Lessons in the Alexander Technique offer an individualized approach designed to develop lifelong skills for self-care that help people recognize, understand, and avoid poor habits affecting postural tone and neuromuscular coordination. "
~BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL, 2008
~BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL, 2008
The Alexander Technique & Mental Health
By Quintin Norris, MSTAT, LLAM
Over the years in practice as a teacher of the Alexander Technique in Surrey and Hampshire, I have become increasingly interested in the benefits of Alexander work for those suffering with stress, depression, anxiety and other psychological distress.
...The Alexander Technique is essentially a means of coping with whatever change may put in your way…
Tension and stress are perhaps the most common problems of our daily life. But I believe that most people's problems stem from habitual and unrecognised misuse of themselves. The Alexander Technique is uniquely placed to address this.
The link between mind and body is increasingly acknowledged these days. However, it is still not well understood and few 'treatments' or 'therapies' really reflect this truth in practice; often merely treating the individual as a passive recipient of bodily treatments.
F M Alexander was in fact way ahead of his time in recognising that the mind and body are inseparable. He developed his Technique based on individuals' psycho-physical use of themselves. So when we talk about 'use of the self', we do not just mean the use of the body and limbs in activity and movement; but comprehensively including the brain, mind, thought, feeling and emotion.
People suffering with stress, depression and anxiety quite frequently get stuck looking for a solution in the mind alone; sometimes also seeking relief from physical symptoms through bodily treatments and/or medication. But Alexander 'discovered' that how we use our bodies has an extraordinary effect on our ability to accurately perceive the world around us, as well as our emotional and physical health.
..Actually, better posture, relief from pain and physical ailments are only by-products of practising the Alexander Technique. Not, as most people think, the end in itself...
Working with the Alexander Technique allows people to change unwanted behaviour patterns; attitudes and outlooks tend to change; and it frequently results in more balanced moods and a better capacity to deal with the challenges that life throws at us.
What about Counseling and Psychotherapy?
Whilst people may find that they prefer working with the Technique than counselling or psychotherapy, the two are not necessarily exclusive. Many people use it in conjunction with psychotherapy, finding that working with the Technique puts them in a 'better' place to explore and deal with thoughts and feelings in therapy.
It can also be very empowering for people under stress, weighed down and dispirited with depression and anxiety to learn that they have the ability to change the way they function. People report being able to experience, think about and respond more appropriately and effectively to feelings rather than being overwhelmed by them.
Finally, many of my pupils come to the Technique initially for relief from physical ailments, such as back pain, but find that they continue having regular lessons long after their physical symptoms have eased. It becomes part of their life and how they deal with emotional, mental and physical stress.
In an Alexander lesson, you will not need to discuss or analyze your problems.
You will just learn something different.
The best thing is for you to experience it for yourself.