Alexander Technique for People Living with Parkinson’s
The Alexander Technique offers people living with Parkinson’s self-management strategies that can help them gain more control of movement patterns, with potential improvements in balance, posture and walking. It can enable them to participate in everyday activities with greater confidence and minimal interference from symptoms.
The Walter Carrington Educational Trust at the Alexander Technique Centre aims to further the work of F. M. Alexander and make it more available to people living with Parkinson’s. In Autumn 2016, the Trust supported four teachers of the Alexander Technique to receive specialist training and gain more experience in working with this population. These teachers have developed and delivered several group introductory workshops for people affected by Parkinson’s, as well as a continuing professional development programme for other Alexander teachers. In February 2018, the Trust sponsored six more teachers have joined this initiative to receive specialist training, and in 2019, ten more teachers benefited from the teacher training programme, this time with assistance from both the Trust and Parkinson’s UK. Two afternoon workshops for people living with Parkinson’s – including carers – were offered on 8th and 15th February, 2019.
The activities since 2016 include:
- Participation of the four teachers of the original core group in a workshop day led by Monika Gross, Executive Director of The Poise Project:
– Adapting Alexander Technique for People Living with Parkinson’s & and their partners.
– Active-Learning Workshop: Skills to Manage Symptoms of Parkinson’s Based on Alexander Technique (AT) Principles.
Monika continues to support us with her valuable advice and expertise.
- Organisation of and participation in a teacher training workshop with Chloe Stallibrass. Chloe Stallibrass is an Alexander Technique teacher and researcher and has published a number of papers relating the use of the Alexander Technique by people with Parkinson’s disease. A detailed academic account of a randomised controlled trial of the Alexander Technique for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease was published in Clinical Rehabilitation 2002 (Stallibrass et al.) and can be downloaded from Chloe’s website here.
- A survey conducted among STAT teachers to pull together the current experience and knowledge of teachers already working with people living with Parkinson’s. An overview can be downloaded here.
- A series of five individual lessons sponsored by the Trust was given by the teachers of the original core group to four individuals with a Parkinson’s diagnosis in spring 2017.
- Two afternoon workshops for up to 15 people living with Parkinson’s (including carers) held at the Alexander Technique Centre on the 8th October and 26th November 2017. These workshops were sponsored by the Walter Carrington Educational Trust and free for all participants.
- Several lectures/demonstrations have been given by members of the original core group of teachers to various local Parkinson’s support groups.
- Participation and assistance in two London events by The Poise Project (Monika Gross) and AT4P (Daniel Shepherd): An Alexander Technique teacher continuing education day: “Adapting Alexander Technique for People Living with Parkinson’s and their Care Partners” and “London Symposium – Alexander Technique for Parkinson’s”.
- Two training days for six additional teachers to join the initiative were held on 11th and 25th February, 2018, including training sessions led by Chloe Stallibrass, Daiga Heisters (Head of the Parkinson’s UK Excellence Network) and Sarah Webb (Founder of the South London Younger Parkinson’s Network – SLYPN). This included hands-on assistance during afternoon workshops for people living with Parkinson’s, including carers, led by Liz Dodgson, Loretta Manson and Regina Stratil.
- A series of ten individual lessons sponsored by the Trust was given by teachers participating in this initiative to ten individuals with a Parkinson’s diagnosis during spring and summer, 2018.
- Two training workshops for up to ten additional teachers as the next cohort to join the initiative were held in February 2019, led by Loretta Manson, Liz Dodgson, Dai Richards and Regina Stratil, with presentations from NHS Parkinson’s Disease nurse specialist Pete Smith and Dance for Parkinson’s practitioner, Sonia Illescas, from Rambert dance company. This encompassed two afternoon workshops for people living with Parkinson’s – including care partners. These workshops were co-funded with the kind assistance of Parkinson’s UK.
- A series of ten individual lessons, sponsored by Parkinson’s UK in collaboration with the Trust, will be given by teachers who have attended the continuing professional development programme to six individuals with a Parkinson’s diagnosis, during spring and summer, 2019.
All teachers involved are fully qualified teachers of the Alexander Technique and have undertaken special training in working with people living with Parkinson’s. These are the four teachers who have pioneered this initiative together with the Trust:
Liz Dodgson trained with the Carringtons about 16 years ago, and runs a private practice from home and from Roko Gym in Chiswick. She particularly delights in helping people to be able to return to enjoyable, pain-free activity and works regularly with runners in particular. Having had only one student with Parkinsonism during her sixteen years of practice prior to this initiative, she feels that a concerted effort may be needed if the benefits of AT are to be brought to this community.
Loretta Manson trained with the Carringtons at the Constructive Teaching Centre in London, graduating in 1997. She teaches at The Bloomsbury Alexander Centre in Holborn and at The Alexander Technique Studio in Wandsworth Common. A keen dancer from childhood, and now very involved with Lindy Hop and Argentine tango, Loretta was diagnosed early on with scoliosis and multiple joint problems. First-hand experience of living with long-term pain and fatigue gives Loretta particular insight into the challenges faced by pupils in need of relief from tension, pain, backache, low energy and mood. Loretta values the Alexander Technique as a constructive approach to managing our individual limitations and living as fully, freely and joyfully as possible.
Dai Richards trained with Carolyn Nicholls in Brighton qualifying in 2012 and currently teaches full time in Ditchling near Hove, West Sussex. He has a broad and varied experience of working with movement, injury and recovery. He has an excellent track record of helping people with their painful conditions as well as performance in running, cycling, swimming, dancing, and skiing through the Alexander Technique. Recently Dai has been particularly active in taking AT into the traditional workplace.
Regina Stratil trained at the Alexander Technique Studio in London, qualifying in 2014, and now runs a private practice at the Alexander-Technik Studio Graz in Austria. She has a particular interest in applying the Alexander Technique to movement and movement difficulties, having a strong movement background herself as a martial arts expert of 25 years’ experience. After studying Chloe Stallibrass‘ research on Alexander Technique and Parkinson’s and participating in a workshop with The Poise Project, she became passionate about the potential benefits of the Alexander Technique to the quality of life of people living with Parkinson’s. Regina had initially been the connecting link to the Walter Carrington Educational Trust and instrumental in moving this initiative forward before moving back to her native Austria in 2018.
These are the teachers who trained in February 2019:
These are the teachers who trained in February 2018:
If you would like to know about lessons for people living with Parkinson’s that are sponsored by the Trust and Parkinson’s UK, please click here.
If you are an Alexander Technique teacher interested in Trust programmes for teachers please click here.
Here is a collection of relevant research and material around the Alexander Technique and Parkinson’s Disease.
To read some feedback we got for workshops and lessons for people living with Parkinson’s please click here.
A compilation of information on the Alexander Technique for Parkinson’s may also be found on the website of the American independent nonprofit organisation The Poise Project.
Watch Canadian AT teacher Caprice Boisvert and Robert Davis explain how the Alexander Technique has helped Robert manage his Parkinson’s symptoms: