Feldenkrais Trainings: How Many Graduates Start a Practice?

Have you ever wondered how many people graduate from Feldenkrais Trainings on a yearly basis? Curious how many of those people actually start practices?

Paul Rubin’s Answer

Last month on the FeldyForum, Feldenkrais Trainer Paul Rubin stated his belief that most people who graduate from a Feldenkrais professional training program end up using the work in some type of professional context such as a Feldenkrais practice, physical therapy practice, dance practice etc.

When someone on the forum asked him where he was getting his data from, Rubin made some vague reference to a straw poll that he had conducted. I am not surprised that a trainer would want to see himself, his trainings, and perhaps the profession at large, as able to successfully launch careers in the Feldenkrais Method. However, I was stunned that Paul would simply put forth his own assertions – with no supporting evidence or data – and expect people to believe what he was saying. Several people, myself included, said as much.

Rather than owning up to the fact that he had no reliable nor meaningful data, Paul began engaging in a whole series of ad hominem attacks, many of which were directed at me. Apparently, the fact that I challenged him to provide some evidence for assertions means that I am frustrated individual, who is preaching gloom and despair – blah blah blah.

I don’t remember exactly what Paul wrote and I have since canceled my membership to the FeldyForum and can’t go back to check. But suffice it to say, that in the absence of having any evidence or reasoned response, Paul Rubin saw fit to attack me personally. In fact, at one point, Rubin refused to even speak to me directly, writing, “someone said…” and wrote that I was “claiming to be an expert.” Point taken. If you disagree with Paul Rubin, you become a nameless, faceless “other.” And being unable to meaningfully criticize my views he attacked my credentials. I am truly sorry that he is in that space. Not only does it serve no purpose for anyone and degrade both him and the method, but it in no way supports his case.

The Research Answer

After a few days, Paul did manage to find a survey done by Rob Black (currently the FGNA President-Elect) in 1997. (PDF Download: Snapshot of Feldenkrais Practice. Rob’s survey was a valiant first attempt, and does provide some very interesting data about the state of the Feldenkrais Method 12 years ago. For example, it has data on practitioners reported income and satisfaction with their work.

However, like most convenience sample studies it has major limitations. For example, it’s not clear that Rob had access to contact information for those who were not in the guild database and may not have been practicing. We don’t know how many attempts were made to contact people, some regions of the country where not represented, and overall, there is no way of saying that the study is representative of the population of Feldenkrais practitioners 12 years ago, let alone today.

Again, it’s great that the attempt was made, and I am sure at some point that FGNA (The Feldenkrais Guild of North Americal) will follow-up up. However, one study does not constitute an answer to the question:

“How many people take Feldenkrais Trainings and actually start practices?”

Who else might have an answer to the question?

The IFF’s Answer

The IFF (International Feldenkrais Federation) has been doing a great deal of work in the area of developing competency profiles and attempting to improve the practice of practitioners. In a 2008 report, they stated:

It’s sobering but true. Only a fraction of Feldenkrais training program graduates are still
practicing members of their guild five years later.

(IFF Competency Profile, p4)

Note: The full IFF competency profile can be downloaded here: www.feldenkrais.com/download/profession/IFFCompetencyProfile.pdf

How they know that “only a fraction” are practicing members of their guild 5 years later, I do not know. Though I would hope that the report, compiled by representatives of Feldenkrais Guilds worldwide, has some factual basis for the assertion. I would certainly give it more credence than Paul Rubin’s dubious assertions.

Personal attacks on my character and intelligence notwithstanding, I cannot find any reliable or meaningful data on the efficacy of Feldenkrais trainings. If anyone can send me information, published or not, please do so, or leave a comment on this post.

Ryan’s Opinion

My personal opinion, (yes, that’s right my opinion) is that many people who take trainings have no intention of becoming practitioners, even if they state that as their goal. Currently, it’s difficult to find intensive experiences of the Feldenkrais Method without going to a training. Many people realize the value of the work and – I think – take trainings because they want a deeper experience of themselves and the method than they can get in a weekly class or weekend workshop. If that is true, it represents a huge opportunity, not just for Feldenkrais trainers, but for practitioners and assistant trainers.

Why?

I’d be willing to bet that those taking a feldenkrais training for largely personal reasons would be willing to spend money for less-expensive, but equally valuable intensive workshops. That is, they might be willing to attend a 1-week, 2-week, or even month-long workshop that would allow them to go deeply into the work without having to pay for the additional costs associated with the certification process (administration costs, staffing costs etc.) In addition to costing less, the workshop could be conducted by any practitioner willing to take the plunge and could serve as a valuable pathway for more people to learn about the work. It might also appeal to a much larger segment of the population.

And one last time – the question of how many people graduate from Feldenkrais trainings and then successfully create practices? I do not know.

And neither does Paul Rubin, nor anyone else in the Feldenkrais community.

Like it or not.

cheers – Ryan

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30 thoughts on “Feldenkrais Trainings: How Many Graduates Start a Practice?

  1. daphne graber

    Hi,
    when i started my training (2003) i was already 56 years old and NEVER thought of becoming a Feldenkrais practitioner. i did it because i had the time and money and it fitted nicely into my life those days.
    in 2005 i found myself , for the first time in my life, in front of a classe teaching Feldenkrais and loving it!
    my practice is growing slowly. i enjoy your posts, they always show a different angel . isn’t this Feldenkrais?
    best wishes for 2010
    Daphne Graber
    (Israel)

  2. Brad

    I have done one Feldenkrais training with Larry Goldfarb in 2001 and 4.5 years of Anat Baniel’s professional trainings plus a number of advanced workshops with Segal, Reese, Bersin, Beringer, Delmen, Glodfarb in between. It seems like at least a third of the students are doing it for personal growth with out intending to become practitioners. In Anat’s trainings (Usually +/- 80 students) there are usually about 15 to 20% people that are participating because they are parents of special needs children and they want to be able to work with them at home. The rest of the students that are hoping to start a practice of purely Feldenkrais or Anat Baniel methods, find out that it is very slow to build a practice from scratch and end up throwing in the towel and look for another career after a couple of years. I think in the case of the Feldenkrais Method, it has such poor name recognition and it takes a huge amount of self promotion and public education to get the ball rolling that many people give up. I think the Guild does very little to help the practitioners and get the name out there. I fortunately, like in” An officer and a Gentlemen” – Had no place else to go and stuck with it and built a practice.

    My question is, how come the Feldenkrais method isn’t known as well as Bikrahm, Pilates, Rolfing, Nia, Thai Bo, Cardio pole dancing, or Zumba? It is been around at least as long or longer than most of them.

    The biggest skill I have had to hone as a practitioner is explaining what the method is about and making it sound effective, current, relevant, sexy and fun like yoga.

    I think if there was a solid internship program and counseling (Like for MFT’s)
    that would be helpful and practitioners would be more competent from the beginning. I notice when people graduate the trainings that I have been in, most of them feel lost as to what the method is about and how to proceed once out of the nest.

  3. Brad

    It still say’s “Feldenchrist” on the blog. I thought this was a mistake at first but now I think you may be onto a clever marketing idea to get the name out there.
    Ingenious!

  4. Steve

    I partly studied in Munich, Germany, where there are currently (and usually) three (3!!) Training programs + quite a few in the neighboring towns. I understand Feldenkrais is very popular in the South of Germany. In each training there are alt least 30 or more participants who finish the training. The numbers, as far as I know, continue to drop. There used to be a 100 students in some Trainings (also in Rubin’s) and now they are down in the 30s. Also in the US, I know trainings that had almost a hundred students, then, less than 30 and now they do not offer them any longer because the lack of applicants. The dwindling numbers may have something to do with the popularity of the method – that is not much has been done to make it more widely known. When in Munich I asked one of the participating practitioners about the profession, he, too, claimed that not more than 20-30% of the graduates start a practice. Quite simply there is not so much demand for such a large number of practitioners who graduate each year. Nevertheless, Jeremy Krauss is still optimistic, saying that who would have thought yoga would be so popular 20-30 yrs ago. According to his belief, Feldenkrais will gain the same popularity. As for shorter workshops, Brad mentioned, I felt those sometimes who teach those weekend courses, tend to take the work more seriously. In some trainings (I had the opportunity to participate in quite a few of them), by the 3rd or 4th year, the breaks tend to get longer and longer and the 5 daily lessons narrows to 4 sometimes, I regret to say. To cite sth. encouraging to finish with: in Poland, the only practitioner there, has a long waiting list! And he probably had to build up his reputation from scratch. Keep up the excellent work Ryan! It is highly appreciated!

