Bodywork is a collective term for many hundred different forms of therapy using bodily change. Some modalities, such as osteopaths, sports massage, shiatsu, Rolfing, chiropractic, and structural integrationists, involve hands-on adjustments. Others, such as yoga, Qigong, Feldenkrais, and Alexander Technique, involve a therapist advising on mindful movements and postural adjustments. All aim to change information in the body’s internal sensing system.
The biggest difference between modalities is whether or not their theoretical basis is anchored in the biomedical model of Western medicine—which although evidence-based tends to split 'mind' therapies from 'body' therapies, and even tends to split the body into functionally and structurally distinct parts. Bodywork practitioners who adhere to this model are considered complementary therapists. Other modalities, based on alternative models of the body (such as meridian theory), are considered alternative therapists.
Another important distinction, is whether the bodyworker is addressing only physical change in the body or is acknowledging the proven interdependence between physical, emotional and psychological conditions. The former are considered physical therapists, the latter are referred to as holistic or mind-body practitioners. Those physical therapists who acknowledge the system-wide integration of function and structure (e.g. a foot problem can cause a neck problem) are known as integrationists.
Medicine has become synonymous with pharmacological intervention: medicate physical ills, medicate psychological ills. Therapy, on the other hand, has been dominated by talking, with a recent shift towards self-regulation of behavior via mindfulness practices. But interaction with the physical body is largely ignored, both in medicine and therapy. Even physiotherapy—the hands-on interface of modern medicine—has become largely a hands-off provider of advisory exercises for physical dysfunctions. Where (in any of this) is any awareness of the irrefutable interdependence between psychological, emotional and physical well being? The research is there. The evidence is there. But the old school approach, of treating mind and body separately, persists.
Enter bodywork, a form of therapy in which physical, mental, and emotional interdependencies are addressed at the same time via the one thing that does all three—the body-brain system.
In this section, you will find a compilation of blogs explaining why bodyworks works. Every now and then, I add more blogs; some, outlining overarching mechanisms, others, giving a detailed technique. If you would like to be sent each update, just subscribe (for free) below.