Jin Shin Jyutsu in the Clinic: Larger than Life, Part 1

Melinda Buckwalter  of Commington, Massachusetts, writes “Jin Shin Jyutsu in the Clinic: Larger than Life” in The Main Central Jin Shin Jyutsu Newsletter, issue Number 44, Spring, 2004:

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I encountered Jin Shin Jyutsu and knew right away that I wanted to study and practice it. Later I went to massage school because my state had rules about touching professionally. Mainly massage school gave me a forum to discuss issues regarding bodywork, from how to make clients comfortable on a table to how to take care of myself. My first job was working in a physical therapy office. These were wonderful therapists who incorporated craniosacral therapy, process acupressure and applied kinesiology into their practice of physical therapy. They were jealous of my massage license!

They felt that their field had been taken over by protocols imposed by the insurance companies. Doctors were required to write specific prescriptions for the patients in order to be treated by the physical therapists. The physical therapists were not allowed to treat anything else even if it was clearly affecting the prescribed area. They were given strict time limits under which to treat: 15 to 20 minutes for 10 to 12 visits. The physical therapists longed for the freedom of the massage license. Massage therapists are expected to work the whole body even if just the back is sore, or even if there is nothing wrong – simply for relaxation and as often as the client wants.

Now, however, massage therapists are looking for acceptance by the medical profession, which includes being covered by insurance companies. Prescriptions by doctors of specific areas to be exclusively worked and all the accompanying encumbrances that limit the physical therapy professional come along with that recognition.

Massage therapy as a holistic practice is being reduced to a medical massage practice (maybe it should be called an insurance massage practice) that can be quantified, coded and fit into the clinical setting. In giving up the freedom of a more expansive definition of their profession for a more clinical one, massage therapists are voluntarily limiting what was of therapeutic value in massage in the first place – that agenda-less space for the body to acknowledge its condition. Massage therapists who hope to retain a holistic practice are raising awareness in the profession by speaking out about what we win and lose by fitting into the medical model as defined by the insurance companies. Is there a way to gain acceptance without throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioners experience a similar situation when we work in clinical settings with therapists of other modalities or even when we are just setting ourselves up in a “practice”; an office with clients, a schedule and receipt of money for sessions. To distinguish themselves, many healing modalities are invested in defining their scope of practice, a term the state uses to license and regulate what hands-on professionals are allowed to do. What do we gain or lose when we as Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioners fit into this dynamic?

One of the things that I love about Jin Shin Jyutsu is that shell shock that you experience after your first seminar or indeed any seminar. I knew I had run into something that was bigger than myself, so much bigger that I was in a state of awe and confusion. I couldn’t get Jin Shin Jyutsu to fit into any pattern that I had previously encountered in my schooling or living experience. I have since realized this sense of shock and surprise especially in people who were Mary’s students. They took the brunt of this shock for us and have in their own ways made the material easier to digest as they pass Jin Shin Jyutsu on to us, but there is a potency to their initial exposure to Jin Shin Jyutsu that is in some ways still very raw. I have the good fortune of being a friend of Margery Johnston who attended some of Mary’s early classes. That sense of shock and surprise is still very alive in her these many years later. Although I think she has been successful at taming her initial confusion, I am glad that that early shock of encounter still lives in her. It is a reminder that Jin Shin Jyutsu is something more wonderful, awesome and magical than we can imagine.

To be continued…

All issues of The Main Central Jin Shin Jyutsu Newsletter are available at http://www.jsjinc.net.

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