  5. Brad

    It would be interesting to do research and have a discussion on why movement forms like Pilates, martial arts, yoga, and new comers like Nia, theThigh Master, Zumba, Scientology, kettle bells, and newer yoga forms like; Bikram, restorative, Rodney Yee, Deborah Powers, power, flow etc., and Rolphing, physical therapy, chiropractic, hot stone massage,Vapasina meditation, have been able to gain momentum, name recognition, and fill classes and training’s. And why do we have dwindling enrollment numbers, and a t-shirt that say’s,” Felden-what?” Where is our version of Yoga Journal or Cat-Fancy magazine with the hot models and adorable kittens?

    I think part of the problem is Feldenkrais is more complex (Ease through complexity = Good) and sophisticated than most of the methods mentioned above (which are based on force, repetition, and are more aggressive and structurally oriented, and not purely based on a dynamic systems model) and it’s efficacy is dependent on the embodiment and charisma practitioner.

    So, is it the practitioners fault for not representing the work well,the trainers fault for not preparing the students to advocate powerfully for the method, or the folks that have been at the helm of the guild for not getting progressive and bold with the marketing? Or is the current state human awareness so arrested and dumbed down by mainstream media (and the need for instant gratification) that many don’t have the ears to hear about the method it right now?

    How come Madonna, Operah, Angelina Jolie and George Clooney aren’t using the method? I think at this time we only have Whoopie Goldberg and Andrew Wile on our team that are among the living.

    Moshe was a bad ass judo guy and genius that was always moving forward and was irreverent and out spoken even at 80. Do we currently have anybody like that on our side? The method was built off martial arts, developmental movement, and cutting edge psychology and physics. We should be kicking ass out there! Feldenkrais should be as big as Apple.

    I am biased, but I think Anat Baniel and her organization are kicking ass, getting current and progressive and moving the method forward. She is developing practitioners that can powerfully explain, advocate, and enlist others in the movement.

    Let us kick some main stream arse, shake up and get human evolution progressing again, and move the %#$#& ball forward! Do it for the kids!!

    Curious to hear what others think?

    Ciao.
    Brad

  6. Jerry Larson

    I graduated from the Training in 1994 in LA. btw I started the Feldenkrais Guild website, ran it for a few years, and was active on the precusor of the FeldyForum. I remember the exact same argument, the exact same quotes about the 1997 survey.

    I would have been very interested in becoming a practitioner, but it’s not a very practical thing for most people, and the training didn’t prepare me for it at all. I thought about it, but it was just so much easier to make a living in other ways– in the profession that allowed me to pay for the training!

    I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, but for the time and money I invested, it wasn’t really worth it. It actually would have been better for me if I had quit after three years. I think my experience was very typical; most people I know kept on working in their previous fields, and perhaps dabbling a little bit as prax.

    In my humble opinion, this is the deal: the trainers and other powers that be in the Feldenkrais community have a good thing. They like things the way they are. The trainers make good money doing trainings, NOT by seeing clients. They have fun, are worshiped like rock stars by the students, yet retain their anonymity and can walk down the street or shop in the malls. The way things are set up, the trainers are pretty busy doing trainings; it takes a hundred or so students to make a training work. You know they aren’t busy seeing clients; you don’t really know whether they could pull that off if they had to.

    The amount of money you pay, and the time the training takes, is something that most students would probably not commit to if they didn’t have some interest and hope of becoming professionals.
    Many more of the graduates would become professionals if
    1) that was a practical proposition–the best way to bring that about would be to work with other health professions, take insurance, etc.; the numbers of graduates might have to be reduced as well, but then how would the trainers maintain their incomes? They might have to actually what they supposedly are training students to do.
    2) if the training actually prepared the students to be professionals.

    I can imagine a world where the successful practitioners see a lot of clients, and they train a few students, primarily in clinical practice. The trainees could be required to have a degree or background in nursing, PT or some other health profession, and get like a two-year practicum with appropriate didactics. The general public would not say “Felden-what” when you mention it, just as they don’t say “chiro-what”; doctors and PT’s would refer people; insurance would pay for it.

    I can also imagine a model of being a practitioner that’s not necessarily based on FI. Who makes a living doing hands-on sessions? Well, Rolfers, but not that many of them. Some other bodyworkers. Massage therapists. There are ways that model can be made to work, but whatever you need to do that, the Feldenkrais community doesn’t do, and it’s limited at best. I think the trainer body and the way the training is set up are the biggest problems there; or maybe there’s only one ecological niche and the Rolfers have it, or maybe the time to get that started has passed, the opportunity was missed.

    There’s another model that I think might work better: a model of Feldenkrais practice based mainly on ATM. Who makes money teaching classes? Yoga teachers, martial arts teachers. Some of them do private lessons too, but in my experience they need large classes first, to provide most of the income, and secondly to provide the students for the private lessons.
    Those martial arts and yoga teachers have the same model as the Feldenkrais TRAINERS (not the prax): have a lot of students in the class, teach a few private lessons on the side, and DON’T prepare too many of your students to compete with you!

    To claim that people paid tens of thousands, and spent four years, in a so-called “professional training”, and never really even wanted to do the work professionally, is disingenous. People wouldn’t spend that much time and money if they didn’t have some interest in doing the work; for personal growth, they might go to some weekend workshops, or even a one-year course, but they don’t stick out four years at those prices if they don’t think there’s some prize at the end.

    In fact, even if the students DON’T want to be become professionals, it’s kind of ethically questionable to run these “personal growth” trainings, CALL them professional trainings, and fail to provide a viable professional training.
    Their really SHOULD be a way to become a Feldenkrais practitioner, one that takes its students/trainees, no matter how few of them there might be, and almost ALL of them, not some small and unknown fraction, end up making a living at the profession they’ve studied. All real professional schools do that.
    People don’t go through law school, or medical school, or train as dental assistants, and then write it off to personal growth.

  7. gabrielle

    I applaud the truth in print. However, I too hear the same stuff over and over. I agree we have a problem here. The question is what are we going to do about it? For myself, I am too busy trying to stay afloat. You think having a practice is a lot of work. Teaching requires being in contact with three times as many people. Not only that, but teaching in different locations requires additional negotiations and relationships to foster. also, my ability to deal with planning is challenged; I’m required to be in the present to teach now, but must be several months in the future to market upcoming classes. it’s pretty schizophrenic…I had no ability to handle all this complexity before I did the training, but now I realize that I am better off doing a few things well instead of a zillion things at once simply because I have improved my ability to be present and to solve problems. I am still learning to integrate all the parts of myself that have arisen from the mist since the training (music, dance, writing, singing, exercise, riding, spirit, travel, friendship, better familial relationships – not to mention the huge volume of material I have most magically at my fingertips!) It primes us to be very renaissance. perhaps we all step out the door thinking ourselves much improved, not realizing integration is a lifelong process – a part of what makes it zesty! yes, there is some duplicity in the presentation of what a training prepares a person for. then there is all this dysfunction in the relations amongst practitioners. politics. an ephemeral illusory sense of being effective…

  8. Ryan Nagy

    Daphne: Thanks for writing this:

    “i enjoy your posts, they always show a different angel . isn’t this Feldenkrais?

    I needed to hear that. It’s always a balance, isn’t it? Difficult to do ATM on a regular basis and not change things around a bit….

