What’s your role in their story?

by / Friday, 03 October 2014 / Published in Feldenkrais Practitioners, Latest posts
What role shall you play?

What role shall you play?

If you work with people to help them learn, heal, improve or recover, you might be tempted to think that what you’re doing is central to their process, and it may be. However, over the years of working with people, I’ve observed that the clients who come to me create a story, or change their life story to enact getting better. This may sound cynical but it’s quite the opposite.

Our clients’ minds are so powerful that they can turn life around and initiate their own self-healing process. We can support them in that process, but it’s they who are doing the bulk of the work.


A friend of mine who coaches people says his success as a coach is just being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when the client has decided to make important changes, that’s all he does.

After reading this article (Thanks to Feldenkrais Practitioner Ichi Hansamu for pointing this out!),

Fitness and Massage: Technique and Modality Aren’t That Important

that states that the healing modality really don’t matter. I got to thinking about this in my own private practice and found that I have to agree with the article. I’m not saying that as practitioners, we don’t have any influence or are useless, but we need to recognize that we’re just part of a larger story. What method we practice is important, because it must fit into the plot. Energy healing works for those who believe in energy healing,  massage for those who can utilize it and so on. Placebo effect? You bet and that shows how powerful the mind can be! I’m not advocating one method over the other but know that my my chosen method, the FM works well in certain plots, less well in others.

Here’s an example, overly simplified for brevity.

Joe has been feeling stiff lately, not as mobile as he used to be. Getting up in the morning is more difficult and it takes some time before he gets going. He’s also noticing that when he comes home from work, he’s tired and cross.  When his son wants to tussle with him, he feels that he’d rather grab a beer and watch the news. At some point Joe realizes that he’s not getting better and those nightly brew and TV sessions are going to his waistline.

So, Joe decides to do something, and this is the first step. Just deciding to find out how to get better, Joe has already initiated his own healing or learning process, he’s changing the plot in his life story.

Joe talks to a friend about how he’s feeling and his friend says he had the same problem and went to a Feldenkrais Practitioner named Sam, who really helped him with his back pain. Joe’s friend can’t really describe what Sam does but it really helped, so Joe decides to give Sam a call. After all, Joe’s friend is a straightforward kind of a guy.

Just calling and setting up an appointment is another step along the way. Joe’s going to pay Sam, take the time to go there, and has asked for help. These things alone continue his healing/learning process.

Joe goes and finds out that the way he’s sitting at his computer is not optimal and learns to sit in different positions. He begins to recognize the signals from his back that let him know he needs to change, before it becomes painful. Joe also realizes that the siting in front of the TV is counterproductive and discovers that, after a bit of loosening up, tussling with his son actually makes him feel better. On the weekends, Joe plays catch with his son and takes a walk with his wife. He now gets up in the morning more easily and feels that his flexibility is returning. In fact, he actually feels better than he has in a long time.

Now Sam is doing a great job to be sure, and Joe gives him credit for helping him. But Joe has also been active in the process, changing the screenplay of his own movie to benefit his main character.

As practitioners, our ability to help is largely dependent on being a good supporting actor and writing our own script to play that role worthy of an award.

Sam could have played his role differently, here’s another example.

When describing his problem, Joe also mentioned that he had to deal with a cantankerous boss who was pressuring his employees to get more done. Sam could’ve said something like, “Oh you poor thing, of course you have back pain, it’s caused by the stress.” Now, Joe has become a victim in his own drama. Or, Sam might have said something like, “The reason you’re having back pain is because your Psoas muscles are too tight, you need to stretch them.” That may be true, but it doesn’t invite Joe to look for solutions in other areas of his life, like cutting back on sitting in front of the TV etc.


Hero or Victim of his own play?

Hero or Victim of his own play?

The take away from all this is that when someone calls for an appointment, you have been asked to play an important supporting role. You can write your own script but it must be compatible with the current production. Of course there are times when you may need to question the efficacy of the current story and suggest a plot twist, but do so wisely and with a great deal of compassion for the main character.


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