Therapeutic Language for the Body Worker

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Rolfing collection and memory

Undated Rolfers’ Notes – Rolfing history and memory


Rarely are we more receptive to being influenced by others as adults as when we are receiving a massage or bodywork. Being as “out of touch” as the culture is, this type of situation immediately rekindles receptive, open states in most people. However, during these altered states; the average body therapist either unconsciously reinforces the client’s problems, making them more tenacious, or through lack of awareness or sloppy use of language, misses powerful moments for making profound shifts in clients. As the story goes, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, eventually everything begins to look like a nail.” Similarly, if problems are focused on during receptive states, the belief that these problems are “real” and fixed in stone gets reinforced. If, by contrast, during therapeutic touch, solution or desired outcome is appropriately discussed and discovered, the result is that new choices and possibilities become deeply embedded in the person and physical tension often visibly diminishes instantaneously.

The body posture and tension levels portray, or some might say betray, the mental state, if a trained observer has the acuity to notice subtle micro- changes in the body. Using these largely unconscious cues, an adept practitioner would be better led to know how and when to intervene for maximum results both verbally and with touch.

Language is a much more powerful tool than most of us realize. We swim in it like fish oblivious to the water they live in. And yet it influences us more profoundly than most of us realize. The computer expression “garbage in, garbage out” applies here. Imprecise or inappropriate use of language creates misunderstanding, missed opportunity and distortion in one’s maps of reality. Additionally, there is ample evidence that one is more influenced by how a sentence is structured and delivered than by the actual content.

One key is to match your verbal and non-verbal output to precisely how your client best inputs information. In this way there will be more powerful changes produced. This will enhance rapport, credibility and understanding, especially during receptive states.

Neuro-Linguistics (N.L.P.) has three major components, all of which are essential to becoming a wizard at changing clients. Number one is understanding which models of the world are most effective for what and so being able to create an elegant therapeutic content (knowing what both you and your client want as a desired result). Second is having the skills necessary to create deep, receptive rapport states in clients and to read the micro-changes in a way to know when to intervene. Last is having effective therapeutic techniques capable of creating profound, far-reaching changes.

Richard Diehl is an Adv. Certified Rolfer in Honolulu, Hawaii.Therapeutic Language for the Body Worker

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