    Brad wrote:

    “it would be interesting to do research and have a discussion on why movement forms like Pilates, martial arts, yoga, and new comers like Nia, theThigh Master, Zumba, Scientology, kettle bells… have been able to gain momentum, name recognition, and fill classes and training’s.”

    Yes, yes, yes. That’s the type of acting that will pay off. It’s been on my mind for quite some time – find out what others are doing successfully and find what part of it can be duplicated.

    Steve wrote:

    “he, too, claimed that not more than 20-30% of the graduates start a practice. Quite simply there is not so much demand for such a large number of practitioners who graduate each year.”

    Thanks for bringing that up. I’ve been wondering what the perception is in Europe and if the numbers are any different. And if there were more demand and more awareness from the public, it would certainly help new practitioners to make a start.

    happy new year – Ryan

  9. Ryan Nagy

    Brad – “Feldenchrist” is my #1 keyword on this website. That is, more people reach this blog by searching for “FeldenCHRIST” on google than by any other word….

    (Who could make this stuff up?)

    - Ryan

  10. Brad Beldner

    I was right! That is genius! I wonder if there is a way to combine the word “Viagra” or ” Post Apocalyptic” or “40% Fewer Cavities” w/Feldenkrais. I bet you would triple your hits.

  11. Barbara Morgan

    This discussion of the vast gap between “the training” and “the practice” has prompted the following random and tentative musings.

    I am a first year trainee, with a two decade history of medical practice in neurology. The notion that one might be cast adrift upon completion of training is not a pleasant one. Nonetheless I am confident that I can find my niche and that it will no doubt reflect my previous competencies as well as the ones I am learning.

    I think a trainee should enter a program with an understanding of particular talents, skills, and interests, with intellectual maturity, and with some thoughts of how she/he might use those skills, talents, and interests. That, dare I call it a constraint, might serve as a sort of seed or muse that could help navigate and refract the shifting sands of training. Of course it is quite possible that one might develop new and serendipitous avenues….and I hope I do.

    My thought at this nascent stage of my Feldenkrais education is that I could focus on writing and speaking about the method for general medical and nursing audiences. On the practice end I have already changed my medical practice a tad. My patients LOVE it, but my billing manager doesn’t. The method is time intensive.

    I think the idea of an internship is a good one. I also agree with the idea of core competencies. In medicine in the United States we have three sets of national boards including written and oral tests. The orals are always the scariest, and the closest to Feldenkrais training. You can’t “study” for them because they reflect your ability to integrate on your feet what you’ve learned from your mentors and from several years of clinical experiences.

    I know that Feldenkrais focuses on bones. I would like to think that I will eventually have intimate awareness of every bone in my body. Though I suspect that I will probably always show favoritism to some.

    But are bones enough? They’re connected to muscles, tendons, joints, fascia, blood vessels and nerves. And to that head nerve, up there encased in those head bones. And while I’m on the subject of nerves (now there’s a subject that can really make your head turn to the left and to the right) you’ve probably seen those diagrammatic models of the human body based on connective tissue, of which bone is only one sort. But have you seen models of the body based on the peripheral nerves? Peripheral nerves are a vast uncharted territory, and nobody, not even Moshe Feldenkrais, could possibly know them all.

    My other thought after reading these commentaries, is that kvetching about fellow Feldies is unbecoming. It’s an imperfect world and we are grown ups. I don’t care what famous people become Feldenkrais practitioners. I care about the method, not logo. We won’t find our holy grail by getting product placement on a segment of Mad Men. If there are a few superstar trainers I don’t begrudge them their status if it is based upon a life of brilliant integration of the Feldenkrais method.

    Those are my thoughts. Shoot them down, mix me up.

    I can’t wait till my next training session.

    Barbara Morgan

  12. Jerry Larson

    “i enjoy your posts, they always show a different angel . isn’t this Feldenkrais?

    It’s taken me till now to realize that that is probably a typo. I didn’t understand what “showing a different angel” meant, exactly, but I was willing to go with it. Feldenkrais is an angel? What, you mean he’s not God?

    Sheesh. First it’s FeldenChrist, then it’s angels.
    Wut next?

  13. erin

    I was moved to respond by Jerry’s comment that “the training didn’t prepare me for it at all”. I’m sure everyone’s experience is unique in that we all find ourselves in different trainings, even in the same room. My own experience (with dennis leri) prepared me to extract the fundamental principles of Feldenkrais into every life situation, such as, look for options, try something new, keep experimenting, test what this feels like, use flexible thinking. And to ask questions such as, where does the force go through? Where does it stop? What’s the trajectory? What works? What’s effortless? What’s painful? Where am I coordinated? Where am I falling on my face?

    For me, the benefit of the method is in discovering an attitude of flexible, moving, engaging, meaningful activity in the world; the ultimate “how” to life’s “what”. If I can use this skill in relating to my clients, in particular to the endless number of email inquiries, schedule changes, questions, fears, and confusion, plus the lengthy hand-holding and explanations to new clients as I invite them to make a paradigm shift in their life, well, then the training prepared me very well.

    I love biographies, and as I read stories of successful people, their history is invariably filled with stunning failures. All these people had to try, try again. The Feldenkrais method is, for me, the way of experimentation, curiosity, and wonder.

    While I graduated in 2001, three years ago I started over in a new city where I didn’t know a soul. After two years I had a stable practice, an office, and now I have solid media exposure. But during those two years I was deeply jealous of other practitioners who had a base of people they knew and whose practices were thriving as I struggled with part-time jobs and few clients. But after two years I ditched the part-time jobs and after three years my business was stable. Now I only teach Feldenkrais, all day, every day.

    In my training Dennis never explained to me how to lift a leg. I would frequently be near tears because I wanted an answer, some safety zone of correctness, yet by not receiving one one I learned how to find it for myself. That was the most important thing my training gave me. As Thomas Edison once said, “There is no such thing as a failed experiment.”

    If this can inspire anyone else to pursue a practice, I’m glad. Feldenkrais saved my ass and if it can save one more person, the world will be a better place.

  14. Ryan Nagy

    Hi all – I just wanted to say thanks for the detailed comments. Lot’s of food for thought. And food for action.

    My basic premise is that there are enough practitioners and interested people for new ways of getting the work in the world to emerge. They already are, but I see the rate of change and exploration increasing in the coming months and years.

    Service marks and such do have their place. Though I like to remember that Moshe himself was not a “Guild Certified Feldenkrais Trainer®” nor did he need to be. He “earned his spurs” through his own exploration and organic development. And when he came to the U.S., he wasn’t teaching workshops called “Sharing Ida Rolf’s Legacy” or “Sharing F.M. Alexander’s Legacy” – he had a legacy of his own to share.

    just my 2 cents – Ryan

  15. Jerry Larson

    I’m replying to Barbara Morgan’s post. I want to reply to Erin too, but I’ll leave that for later.

    I also want to say, I don’t think the title of this thread really hits it on the the head; “starting a practice” is too vague. The real issue would be, how do-able is it for a recent graduate, or any practitioner to make a living just doing do FI and ATM? You can “start a practice”, do it for a year or two, lose money or make just a little, and maybe keep on like that indefinitely, while making your living some other way, or quite after a year or two.
    Of course there are some people who don’t need or want to make a living at it, but a “professional training”, should provide the graduates with the skills to make a living if they want to; and it should provide the community, the field, with enough new, active practitioners so that the field can expand.

    Barbara, I don’t believe I said anything mean, unprofessional, or untrue about the Guild trainers. Imho there are major problems, and they should be discussed in a professional and collegial way. That doesn’t mean to tell the little girl to shut up when she says the emperor has no clothes.

    I think it’s obvious, though we can debate it, that in the US, Feldenrkais work is an abysmal failure. (Things may be different in Israel or Germany, I wouldn’t know). Very few people have even heard of it, and the graduates of the “professional training” have a very steep hill to climb if they want to do the work professionally. The overwhelming majority don’t succeed in that.
    Yoga, massage therapy, martial arts, Rolfing, Pilates, etc., etc. all seem to be doing much better. Even Alexander work has a niche.

