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


This year, I fully appreciate the importance of combining education, experience, and instinct to become a more effective bodyworker. As I attend various workshops and followed multi-disciplinary professional blogs/articles, I have noticed growing attention by others to this trinity. 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., Reflexologist, Asian Based Therapies, Lomi Lomi. As we matured professionally, many of us became more eclectic in our approach. We call it the toolbox approach. It allows us to be more creative in our approach and feel more effective. It probably seems strange to new therapists now. Still, it was unusual 25 years ago for a Neuromuscular Therapist to attend a Healing Touch workshop, become proficient in aromatherapy, or use the traditional spa as a modality. Now it’s much more than the norm, thank goodness.


I 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, and 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.


It was natural for massage therapy to move from 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 toolbox 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 named Charlie Weingroff, who I attribute to being the first person I read who brought up the difference for me. Here are a few of the 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 many of the quotes attributed to Ida Rolf, like “Just make it look right.”


Basically, 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.


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