Monday, August 17, 2009

Review: Feldenkrais

I had heard of Feldenkrais as a therapeutic activity through one of the newsgroups I belong to; I have to admit, I had low expectations. I figured, if I walked in some place and they started burning incense and ringing bells, I was outta there. I wasn't sure if it was some new-agey hocus-pocus snake-oil miracle cure some crazy was trying to put on me. Still...I figured, well--it's worth a try. It couldn't hurt, right?

I looked up to see if there were any practitioners in my area; there are four. That surprised me. I called a few and left messages, and two called me back. One called me back twice--this is ALWAYS great for me, b/c it means 1) they are interested in my business and 2) frequently I forget to do things, and I like people remembering for me. I made an appointment with the gentleman caller. I also gave Keith this blog as a reference, which he checked out. AND he saw us on TV the night before our visit--bonus!

After entering his workspace I was immediately relieved. I saw lots of familiar tools--foam rollers, all kinds of balls, mats, etc. He was always focused on Elena and how she was moving, and took time to see how E reacted to having him around her space. He gained her trust before trying to move her, touch her feet/back/legs, and Elena had a great time--so great, in fact, that she exclaimed later in the session--"Mr. Keith you are SO COOL".

Keith explained to me what Feldenkrais was about--I'll try to get this right--it's about improving body awareness by helping the client realize how to move in a different way. As opposed to our traditional PT, where we work on strengthening and using weak muscles through repetition, bargaining, and pressure, Feldenkrais is a gentle approach where the client is in charge, and the practitioner (if allowed) will try to show the client a different way to utilize their muscles as they move about freely. Keith ran the session so that when he spoke, he commanded E's attention so that she knew every time he talked it was beneficial to listen. For instance, Keith showed how he controlled a whiffle ball with the bottom of his foot, and asked Elena if she'd like to try. She did, and did it fine on her left foot. The other foot she couldn't do--so he told/showed her that she could use her right foot if she stopped leaning on it (and her right arm) for balance. It's a small nudge of change--but she was very receptive to the message. No magic light bulbs went off, but throughout the session (which was long--about 90 minutes) she did move in a slightly different way, and enjoyed Keith's company and challenges. As an added bonus, he videotaped the entire session--and then sent it to me, completely annotated, for my review. WOW. My husband was impressed with the time, detail, and patience devoted to this session. I will ask if I can cut a clip and post it here.

Am I sold? Not completely. I think it is valuable, definitely. My problem is two-fold: 1) It is expensive. I don't think it's expensive for the work done--I am happy with Keith's work (from my one visit), and especially impressed with his video commentary. It is expensive as another addition to our already pricey therapy/doctor/equipment list. 2) It is time consuming. E's school year starts at the end of this month, and our schedule is already pretty busy. I thought I might be able to commit a small amount of time to Feldenkrais, but I wasn't sure if that would garner any results.

Keith's suggestion is that we try a few visits in rapid succession, if time and money permits. He thinks that would be more beneficial than regular meetings spaced weeks apart. I agree with him. I am happy with our first visit, and I think I should give it a go. Our plan is to see what Elena's school schedule is--when she has a school holiday, we are going to schedule three visits during that week of E's school--one on the day off, one or two where we take her to school late or leave early, and/or ton the weekend (if Keith can swing it).

Overall--very positive experience. If time and money were no object, we'd definitely do this. At this moment, I'm unsure if it is worth changing/substituting Feldenkrais for something else in her current therapy schedule. We'll see.



Anita said...

Your blog is a lovely slice of life - thanks for letting me have a look. And congratulations on finding the Feldenkrais Method. It has been a life-changing learning method for me, and it's always exciting to find others who are checking it out.

feldypt said...

Wonderful that you have found a practitioner with this wonderful work. As a PT and Feldenkrais practitioner I find this work to be one of the most impressive and sophisticated applications to assist human development through supporting the conditions for learning. Best wishes to all of you,
Stacy Barrows, PT, GCFP, CPI