    The work is good stuff, and deserves to be better known, more available to clients, and I would certainly argue, paid for by health insurance– though that might not be absolutely necessary. I blame the Guild and the trainer body for this. My experience of the training, and I don’t believe my training was necessarily worse than others, was that we weren’t really trained to do FI or to set up a practice. Not even close.

    My experience also was the trainers were hell-bent on stamping out any unorthodox beliefs or free speech. In fact, almost anything you might say to a client to help them understand what the work is, was forbidden.
    There’s no quality control for what people do in FI’s once they get it; I’ve had well-known practitioners, assistant trainers in fact, pile crystals on my chest and leave me to marinate, or try to inculcate their spiritual beliefs about reincarnation. But man, call it “bodywork” or compare it to anything and you’re in a world of trouble.

    My impression of the Guild, and the trainers, is that they like the work, they enjoy teaching about it, but their main concern is not that the work be available to more people, or that graduates be able to make a living.
    The main thing is just to make damn sure that no one misunderstands, or has a new understanding of any kind, or compares the work to something else.
    And, conveniently, the trainers do make a nice living.

    Barbara, I don’t mind some people being stars or making a lot of money.
    I think it’s great that you’re learning this work when you’re already an established MD. I work with doctors, and I’ve been on a medical school faculty, so I have some idea what goes on in medical education, and comparing that to this, Feldenkrais training leaves a great deal to be desired.
    In medicine, there are star faculty, and there are also star surgeons, for example, who DON’T teach in a medical school, but just do a lot of surgery.
    But everyone, during their training, has an opportunity to teach someone; it’s not just a small elite. And everyone has the opportunity to do research and add to or change the ideas, not just the trainers. My trainer told me that only the Guild trainers had any business saying anything. Certainly there are very few opportunities for trainers!

    There’s a sardonic saying in medicine: “see one, do one, teach one”. Hopefully you actually see more than one lumbar puncture, say, before you do one, and you do more than one before you teach. Well, I can honestly say that in my Feldenkrais training, I never even saw one FI. Not a real one, done for money, on a real client. FI’s in class, sure, but it’s not the same thing at all.

    When I got out of the training, I felt like I was catching on a little bit with FI, could actually do it a little, and I was at least as good at it as the average person in my training. But I was light-years away from really knowing how to do it, knowing what I could authentically promise a client. I really had absolutely no experience of actual practice. Compare that with medical training, where you spend time in hospitals and clinical settings for the last two years of med school, anywhere from four to seven years of residency, and often fellowships after that: seeing the work, doing it, and teaching it.

    I remember getting my master’s in audiology, which included a little bit of clinical practicum, and having, you know, some knowledge about the field, but really no clue how to actually do the work, virtually know experience of what the field is like. But in audiology, after you get your degree, you have to do a clinical fellowship where you finally get to see, do, and possibly teach the work. (actually, they’ve changed the system now, but the point remains). Coming out of the Feldenkrais “professional training’ was like the master’s program; it gives you considerable theoretical knowledge, a little bit of an idea what the work is out, but you still need to get practical experience, work with real patients or clients.

    I don’t think “internships” are going to work, not grafted on to this system.
    We were looking for “mentoring” in my day too, because we all knew perfectly well that we weren’t really prepared. The problem is, I suppose, that are no real clinical settings to train people in. Those few practitioners who make a living doing FI’s– what are they supposed to do? Let the trainee watch all their sessions? Let them help? I think everyone can see what the problems would be with that.

    I don’t have the answers; that would be a good discussion to have, creative solutions to these problems. The first thing, though, imho, is that the Guild and the trainer body have to actually WANT their graduates to succeed, in the sense of being able to make a living. That should be the priority.
    Without that, I don’t see how it can ever work.

    One other thing, Barbara, something completely different, what you said about bones and muscles and nerves. I don’t quite know what you mean about the peripheral nervous system being an uncharted wilderness; it’s in anatomy books. Of course there is individual variation.

    Actually, in FI, there is some occasional input through soft tissues like skin, but you’re right of course, mainly it’s about finding and manipulating bones and joints. The sensory information the client get comes through the sensory innervation of muscles and connective tissues. I think the more information the practitioner has about musculosketal anatomy, and even neuroanatomy, the better, but I’ll bet there are some great FI practitioners who know little or nothing about that, in scientific and technical terms.
    Their hands must know something, of course.

  16. Steve

    Seems the negative stuff got the upper hand in these discussions. However, we must not forget that the method does work! Just after 4 years of practice I have quite a few happy/content/faithful students who are (some) still attending one of my weekly classes ( I have only 3 at the moment). And the past two summers I also ran some successful intensive workshops! There are many testimonials on my website (regret but most are in Hungarian) that each have a different aspect, how the work was beneficial for them. Often miracles do happen, pains disappear just after a few sessions of ATM or FI. I cannot yet make a living out of my practice but it is a regular support and the work is both a joy and – I cannot find the right word – you know when you are doing sth. worthwhile sth. that beneficial to the participants. Sth. that warms your heart. When you see their mood and posture changing during the lesson etc. As for the training giving enough preparation: no school does really prepare for any profession as far as I know. When one finishes Medical School and goes to a hospital, the nurses know much more about the patient, and how to deal with them, than the young ‘doctors’.. As Alan Questel put it: you need 2-3 yrs and 3-400 clients before you can say you have some proficiency with the FI work. Still better than Jeremy Krauss’ case, who was told by Dr. Feldenkrais when he finished his Training that in 10 yrs he would know what he was doing. With my ATM classes I feel more and more secure week after week. It is hard work (takes me a long time to prepare for my lessons) but it is worthwhile. And as for real FIs for clients, maybe I was lucky but my ED gave regular ‘real’ FIs to both us and to his clients during the breaks.

  17. Jerry Larson

    “Seems the negative stuff got the upper hand in these discussions.”

    Incorrect. Acknowledging that there is a problem is not “negative”.
    It’s the first step to correcting it. It seems like very little has changed since I was in the training; ad hominem attacks on the people who were speaking up about the problems were common then too. Denial is negative. Shooting the messenger is negative. Acknowledging and defining the problem is constructive; the next step would be to start trying to develop some solutions.

    >However, we must not forget that the method does work!

    I myself, El Negativo Grande, said that the method is “good stuff”.
    It definitely deserves better than this. Whether it “works” or not depends on what you think it’s supposed to do. I’m pretty sure it can’t cure cancer or quadriplegia, probably not even plantar fascitis, or raise the dead, but I’ve known trainees and new graduates who seriously thought they could help coma patients and quadriplegics– and that without having ever met one. I think that’s a big part of what’s missing: admitting that the method doesn’t do EVERYTHING anyone can possibly imagine; figuring out what it is and is not good for, and what kind of results a competent practitioner should reliably be able to produce. Then you could measure whether they can do that or not.

    >Just after 4 years of practice I …I cannot yet make a living out of my practice

    That’s what I’m talking about. 4 years after finishing any other self-so-called professional training, you’d expect anyone who’s kept it at to be able to make a living. That’s great that you’re getting so much satisfaction from your hobby, or part-time job, whatever it is, but if after finishing a professional training, and working for 4 years, if you still can’t make a living, something is wrong.

    >As for the training giving enough preparation: no school does really prepare for any profession as far as I know.

    But, see, this is not supposed to be a school, it’s supposed to be a professional training program. I already made this point. It may be true that medical school graduates are not ready to practice medicine (although they are licensed at that point), but after four to seven years of graduate training, consisting mostly of doing the work under decreasing levels of supervision, specialty trained physicians DO know what they’re doing, can be counted on, and if not, they’re accountable.

    To take another example: do you think pilot training prepares people to fly?
    If a pilot had to fly another 2000 hours after graduation before (s)he was competent, would you ride with him?

