Note: Kate Poss traveled to New York earlier in March to visit and receive treatment for arthritis from her friend Linda Hanson. Linda Hanson and her client Nicole added clarifying additions to this story.
Earlier this month I visited a long-time dear friend I’ve known since we were five years old, first meeting as playmates in 1960 in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
These health-enhancing modalities, complimenting her 40+ year physical therapy practice, have been a part of Linda’s tool box in successfully treating clients. From her work treating people with head injuries, post traumatic stress, children with developmental challenges, and hundreds of others, she sees the benefit of her work over and over again.
CranioSacral Therapy, was pioneered in 1975 by John E. Upledger, DO, an osteopathic physician and professor of biomechanics at Michigan State University. It is a gentle, hands-on therapy which uses the guidance of the craniosacral rhythm and fascia to determine where there is an imbalance in the system and how to assist a person’s self-correcting ability to move towards better movement and functioning.
“By listening and following the craniosacral rhythm of the baby, child or adult, then working with the specific area or areas presented, I can listen to what the baby/child or adult needs in the tissues,” Linda explained. “This results in the person’s feeling more comfortable, with a decrease in pain, increased relaxation, freedom of motion, improved range of motion, discovering something about themselves, or a general sense of well being.”
Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education, uses principles of physics and biomechanics to create awareness through movement. Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, an engineer and physicist, pioneered the method and taught it during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Its practice is designed to improve body awareness through movement and focused attention.
“Dr. Feldenkrais was masterful in decreasing our compensatory movements that we acquire, often after injury or many types of injuries, whether emotional or physical,” Linda added. “Combining craniosacral therapy with Feldenkrais method helps to empower the individual to participate in his/her own healing and growth. It is another piece of the healing paradigm.”
The Child’Space method, created by Dr. Chava Shelhav, a Feldenkrais® Method teacher, is a wellness approach to baby/child bonding and developing. Its focus is designed to help parents and caregivers learn how to support and encourage their child’s development. This unique approach focuses on the sensory system of motor learning. It incorporates touch (babies’ first language), speech, facial expressions, song, rhythm, and movement, based on the developmental motor sequence; i.e. rolling, crawling, and clapping hands.
By focusing on these avenues of learning, hands-on techniques of tapping, proprioceptive feedback, and motor developmental lessons, the parents are empowered to more confidently participate and promote their child’s well being.
“This is extremely important when working with all children, but especially with babies demonstrating development delays,” Linda explained. “A parent might go from a frustrated state of not quite sure of how to help their child, to feeling more confident in interacting and participating in their baby’s/child’s growth. Using Child’Space is very specific and produces the child’s body image in his mind. Every movement, gesture, and thought comes from the central nervous system. Using this method helps babies develop a better awareness of themselves and how to negotiate their environment.”
Linda uses these skills for the special education population when teaching parents how to assist their children.
While visiting in New York, Linda introduced me to Nicole, a school psychologist, whose 3-year-old son is visually impaired and has developmental delays, minimal language development, and qualified for early intervention services.
“He was the kind of kid you couldn’t hold, and as a school psychologist, I didn’t know what was wrong,” Nicole explained, while Linda treated Gavin in the living room nearby. “Linda does hands on craniosacral therapy. I’d never heard of it before. Without Linda’s treatment, he wouldn’t have made all the progress he has. I went from barely holding my own child, and little by little Linda did her magic. I tell her he’s a totally different person.”
Linda started treating Gavin last April. Using techniques she learned through the Child’Space method, CranioSacral Therapy, and gross motor activities (like having him swing, run, walk up and down hills), she tapped Gavin’s limbs and body so that he became increasingly aware of his body.
“Gavin has significantly improved his balance, spatial awareness, and ability to interact with his family and peers,” Linda said. “Gavin also receives prompt speech therapy, behavioral optometry, using prism glasses and optometry therapy, special instruction, and occupational therapy. It’s taken about six months to get us all working together. I was the only therapist for the first three months before the other therapies began. Every time I work with him, I see little changes.The little changes add up to becoming big changes.”
“What Linda does is put it all together,” Nicole added. “She collaborates with Gavin’s other therapists. Without her work, he would not have made the progress he has. Linda taught me how to work with my son and help him feel where his body is so he can negotiate his world.”
Linda taught Nicole techniques such as proprioceptive input, using specific tapping, which brings awareness to his body.
“Gavin needed spacial awareness so he wouldn’t bump into walls and corners,” Linda said. “Gavin once had no idea where his body was in space. He was a very withdrawn little boy when I first met him. And his mom wasn’t able to hug him.”
Nicole said she had to slow herself down and connect with her own inner child in order to successfully be able to correctly touch her son.
“I had to learn how to see the world through Gavin’s eyes to understand how to connect with him without being overbearing,” Nicole noted. “I wanted to fix, fix, fix at first. Linda has taught me so much about myself, and how to really understand the challenges that my child and other children I work with may be experiencing, such as not being aware of their own body. Being aware of our own body is something many take for granted, but to others, like my son, it is something that needs to be taught. Now, looking back, I often wonder how many other children I worked with who experienced this struggle and never received the proper therapy for it, since CranioSacral Therapy is not spoken about in many school districts; this is something I hope will change.
“I look at Gavin while in different environments and have to imagine how that specific environment feels to Gavin – it’s more about the feeling – and what strategies we can put in place to support him with achieving his goals,” Nicole added. “This is where collaborating techniques and strategies from the various therapies help immensely.”
In the wake of his progress, Nicole recalled Gavin’s previous inability to walk down a hill. Following his therapy with Linda, she tapped his legs and he walked downhill.
“Then he did a frog jump,” Nicole recalled. “Linda helps to build Gavin’s endurance, which can be seen across all domains of his life.”
As a therapist Linda believes that therapy should be fun.
Nicole is on a childcare leave now, coordinating Gavin’s various early intervention services. She designed a line of children’s clothing and accessories on Etsy, raising awareness for strabismus, and for children who are differently abled. Visit her site here.
Later in the week, Linda treated a friend, a retired hospice nurse named Cathy Fanslow, for pain she was feeling following a fall on ice.
“CranioSacral work is one of the highest forms of healing,” Cathy said. “Amazing, relieving, freeing and unwinding.”
“When using the CranioSacral approach, the body responds by showing and guiding you toward its pathways of healing,” Linda noted. “To all readers of this article: Good Luck with your journey in living in health.”
To find CranioSacral practitioners locally visit this site.
Feldenkrais resources can be found here.
Child’Space practitioners can be found at this site.