What’s in a Name?

I’m abandoning my politics for a moment to have a little rant about something else: modality names.

Rolfing, Feldenkrais, and Trager, for example, are what I would describe as old classics. They’ve been around for many decades, and came about when bodywork and/or movement therapies were still in their infancy, at least in the Western world.

I’ve seen a trend recently, though, that I have to confess bothers me, and that’s the plethora of people naming techniques after themselves.

Last week, I made a post on one of my networks that I was looking for instructors for next year’s lineup of continuing education. I was a little bit shocked that half of the respondents sent me proposals for modalities that they have named after themselves. I’m going to be nice and not name any of these people, or their modalities. I must confess, though, that my first thought whenever I hear about a “new” modality that someone has named after him or herself, is usually that they’re being pretty presumptuous to think that they have actually invented something new, or that they’re on an ego trip.

A rather uppity young man who needed taking down a few notches told my chiropractor the other day that he had invented the “muscle elongation technique.” The chiropractor laughed out loud and said, “Son, don’t kid yourself, I learned that in chiropractic school in 1984.”

I can think of a number of modalities that are kind of unusual that actually could have excusably been named after their developer, but they aren’t, and even a number of massage therapy instructors who are internationally well known, that have resisted the urge to name their techniques after themselves. Kudos to them.

Everything old is new again, as the saying goes. But when I think back on all the things I learned in massage school and all the CE classes I’ve taken in the years since, I think about the basics…the movements of Swedish massage, the trigger point work, the myofascial release techniques, the joint mobilization modalities, and even the energy work. It is what it is.

In my opinion, we’re all standing on the bodywork path because someone trail-blazed the way for us years ago. I tend to take all those things that I’ve learned over the years and roll them into an eclectic mixture of whatever I’m led to do with a specific client on a specific day. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another.

And don’t hold your breath waiting for “The Laura Allen Method.”  It isn’t on the horizon.

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