    >When one finishes Medical School and goes to a hospital, the nurses know much more about the patient, and how to deal with them, than the young ‘doctors’

    I don’t know if you’re speaking from any experience of your own, or if you just saw it on ER, but there’s a grain of truth in that. (It’s highly exaggerated, though). However, medical school graduates are not done with their training yet; they’re really just getting started. btw, there is a huge difference between a first-year resident (aka intern) and a senior resident.

    >.. As Alan Questel put it: you need 2-3 yrs and 3-400 clients before you can say you have some proficiency with the FI work.

    I don’t doubt that. That sounds right, and consistent with other fields like psychology, where some hundreds of hours of supervised practicum are required for licensure. I contend that that experience needs to be gained in a setting of supervised practicum. Otherwise, how do you know the practitioner is really proficient? How do you know if they’re even learning anything, or if it’s the right things?
    And how can you justify charging those first 200 patients, excuse me, clients, when you don’t know what you’re doing yet?

    >Still better than Jeremy Krauss’ case, who was told by Dr. Feldenkrais when he finished his Training that in 10 yrs he would know what he was doing.

    See, to me this is an incredibly irresponsible attitude. Feldenkrais, fine, that was a different time and place; he just invented this stuff on his own, didn’t even know when he started if he could teach others, didn’t have to deal with markets and laws and rules and standards the way people do here and now, and anyway, he’s not around any longer.

    I”M not taking any lessons from that guy who’s still in his first ten years, who doesn’t know what he’s doing, nor am I sending my mother to him, or my dog even. Come back to me when the ten years are up.
    It reminds me of some internal martial arts, where they claim that even though you can’t defend yourself after five years, you just need to practice another 15 years– if you don’t get killed in the meantime, or get crippled by old age and arthritis! In fact, it turns out that 15 years later you still don’t know how to fight, and that’s okay if fighting isn’t what really matters; but the fact that you couldn’t fight AT ALL after five years might have been a clue as to what was coming in the next 15! Pretty much anything you can do in life, you can get reasonably good at in well under 10 years.

    To turn people loose on the public with the idea that they’ll be incompetent for the first ten years is extremely irresponsible. I say, you can teach people enough to be competent, to know what they’re doing, in less than that; of course there’s always more to learn, but we don’t live forever, and we have a responsibility to the clients in the meantime. If it does take ten years, then keep training them, and don’t turn them loose on the public until they’re ready.

    Look, it takes more than ten years to be competent at medicine: 4 years college, 4 years med school, at least 4 years training. Those people are IN TRAINING until they’re ready! The real professional training, the supervised practice, is what’s missing from the Feldenkrais “training”.

    >..And as for real FIs for clients, maybe I was lucky but my ED gave regular ‘real’ FIs to both us and to his clients during the breaks.

    Well, of course we saw a few FI’s during the training, and received some, and not only on the breaks. I understand you don’t get what I’m talking about, and I don’t know how to get it across. In my experience, there is a very faint flavor of actual practical training in the Feldenkrais training programs, not even a snack, certainly not a full meal. You need to see, and discuss, dozens if not hundreds of cases, real ordinary run-of-the-mill cases as well as interesting teaching cases, and PARTICIPATE in the work, with increasing levels of responsibility, to be confident and competent. I don’t know how to arrange that in this field. I’m just trying to call your attention to what works in other fields, in the real world.

    Anyway that’s a secondary point. I’m not married to a certain idea of how to do the training; of course it doesn’t need to be exactly like medical training.
    I think it’s abundantly clear that part of the problem is the lack of realistic, supervised hands-on experience, but the crucial first step is to recognize that there’s a problem, and be open to making some changes in order to solve it.

  18. Steve

    Jerry, I agree with what you are saying. And some training, like Alan Questel’s, as he said in one of these podcast, are changing and developing in new directions. But Madonna or George Clooney, I regret to say, are still not practicing.

  19. Brad Beldner

    The learning process could be greatly exponentiated if there was a internship/mentor ship process that was required (clinical hours) before you got your GCFT, like they do in all the traditions that take insurance.

    The Hakomi therapist (Somatic Psychology training) are taking a ” Certificate road to a higher education” like us, but they also have to do many clinical hours and supervision and record their sessions a to prove they have a grasp of their method to their teachers before they get thier initials and that can take years.
    I was only required to do one practicum ATM and FI and show up to 80% of the classes. Ridiculous. I think the study that Moshe did before he got his big aha was at least a Ph.D.

    I think the whole process should be more like a University program (experientially based of course). There may be less practitioners signing up initially, but we would turn out a higher level of practitioner and get more street cred and eventually more people would sign up. We can always have public workshops for those that want to dabble in it.

    The Canadian massage therapist even have to study that trade in a college setting and pass boards and get licensing…

    Moshe said he thought that worst Feldenkrais practitioner was better than the best Physical Therapist. That is easy because the basic feel and ideology works easily for the least adept practitioner because your are fallowing the rules of basic nervous system functioning. Many other methods are so invasive and reductionistic compared to us that it is easy for feldy’s to be in stark contrast to those styles.

    So I think we are all getting great results and working miracles in contrast to the main stream but we are way off the level that a 20 or 30 year practitioner is working at, not to mention a Mia, Ruthy or Anat. We have the technology and teachers that they didn’t have to move us there quicker and keep the whole thing from getting watered down and disappearing when they are not here to over see the process and keep us on track after they split….Hey, I’m just sayin. Ciao B

  20. Jerry Larson

    Steve, I can believe that Alan might be going in new directions. Could you give us some sort of a flavor of what those directions might be?
    I don’t care what Madonna’s doing, let alone George.

    Brad,
    you and I agree on some things, but on some others I couldn’t disagree more. If I had some kind of physical problem, I’d absolutely go to a good PT before I’d go to a bad Feldenkraiser. That’s not only ridiculous, it’s profoundly disrespectful and insulting. I really do think that Feldenkrais work is very cool stuff, I’d like to see it flourish and grow, but this delusion of absolute superiority, this inability to show any decent respect for the knowledge, and abilities, and hard work, of people in other fields, it’s what Moshe called “parasitic”. I think that’s a big part of what’s killing you guys.

    PT’s may know a thing or two you don’t. I don’t really see this record of miracles. I just see a very small group of people with some great ideas, who can’t seem to share them with the world in any effective way, and who claim to be smarter than everyone else. Very smart, interesting people, having a lot of fun, but just delusional.

    btw, I did think the people I met in my training were some of the smartest people I ever hung around with. I also hang out with a lot of doctors, and they’re very smart too, in a very different way. Each group could really stand to learn a lot from the other.

    You think you’re working miracles? I don’t see them, and you know what? I don’t WANT miracles. A miracle, by definition, is something you can’t predict, control or explain, at all. There is no professional training or certification for miracle workers. If I go to somebody for treatment, or lessons, I want them to know what they’re doing, and be able to explain it to me a little bit, and give me a straight answer about what I can expect to get from them. I think some of those senior practitioners you mentioned can do that, that they do in fact know what they’re doing.
    I think there are better ways of passing that knowledge along than what the Guild is currently providing, and they need to be found. Let’s make some use of our vaunted creative intelligence and analytical powers, and figure out a way to deliver and nurture the work more effectively. I’m out of the game; I’m not practicing, or planning to, but I have some ideas how that might be done.

  21. Brad Beldner

    Hey brother lighten up, tell it to Moshe. He originated it. Then it got passed own through the ranks to me from one of our respected trainers who was trying to make an over generalized but basically correct statement.

    I wouldn’t go to a classically trained PT for an integrated learning experience. Any monkey can sight read an ATM transcript and clients will get results. Of course PT’s also specialize in things like burn rehab which I have no training for, so I may use their services at some point. But for re-establishing association into the body and orienting, find me that novice 4th year practitioner that attended 80% of the training days and is teaching a public class.

