+ Teaching family members basic techniques? – October 06
Hey John, thanks yet again for the e-newsletter. As always, and I
don’t know how you do it, you’ve included material that prompts
me to write. Usually I’m too preoccupied with matters here in SA
to respond. But here is one SA real world question / comment.
Quite often in my practice I see a baby and parent(s) or grandparent
or carer just once or twice. This is because of my hectic schedule
and because we often don’t have practitioners nearby to follow-up,
or because people can’t afford it.
Most of these families come into teaching clinics in courses where
there is no cost. They may come from distant places, but only the once.
However, I usually find that mum or dad or somebody in the family
can easily learn to hold their baby in constructive ways, especially
They get a demo and a paper by Aletha Solter to explain this. It is
also possible to show how to massage the scalp (e.g. with shampooing),
how to stroke the spine and conception channels. Parents will usually
respond to recommendations for dietary (chelation) and feeding /
weaning problems. I have many parents / carers working very
creatively with their babies, some even coming forward for training
in CST, with others coming regularly (with their babies) to learn
more in our local evening empowerment workshops.
This situation isn’t ideal, but in the far flung communities in SA it’s
often all we’ve got. Sometimes I worry about this. One would always
prefer to be in a position to follow-up with the baby and family as a
whole, however long it takes.
However, I find that the whole family conflict situation often resolves
with up-skilling and empowerment of the parents. It helps to break
the chain of disassociative and inconsistent behaviour that the baby
is adapting to within the family.
Any feedback welcome!
Al Pelowski in Joburg
Being able to do follow up is ideal, Al. I’ll talk more about the
IDEAL a little later.
It looks like you’re faced with the dilemma John Upledger was
faced with when he realised he couldn’t treat everyone. It prompted
him to develop his ShareCare program, which is the second worst
idea he has had in a long line of good ones.
What was his first?
Well, calling what we do cranio sacral therapy, of course. He could
have picked a hundred different names. Quirky, fun, easily pronounced,
easily remembered names. Like Voltron or Gobon or Praxas or Flow…..
What I wouldn’t give to be able to say I am a Flow therapist, when
asked what I do for a living at a dinner party.
But oh no, I have to say I’m a cranio sacral therapist and they have
to ask me if I was at the Tour De France and then I have to correct
them and say, ‘That’s cranio SACRAL, not cranio CYCLE.’
So we’re stuck with it and for the sake of public recognition we
shouldn’t change it or add to it or fiddle with it at all.
No matter how much we feel that what we are doing is different
or visionary or resonant or balanced or biodynamic or whatever . .
All this re-labelling is confusing adolescent assertions of individuality
and just leaves Joe and Mary Blogs scratching their heads wondering,
Okay, back to shades of ShareCare.
While imparting new information and different perspectives is
definitely part of our job, it’s important to acknowledge the limits
of just how much skill you can impart to parents or family members.
The sorts of things you have described sound good and practical.
Massaging the scalp, stroking the spine and conception channels.
The temptation is to think you can build on this by teaching family
members to do simple techniques which I’m strongly against,
if you hadn’t noticed, and here’s why.
What has become second nature to you in terms of holding, following,
supporting and so on has taken you years to achieve.
And while the process of gaining mastery in CST is one of realising
how little needs to be done, it’s important to remember that it’s a
very informed and focused ‘little’ that we do.
Its simplicity is deceptively complex.
When you think about how long it has taken you to gain the level
of skill with a particular technique and all the subtle nuances that
only reveal themselves through time and practice, it doesn’t make
sense that you can show someone a technique and think that they
will be able to do any long lasting good with it.
Sure, everyone will feel good about it.
The family member will feel good when you’re showing them the
technique because it will feel like they’re being empowered.
You will feel good when you’re showing them the techniques because
it will assuage the aching knowledge that you can’t treat the person
yourself long term.
The person will feel good every time the family member does the
technique. They will feel good for about ten minutes or maybe
twenty but the chances of it helping long term are slim.
It takes a long time to learn how to do this well for a reason.
It’s not easy to master.
The whole SharCare idea is like giving a one-day workshop for the
friends and families of virtuoso violinists. At the workshop they learn
how to play a couple of notes on the fiddle.
They can use these ‘new skills’ on the nights that the virtuoso is a
bit tired and needs someone to fill in the for them at certain times
throughout the performance. The family member can play the notes
the virtuoso is too shagged to play.
Ridiculous, right? But it gets worse.
Giving friends and family of patients the idea that they can learn a
few techniques that will help their loved ones, generates the idea
that what we do, can be learned in 10 minutes.
It’s shooting yourself in the foot with both barrels and then
bludgeoning yourself with the gun..
I don’t think you are about to launch your own South African
ShareCare program Al, but I do understand the pressure that
the kinds of situations you have described can generate.
Considering what you have to deal with and the constraints you
have to work within, the fact that you give these families ANYTHING
to help their situation is nothing short of a bloody miracle!
And you’re not alone in that, your students and graduates are doing
remarkable things too. The outreach work you all do. The education
programs you have set up. It’s brilliant. You are all doing excellent
work in VERY difficult situations.
What I’ve talked about above is the IDEAL, what you have to work
with in South Africa is far from ideal and in that, anything you can
do is great.
I commend all the people involved in cranial work in South Africa
and you in particular Al.