The Therapist Trinity: Education, Experiential knowledge, and Instinct.

This year I have come to fully appreciate the importance of combining education, experience and instinct in order to become a more effective body worker. As I attend various workshops and followed multi-disciplinary professional blogs / articles, I have noticed a growing attention by others to this trinity as well. Massage therapists, Physical therapists, Chiros etc. are discussing the gift of experience and dare I say it ….. the importance of slowing down, being still, and opening up to what the client’s body can reveal - acknowledging instinct. It occurs to me that this renaissance is a natural progression for us.

In the old days most of us began our careers by training in and practicing specific disciplines. You were either devoted to an evidenced based discipline i.e. Rolfer, Myofascial , NMT or a more traditional i.e. Relfexologist , Asian Based Therapies, Lomi Lomi. As we matured professionally many of us became more eclectic in our approach. We call it the tool box approach. It allows us to be more creative in our approach and feel more effective. It probably seems strange to new therapists now, but it was unusual 25 years ago for a Neuromuscular Therapist to attend a Healing Touch workshop, to become proficient in aromatherapy, or to use traditional spa as a modality. Now it’s much more then the norm thank goodness.

I just recently attended Eric Dalton’s Myoskeletal workshop and there were all kinds of disciplines represented including all types of massage, athletic trainers, chiros, PT’s , reflexologists. I love the interplay and the fact that so many of us are learning a common language. The same thing happened when I attended an Oklahoma AMTA sponsored workshop on Cherokee Bodywork – energy workers, Reiki, sports/clinical massage therapists and reflexologists were all in the same room exploring the benefit of slowing down our work, listening to the body and using therapeutic storytelling as a viable tool.

Just as it was natural for massage therapy to move from the designation of alternative therapy, to the designation of complementary therapy, and now integrated therapy. We also moved from a strict place of one disciplinary approach to a tool box approach to the freedom of an integrated modality approach. Now we are moving from having to choose between evidenced based or intuitive work to an evidenced led viewpoint. There is a doctor of Physical Therapy by the name of Charlie Weingroff who I attribute with being the first person I read who brought up the difference for me. Here are a few of things he said that made me think:

“The result of your work is the evidence"

“I subscribe to the Journal of Common Sense”

Scientific method in a nutshell: You measure something, introduce a variable, and then re-measure to see if a change is made – record results (I paraphrase)

This reminded me of a lot of the quotes attributed to Ida Rolf like “Just make it look right”.

Basically in order to claim the Therapist Trinity you need to learn all you can, get your hands on as many bodies as possible, and slow down your work so you can feel what the client’s body can reveal. Be creative and don’t just follow a protocol. Try new combinations of modalities and record your results. Finally challenge yourself, keep trying, and have fun.

Be well, do good work and write about what’s in your toolbox.