    PT’s, OTs, Dc’s, Rolfers, and the guys that do the primal scream therapy know a lot I don’t know. I may grab a trick or two from them but I am not into their over all method and ideology. That’s why I chose the curriculum I did. Its all subjective and not absolute anyway. I think the Feldenkrais method (In it’s current form and from my conversations w/other practitioners) misses the mark in many circumstances and in fact is backwards in some things like of trauma physiology/psychology and working with some categories of children. (I think most of the original 13 would agree with at least some of this.) So I fill in the banks with other methods that are more precise like Somatic Experiencing and the Anat Baniel method who have it down to a fine art. I think a lot of practitioners do that too. Moshe was the only one doing his method.

    I like your definition of miracle and I always come from the place of expecting one with everyone I work with, no exceptions- period. I would imagine that’s how Moshe worked – in a sense of “I wonder” getting himself out of the way so something other than the ordinary could happen. Living in the ordinary and predictable is what brings people in the door. Breaking out of the ordinary into the miraculous, the previously unpredictable is what sets the work apart from some other methods.Getting yourself out of the way for that to be so is a practice unto itself.

    Clients don’t know what they are doing when there is a change.They know something is happening. But once they say it is “this”, I believe they are trending in a direction w/a ceiling on it. You can quiz them on semantics but if you tilt them into the conceptual, so much for awakening. Of course the ego usually feels comfort and hopeful with this.

    I like some of what the training offers, and for me, it also has many holes that aren’t suitable for the work that I want to do. I don’t call my self a Feldenkrais practitioner. It is just one of the lenses I use that forms the whole of my current practice. And that is always changing and I like the feel of it but don’t know where it is going to go. That’s a miracle!

  22. Jerry Larson

    “Hey brother lighten up, tell it to Moshe. ”

    Well, thanks. I think I’m pretty much in the right place about it. I’m not suffering or anything; after all, I moved on long ago. I’m sorry if it seems like I came down on you like a ton of bricks or something, but given the trainers and the trainees are repeating this kind of offensive nonsense to each other all the time, and never think twice about it, it probably takes some emphasis to get the message across. Look, for all you knew, I might have BEEN a PT. I assure you, most PT’s, including the ones that are probably in your training, are offended by that kind of thing. I know the ones in my training were.

    I had a pretty hard time putting up with up some of the trainers; I’m clear that I never would have lasted through a training with Moshe, and I doubt if I could have told him anything.

    Of course it’s true that if what you want is Feldenkrais work, you have to go a Feldenkrais person, no matter how ill-qualified. Nevertheless, there’s no need to go around with your nose in the air insulting every other field of human knowledge and endeavor all the time. I know you guys are not aware of it; that’s why I’m trying to call your attention to it. A respectful, collegial attitude toward other health professions and awareness mind-body disciplines, besides being the ethical approach to take, might pay you guys some big dividends, or at least keep you out of some trouble some time.

    There’s a big difference between saying, “the methods and goals of Feldenkrais work are what I’m interested in, not those of PT or Rolfing or whatever”, vs. “the worst Feldenkraiser is better than the best PT”. Besides being unwarrantedly offensive, it’s not true.

    I’ll give you an example of what the “worst Feldenkraiser” might be able to accomplish. This is a true story, about a former girlfriend of mine, but it happened before I met her. She was in about the second year of her Feldenkrais training, and the man she was involved with suffered some kind of tragic accident, stroke, or something, was in a coma, and eventually perished. Now, as far as I know, she wasn’t particularly better, worse, or more or less brainwashed or deluded than anyone else in her training, but she did have this idea that Feldenkrais work is unique and wonderful and can help with just about anything, and can’t possibly do any harm. Without having any medical knowledge, or experience of coma patients, she thought she could help by doing FI on this unfortunate, comatose, fellow, and she cared about him, so she spent a lot of time working on him. Of course he didn’t wake up or get better, but worse than that, one day she dropped him! In the hospital, she’s working on him alone in his room and she drops him on the floor! She managed to get under him and break his fall, I guess, but then she couldn’t get up because she’s a lightweight and he was a big huge heavyweight guy; she had to wait for the nurse to happen by so she could get some help. The guy’s family finally had to tell her not to come around any more.

    Nobody in her training had told her that she couldn’t raise the brain dead, that there’s no evidence that FI helps in coma patients, that you ought to have some experience with sick people before you go into a hospital and work on critically ill patients, or that there was any possibility of ever doing harm. In fact, she’d been encouraged to think just the way she was thinking.

    There was another guy around, not in my training but in another one about the same time, who thought when Christopher Reeve got hurt that it was some kind of big opportunity for the Feldenkrias community; something to the effect that Feldenrkais could help him and it would be great publicity for us. I’m sure glad he didn’t get to take that message to Mr. Reeve or his family.
    This guy, too, had probably never even met a quadriplegic, let alone try to help one with Feldenkrais work.

    That’s the kind of results the “worst Feldenkraiser” can produce, especially lacking any medical knowledge, and having this false belief that Feldenkrais people are smarter than everyone else, know everything, can help with anything, and can produce “miracles” and somehow never do any harm.
    That’ s why I wouldn’t go to a Feldenkrais practitioner that I thought didn’t know what he or she was doing. And I wouldn’t go to you, Brad, if your attitude is that being the space for miracles is an adequate substitute for being responsible about your results, or being competent. I think everybody should know what they’re doing, in the first place know whether they do or not (!), and when we’re learning, or when we’re faced with a situation we have no relevant experience for, we should be responsible about it.

    If this sounds too heavy, I’m sorry, but I’m not feeling heavy; I’m feeling good.
    I’m just pointing out another facet of the jewel of truth, that usually doesn’t get enough attention, imho.

  23. Barbara Morgan

    Jerry, you raise great points.

    How does one develop competence in FIs? As a novice I can’t answer specifically but I tend to agree with whoever said it about needing to have done 400 before you really know what you are doing. That number might be a bit high. But whatever it is, the skill comes gradually with the doing.

    I remember having had the thought regarding practice competence in my field of neurology that I didn’t feel confident that I “knew” a disease until I had seen 100 cases. The number is arbitrary, but that was the number that gave me the feeling that I really knew a particular condition, how to interpret patients’ signs and symptoms. I agree with you that I wouldn’t want to go to the person who has only done a few. Not everybody has the luxury of choosing the best and most experienced. But it is true that inexperienced doctors, even after residency and sometimes fellowship, often have difficulty focusing when patients have too many problems and don’t give them a clear textbook presentation. They can get bewildered, befuddled and de-railed and go off on tangents and order too many tests that don’t lead anywhere. Maturity in one’s field emerges gradually from experience.

    Yes I agree with you that there should be specific training core competencies. It is both a theory and a practice. Both are necessary. You can read about the theory. And you must. I don’t know how the standards are insured. That is a big topic that must be explored. Regarding how to learn the hands on…

    Maybe my early experiences in developing practical competence in EMG might be relevant to this discussion.

    When I finished my residency 24 years ago I felt OK about most of my diagnostic skills, but didn’t think I had had enough practice with EMG. Most of my fellow residents at the time had the same concern. Some of the residency directors gave as response to our complaint of feelings of inadequacy that we could do a two year post-graduate EMG fellowship. In reality, though, most neurologists do EMGs and only a tiny fraction have done post-residency training in the skill. It is a skill that requires some theory, which you can get from a book, and a LOT of physical, tactile, and technical skill that involves electricity and needles and isn’t very comfortable for patients. I had had three months’ hands on with a practical young mentor and another month or two with a grandfather type professor who was not patient or flexible enough in his own skin to allow a fumbling novice to do anything but observe. The three months’ hands on felt like very little, but I actually learned most of my skills with that training.

