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.
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.
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