If you have spent any amount of time in the Feldenkrais community, doing the work, talking about the work, living the work, you have likely heard a refrain that goes something like this,
"Why don't more people know about Feldenkrais?"
"When will the method go viral?"
Sound familiar? As many of you know, I occasionally create and promote conferences in the world of psychotherapy and work with many students of the late Milton H. Erickson. Many of them have similar fears about Erickson's work. More than one person has told me,
"I worry that Erickson's work is fading away. Fewer people know about him today."
Personally, I think the Ericksonians are way off. Erickson's work has spread to the four corners of the world. He spawned countless modes of therapy such as Strategic Therapy, NLP, Solution-Focused Therapy, Possibility Therapy and his influence is felt by and credited by thousands of people all over the world. There are hundreds of people giving high-quality training based directly and indirectly on the work of Milton H. Erickson and an untold number of psychotherapist, coaches, psychologists and hypnotists using Erickson's work.
And in Feldenkrais community? The last time that I checked there were little more than 100 people training others to acquire the work. And, it would be hard to make the case that there are more than 1500 Feldenkrais practitioners in full time practice.
What makes the difference? Why has Erickson's work spread like wildfire and Feldenkrais' work largely languished in obscurity?
There are many factors to consider. The largest one in my view is that many Ericksonians have publicly recognized credentials that give them the right to have independent practices. That is, many Ericksonians are licensed by their respective state as psychotherapists, psychologists and the like. "Feldenkrais Practitioner" is a term that few people in the public have heard of, and the "licenses" as such, do not have any meaning in the larger world.
However, there is a larger point about the Ericksonian community that has not escaped my attention over the last few years: They write lots of books. In the online Erickson Conference that I organized and promoted last year, I counted over 87 books written by the 20 presenters! And that is just a small sample of Ericksonian presenters. I hesitate to guess how many books have been written by and about Erickson and methods that he has inspired. In a quick search on Amazon, I came up with 1400 different book listings. In the Feldenkrais world? About 200. (Just a quick perusal, my numbers are hardly scientific),
Writing books are important for many reasons. They are promotional tools for the author and the methods he or she is writing about. They keep ideas in the public eye. They keep people talking about ideas. And they establish credibility and authority.
I am not qualified to teach you how to write and publish a book on the Feldenkrais Method. But I recently attended a short, free, online overview of the process by my friend and colleague Bill O'Hanlon and I was thinking about Feldenkrais practitioners the entire time. If you think you have a book in you. And you want to get yourself and Feldenkrais ideas better known in the world, you might want to check it out. Click below to find out more:
Bill O'Hanlon on Book Writing and PublishingCourse ended!
We have some authors in the Feldenkrais community. Most notably and recently Anat Baniel. And others who have written books, but not recently, such as Ruthy Alon, Steven Shafarman and the late Jack Heggie, Yochanan Rywerant and Thomas Hanna. And some newer authors such as Lavinia Plonka, Alfons Grabher and others. But where are the rest? How will the Method get better known if it is not in the public eye? If YOU are not in the public eye?
Check out the training, if you have a few minutes. It will not disappoint. In fact, you may want to check out the style and presentation of the training as it could be useful as a way to promote your work, regardless of whether you write a book right now....
cheers - Ryan
As a matter of fact only a few days ago I was talking to a friend about writing a book addressing an aspect of the work that needs exposure so your blog is very timely. I was in the Amhurst training & have been doing the work ever since with intermittent breaks for my singing/dancing career ……. when I was younger, of course.
So glad you contacted me.
Another potentially useful activity would be discussion of Feldenkrais in an open forum, but I realize that takes a community and I’m not sure the critical mass exists. I’ve been spending some time on SomaSimple and I’m impressed by how many people get exposed to ideas there and introduce them into their clinical practice. The SomaSimple folks seem to lament their small numbers, but compared with the guilds they’ve been growing like weeds. Why? They have open discussion that anyone can take part in and they share information freely.
I recently rejoined Feldyforum to see what that group was up to. It didn’t take long to find deeply ignorant comments about the nervous system and basic physiology. And this was coming from one of the few apparently successful practitioners—someone with decades of experience who has also presented at the Guild conference and workshops nationwide.
As the world of Feldenkrais rolls along in its insular cocoon, it becomes increasingly detached from reality. An isolated pool of intellectual inbreeding that spawns all manner of malformed ideas. I shudder to think what book some of these folks would write…But maybe someone has something worth bringing into public discourse.
Hi LeAnn great to see your comment and to hear from an Amherst grad. Whatever your book topic is, I hope that you pursue it and grown from working on it. I not writing a book right now, but “upgrading” my ability to help other benefit from Feldenkrais by integrating Mindfulness and Ericksonian focusing strategies. It can cause me a bit of anxiety, but the process has been quite mind and body expanding. I hope yours does the same!
Hi Mac. I briefly pursued the idea of starting a forum about 6 or 7 years ago. Your comments are spot on. The community is too small. A related matter is that the conversations tend to fly all over hell and back and (the big one) I simple do not enjoy the process enough to manage a forum (little financial or emotional payback).
There are a lot of Feldenkrais folks out there who can write a high-quality book and who are also highly skilled and very intelligent. But they largely do not take part in the FeldyForum nor other online groups. They are too busy doing their work. Kind of like you and I….we touch base with FF and then end up walking away for large periods of time. And there a people that are good that simply will not take part in the politics of the Guild or they reach a certain level and then stop. For example, I know several great assistant trainers who are as skilled, if not more, than virtually any trainer. But they are not willing to do the pay the high-price of becoming a “trainer.”
Anyway, just my highly subjective opinion.
Good to connect.
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