    Still I felt woefully inadequate “performing” EMG and when I got my first job I tried to convince my new colleague that he could do all the EMGs and I could do the EEGs. He refused to accept that. My next suggestion was that I should do them with him for a year. I envisioned a leisurely continuation of my EMG training in a private clinic. He countered by saying he would do it for a month. Meaning one Friday a week for a month. Which would have been like what you said about people in training watching while practitioners do FIs on clients. You would need to have a really tolerant practitioner and a tolerant and focused client. I experienced an FI in a crowded room recently at my training headquarters and I felt like I couldn’t concentrate. Having noise and disruption interfered with my learning experience. So in my opinion public FIs like that probably shouldn’t be “paid” since it is qualitatively a different experience than a private FI.

    In the case of my hoped for EMG practicums, my colleague soon lost patience with the idea of mentoring me. He was too busy for that. I understand that now. I had only one day with him before I was thrown to my own devices.

    So my next scheme was to invite my husband into the lab late at night and ply him with alcohol to make sure I knew where to put the electrodes before taking on paying customers. It was rather amusing when the president of the clinic knocked on the door and walked in because he wanted to meet my husband. Needless to say my husband didn’t volunteer for a second session. Fortunately I lived in an area populated by a lot of elderly German farmers, an ethnic group known for stoicism and not given to low pain threshholds or needle phobia. They were my salvation. Even three years later at my second job I occasionally called on my colleagues for help when I had technical difficulties. But gradually it got easier and in time very easy. Like driving a car. Or learning to dance.

    I recall that in my residency all the residents thought our young mentor professor was some sort of number savant because he would predict the outcomes of the nerve conductions as he gathered the numbers, without having done the final calculations. He was, in reality, experienced. And I can do that now too. The brain works that way. We learn skills. What seems impossible becomes possible and what seems only possible becomes easy. Hmm.

    See one do one teach one is only the beginning. We have to have solid experience in the theory and hands on practice. I’ve had a couple hands ons with fellow students in my training and felt incredibly fumbly. My fellow feldy learner partners did as well.

    Your postings on this are really important and have sensitized me to the importance of trying to get as much practical experience as I possibly can during my Feldenkrais training.

    My friends and relations will have a lot of freebies, that’s for sure. I don’t think my husband will stay awake for 400, though. Even without alcohol.

  24. Barbara Morgan

    Jerry, you raise many other excellent points about humility and respect for other disciplines. I have worked with physical therapists and doctors for a long time. We all have our particular training which fosters a particular way of seeing and interacting with patients/clients.

    Medicine has its blind spots, such as chronic back pain, for example. I learned nothing about how to treat it in my training. In truth, it’s not an area of shining competence in medicine. Physical therapists have great skills at palpation and observation, and at making minute observations about posture, but they sometimes have trouble putting it all together conceptually. And Feldys…Well, practitioners and students of the Feldenkrais method, probably should limit their scope to people who are not in coma. We wouldn’t want to over reach.

    There are true believers everywhere. We can’t blame Moshe Feldenkrais for creating zealotry. But yes, I agree with you about a whiff of snobbery.

    Moshe was a genius. And in my opinion as brilliant as Einstein and possibly even more innovative. But he was only a man.

    I agree with you that a novice feldy is a novice feldy. But a novice anything is a novice. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Indulge me in an illustrative digression. One of my favorite patients is actually sort of a novice Indian chief. He inherited the position, but the tribe was tiny and it more or less fell apart and never achieved official tribal status in the United States. So this man who would be chief, who knows a lot about traditional medicines, feels a powerful sense of duty, and tells a lot of great stories, is a displaced, non-practicing Indian chief. He never got a chance to learn or use the skills he would have to master to do that job. For sociological reasons completely unrelated to Feldenkrais training he is a novice. A frustrated, non-practicing Indian chief.

    Jerry, I think you come off to some as being bitter hence the “lighten up, tell it to Moshe” comment. But possibly your edge is sharpened by your perception that you aren’t being heard. And I hope that you are heard because you are talking about important problems. About training FI skills that can be used in the real world. And about not being Puritanical and fundamentalist.

    The method is amazing. I want to know more. And like you, I don’t care if movie stars learn Feldenkrais like they did yoga. But….we should be able to ask questions. If Moshe hadn’t been cocky, and had trusted the orthopedist, who was probably quite average and no doubt afraid of his know-it-all patient, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. So if somebody comes along and challenges some of the deeply held Feldenkrais truths, I hope s/he won’t be banished from the kingdom like a covenant breaker. What isn’t growing anymore is dying.

  25. Ryan Nagy

    Hi everyone – Thanks for your comments and for keeping the conversation going. Many of these conversations seems to happen “offstage” in a forum or conference where others do not have access to them. I think it’s important to bring these ideas “out into the light”, so to speak.

    I don’t have much to add, other than what others have already mentioned – we all have our blind spots. It’s a side effect of being a human being, living in a physical body, in a particular culture, at a particular point in time.

    - Ryan

  26. Jerry Larson

    I want to say, I’m very impressed with the way my comments have been taken.
    I was quite concerned that I’d just be perceived as “negative” or “bitter” or whatever, and I was prepared to say “OK, I’ll shut up. None of my business anyway”. Instead, a lot of people are acknowledging that the problems I’m pointing to are real; not getting upset; and having something relevant to say.
    Well, OK, only two or three people, but I’m not getting booed off the stage.

    Actually, I’m NOT bitter; I enjoyed my training, felt like I got a lot of out it, and after putting four years into it, the Feldenkrais culture is a part of me, I care about it, and I’d like to see it prosper. So please know that. If I’m not saying how wonderful it is, and how rosy the prospects are, it’s because plenty of people are saying that already, and though the work IS wonderful, the evidence does not support the claim that the prospects are so rosy.

    I can’t help noticing, and I’m just matter of factly pointing out, some serious problems that I think explain why it isn’t prospering the way I’d like to see it.

    I agree with everything Barbara had to say, and I appreciated the EMG story.
    I have the advantage of knowing what EMG is; I do it in the OR, and I’ve assisted physicians with clinical EMG. I think the problem of learning EMG in your practice is not as bad as the problem of learning FI on your clients, because we know exactly what EMG is supposed to be for, which patients to do it on, and so on. Plus, unpleasant though it is for the patient, they put up with it because their doctor tells them they need it, whereas with FI, it’s NOT unpleasant, but it’s expensive, you have to pay for it yourself, and how do you know it’s worth the time and money?

    It’s really difficult for me to understand why your colleague didn’t want to do your EMG’s, given they pay extremely well and don’t take long to do.

    Look, if we (or at least, many of us) can acknowledge that there is a problem, the next thing would be to define it, and look for solutions.
    I’ll address that in the next post(s)– and I’d like to suggest that other people can do that too. What exactly is the problem? What could be done differently to improve matters?

  27. Jerry Larson

    Brian said something to the effect that a talking monkey could read an ATM, and people could get the benefit. On the one hand, he obviously has a point. People can benefit even from taped ATM’s, and of course it’s much safer and easier for the beginner to teach ATM than to do FI’s.
    And it’s not just his opinion; I believe this is kind of an unquestioned fundamental assumption of the Feldenkrais culture, that FI is where it’s really at, that that’s where all the money is, that teaching ATM is like riding a bike with training wheels; you have to do FI or you’re not a practitioner.

    However, I think this is a totally wrong attitude, and a big part of the problem with Feldenkrais work in the US. Both modalities are the work. One is not less than the other, just because one is harder to do. In fact, ATM, where the student learns from his or her own active exploration, may be the nobler and more central of the two methods.

    Further, you and I can learn from a tape; that may not be true for someone who’s not familiar with the work. A good ATM teacher may be necessary for an inexperienced client, and the sky is the limit on what a good teacher can add to an ATM lesson. This is where new practitioners could do some good, and probably can’t do much harm.

    I think it would be fair to say that you need to consistently average at least 20 FI’s a week to make a living, including cancellations, rescheduling, bounced checks and everything. Of course it depends on how much you charge, and how much you need to make, but if you charge $75, 50 weeks a year, that’s $75K/year. To make more, you have to charge more, or do even more lessons. 20 FI’s is getting pretty close to a full-time job; I think you’ll feel like you’re working– and it’s VERY hard to go from zero to 20 clients a week.

