A few facts about the Alexander Technique

Patient has to be active participant

What do people need to know about the Alexander Technique before pursuing it? First, they need to understand that it is not a therapy. "It is not going to address specific symptoms directly," says Robert Rickover, MEng, MA, a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique in Lincoln, NE. While learning new patterns of movement may ease an aching back problem, there is no guarantee that it will make a difference.

They also need to know that they will be asked to participate in the process. It is not passive like massage therapy. The sessions help participants learn how their movements are causing tension in their body and how they might move more fluidly with less tension. People don’t take lessons for years and years, but only a few weeks or months unless they become very interested and want to go further. If they come because of back pain and find that it is gone following 10-15 lessons, then they will probably stop. "Each lesson is individual and addresses the situation of where the student is at that point," says Rickover.

Patient education managers should make available a few articles by people that have been helped by the Alexander Technique, says Jerry Sontag, director of The Art of Learning Center in Berkeley, CA. In that way, people can see if anything about the technique appeals to them. "The claim that you can change your overall coordination and that change is going to have a positive effect on your overall health and well-being is just a claim until someone actually is able to observe a change," says Sontag. (Articles are available from the American Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique based in Florence, MA. See source box, p. 81.)