Alexander Technique Therapy? — 21 Comments

  1. Really nice post, Imogen. I think part of the problem is that the Alexander Technique is therapeutic, so people might think it’s therapy. Though a hot bath, a lazy weekend and a walk in the woods is also therapeutic!
    Keep up the great writing!

  2. Indeed, not a therapy.

    However, even Alexander teachers are at times, at a loss for explaining what the Alexander Technique REALLY is. We know it can be taught, it can be learned, and it is therapeutic. But, you’re right, not a therapy.

    I always admire your posts!

  3. I agree with your post – and I think Mark is on to something as well. Did a search for “therapy” and found one (not the main) definition: “any act, hobby, task, program, etc., that relieves tension.” Which, of course, could include the Alexander Technique. And as Mark suggests, the word “therapy” has become almost meaningless today.

    Still, I think it’s very important for our students, and maybe even more for us teachers, that we keep the teacher/therapist distinction firmly in mind.

  4. Hi Imogen, excellent post and I agree with your thoughts. A “therapy” is something which is “done” to someone else, whereas the Alexander Technique is a non-doing re-education of the individual. Robert is correct to mention that describing the Technique is no easy task, for us all, but describing what it’s not is a lot easier. This also leaves the individual free to explore, discover and learn from their own experience, rather than being “told”, which is the one of the myriad of distinctions between the Technique and traditionally taught education.

  5. Sounds better than therapy Imogene, when you can learn to take care of your own issues. Becoming aware is key to health rather than allowing someone else to tell you how you feel. Good information to help with the understanding of your process.
    Thank you!

  6. I didn’t know the Alexander Technique included so much hands-on assistance; I think that’s great. I practice yoga in a class setting and although I reap many benefits from it, I don’t get the one-on-one attention that I think would really help. I love the idea of releasing tension from the body as an integral part of a practice or technique. Thanks for this information, Imogen!
    -Cory Zacker

  7. I love how you make this distinction between therapy and education. Of course, the Johns Hopkins article refers to Alexander as “alternative therapy”, something also used to describe medical qigong. In any case, outside of the definitions of therapy and what it is and isn’t “therapy/therapeutic”, I think this kind of work allows the body to release and heal form the inside out, which makes it so valuable. When we relax and open space inside of our bodies, the capacity for repair goes a long way.

  8. I understand how people would use words such as therapy or treatment in talking about the Alexander Technique, so reading your explanation was very helpful in understanding the differences. I like how the Alexander Technique seems to be more oriented toward teaching. To me, the value there is that the person learning will remember and use the techniques, hopefully improving while learning and applying, and ultimately be healthier in mind, body and spirit. Sometimes it’s nice to turn your healing over to someone else, but learning how to heal yourself is usually more long term and permanent. Someday,I would love to know how you became involved in the Alexander Technique, Imogen; if you haven’t already blogged about that, I think it would be a great blog!

  9. The word “therapy” does have a lot of implication and connotation, so your explanation is very helpful. Helping people understand what Alexander Technique is surely is (and is not) an on-going process. I do not, however, think of therapy as something “done” to someone else but something that occurs between people. The people involved have different roles and responsibilities, but both are needed for healing to occur.

    It sounds like that is true for the Alexander Technique as well, even though the technique is not a medical procedure of any sort. The teacher is definitely needed for the learning to happen.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

  10. It’s very clear and very interesting. I’d always heard of the technique, but never learned much about it until I read your blog. It feels like it’s a way to balance the way you feel by knowing how to move your body.

  11. I have a much better understanding of the Alexander Technique is in general from this post – and honestly, feel less intimated by it now. I had previously thought this was something I couldn’t do on my own at any point. Now, I see it much more like other therapeutic practices. For me, this would be yoga, Yamuna bodyrolling and even some meditation – all making me more mindful and aware of my body position. Thanks for the great clarification!

    Jennifer Peek | Small Business Strategist
    Find Your New Groove
    The Freedom to Build Your Business Your Way

  12. Great clarification. The misunderstanding may come from an overuse of the word “therapy” in the real world to describe anything that makes us feel better or takes us through a process of feeling better.

  13. This reminds me back in the ’80s (’70s?, ’60s?) when chiropractors started practicing and their practice tried to become main stream. A HUGE hue and cry arose from the medical community- sort of the same thing that you are mentioning what is happening now with the Alexander Technique. I realize there is a huge difference between the Alexander Technique and chiropractors (who actually do do ‘treatment’ and touching), I still think the reaction stems from the same ‘fear’ of something new.

    It makes no sense to me why people would react to something that makes people feel better!

    Candace Davenport ~ Little Books with a Big Message

  14. Imogene, Thank You! Herb Karpatkian calls it a complementary technique for those that need help in addition to physical therapy.
    Herb is a physical therapist specializing in Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Fay Horak also has employed the Alexander Technique with Parkinsons patients. Her 2011 study with Parkinsons and the Alexander Technique can be found online with NIH National Institute for Health.

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