    What about making a living doing ATM? Well, let’s say you charge $15, or you clear that after expenses. If you can get 20 people in a class, 5 times a week, that’s the same income as in the above FI example. It could be 20 classes with 5 students, or even one class with 100 students, doesn’t matter. It would be a lot easier to do, teaching 5 classes a week, than doing 20 FI’s. And with 100 ATM students, you’d have lots of referrals; people in your neighborhood would know what Feldenkrais is; if you wanted to do FI too, and knew how to do it, that client base would give you all the FI clients you want, or at least an excellent start.

    Of course it wouldn’t be easy to convince 100 people to take your classes,
    but it might be easier to do that, at $15/class, than to get 20 people to pay $75 for FI.

    The main points are:
    1) A new graduate can do a decent job at ATM, but not FI, so if you could get that many students, you might be able to keep them and build from there.
    2) If you could get even more students, you could probably handle them, whereas it would be awfully hard work to do 30 or 40 FI’s a week, especially as a beginner.
    3) Above all, if a high percentage of graduates went out and had the kind of very successful ATM practice I’m talking about, no one would be saying “Felden-What?”

    So I think the over-emphasis on FI vs ATM is one of the biggest problems the Feldenkrais community has, and changing that would be the best and easiest way to improve matters.

    As I see it, and I realize not everyone will agree with all of this, there are several problems, interrelated of course. Not in any particular order:
    –most people don’t know what “Feldenwhat?” is, and that problem isn’t clearing up with time. it was the same ten years ago; US Feldenkrais trainings have existed for 30 years, and still most people haven’t heard of it.
    –New graduates are very far from being proficient in FI, and have little or no ongoing support and training.
    –Feldenkrais work is not paid for by insurance; you generally can’t get a referral from other health-related professions; and it’s not clear to anyone, not to the new practitioner, not to the client, not to other professionals, exactly what kind of problems the method is effective for and what it’s not.
    It may be different with experienced, established practitioners, but that’s certainly a real problem for beginners.
    –Even if a new graduate can do good FI’s and help people, they don’t know anything about the field of medicine in general, don’t have experience with patients, don’t know how and when to refer people out, or how to avoid doing harm–if only by not telling clients when they need to see a doctor.
    They don’t know how to co-exist with other professions.

    Here’s my suggestion: separate the ATM teacher training from the FI practitioner training. Let everyone take a two-year training and get certified to do ATM (permanently certified, with quality control and continuing education).
    Let those established practitioners and trainers who are in a position to do so, offer hands-on, practically oriented training in FI, to those who are already certified ATM teachers. Let FI training take a long time if it needs to, maybe five years; make sure the FI practitioners develop and demonstrate competence before they get certified to practice wihout supervision, and make sure they get educated about anatomy, physiology, and what goes on in medicine and health professions generally. Not everyone needs to do FI, or at least they don’t need to do it right away, and charge for it, before they know what they’re doing.

    That’s just one scenario, but I actually think if that were put into effect it would pretty much solve the problems.

    1. Ryan Nagy

      I thought this was an appropriate frame of reference for our various conversations here:

      “…when you try to change someone’s worldview forcibly, they get a headache. People become defensive in the face of a frontal assault on their worldview.” From Seth Godin: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/all_marketers_are_liars/2009/11/a-new-cover-a-new-foreword-but-the-same-book.html

      Jerry – I am with you 100% on the ATM frame of reference, though perhaps for different reasons. ATM has been very important to me due to some lifelong issues that I was dealing with. A separate ATM certification process could be very useful. Though, I don’t think it will happen in the community. Someone will have to come up with his or her own branding and certification process. – Ryan

  28. Jerry Larson

    “…when you try to change someone’s worldview forcibly, they get a headache. People become defensive in the face of a frontal assault on their worldview.”

    No doubt. I hardly expect that a few posts from some guy who took the training a while ago are going to change the culture! Still, somebody might get an idea. The worldview you speak of is something that a lot of the trainers and guild muckeymucks have believed in for thirty years or more, and are totally invested in; they’re not about to change. Current students and recent graduates, though, have only been brainwashed with this view for a few years; there may be some hope for them.

    I’m not denying, I very much agree, that the Feldenkrais Method is a great thing. What I’m saying is, let’s just face the fact that the way the Guild is going about promoting that method is not working. The reason people still say “Felden-what?” is not that the Method just got here. Feldenkrais professional trainings have been going on in the US since 1980, thirty years now, a generation, and lots of people have been through them. If a reasonable number of those graduates were successful practitioners, the method and ideas of Feldenkrais wouldn’t be so unknown, and if they weren’t so unknown, it wouldn’t be so hard for prax to make it. It’s a vicious circle, and the only cure for a vicious circle is to change direction.

    I understand that the way I’m presenting these ideas may be clumsy, but it’s the best I can do right now. At least people have had a chance to hear a different point of view, even the expression is not ideal.

    >Jerry – I am with you 100% on the ATM frame of reference, though perhaps for different reasons. ATM has been very important to me due to some lifelong issues that I was dealing with. A separate ATM certification process could be very useful. Though, I don’t think it will happen in the community. Someone will have to come up with his or her own branding and certification process. – Ryan

    You say “within the community”– if you mean the Guild, I agree with you. The community could be defined more broadly, and more loosely.
    Of course, Ruthy Alon has already come up with her own process, and sounds like she knows how to train trainers too. That’s a start.

    btw I don’t know if it’s still true, but in my day they actually did certify us as ATM teachers after the second year of the training. What’s different about my proposal is that people shouldn’t be certified to do FI just because they put in four years; they should get more training and experience, and actually demonstrate competence, BEFORE being certified. If that means not everyone gets certified for FI, or it takes much longer, so be it.

    I’m trying to get everything said here, because I think I’m about done; I’ve said about all I have to say, so I want to mention what I think is one of the worst things about this failure to prepare people in the training. If you have a relatively small number of successful, established prax, and a few trainers who don’t really do too many FI’s for the public, because their main job is trainings; and then you have a lot of unprepared graduates trying to learn on the public, do the math. What you have then is most, or let’s say half, of the FI lessons in the country being done by people who don’t yet know what they’re doing, may never really get there. So most clients who take some FI lessons don’t get come away with a very good impression of the method, OK?! That’s the most pernicious thing about this throwing the graduates out in the cold to sink or swim on their own. People who don’t really know what they’re doing can’t make a very good impression on the larger community– and they aren’t doing their clients much good either. That’s my view. I believe in competence and knowhow, not “miracles”.

    The idea that it’s FINE for people to go out and learn on their clients for several years before they’re any good, well, I just really disagree with that, and I think the results speak for themselves.

    Notice that the solution I proposed–concentrating on ATM first– is something any individual can do themselves. Still, you have the problem that there’s not much of an existing market for ATM.

    I think the Guild has made a few major mistakes. One is emphasizing FI over ATM; another is refusing to play nicely with other disciplines, especially in the health care field, which means you can’t get referrals or get paid by insurance. The other thing individuals can do, if they’re doctors or PT’s or something, is take the Feldenkrais ideas into their other field, where they can get referrals, collect insurance, etc., and it doesn’t really matter what the Guild thinks about it.
    Another huge mistake is to be so overwhelmingly concerned with dogma, and not with competence and practical knowledge.

    The most glaring memory I have of my training is my ED, and some other trainers, being fanatically concerned that the method not be “misunderstood”. I’m not even sure that the heterodoxies they’re so determined to suppress ARE misunderstandings, but in any case, look, everybody knows Einstein, E=MC2. Everybody knows Freud, subconscious, id, ego, superego. Not one person in a thousand has any understanding of what E=MC2 actually means, but they’ve heard of it, and it doesn’t hurt Einstein’s legacy to have most people not understand it. The people who need to understand, do. What’s important is not agreement with the official dogma; it’s actually knowing how to do the work, and what kind of changes clients really go through.

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