The Alexander Technique

Medical Matters

Is the Alexander Technique a therapy?

There's no doubt that the effect of re-educating your senses and using your body better will ultimately have theraputic benefits. In fact, a recent, widely reported NHS-sposored study has proved the long term benefits of AT in treating chronic and recurring lower back pain.

But AT is therapy of a different kind to what you may be used to. What I mean is that you don't come for a treatment — instead, you come for a lesson. You learn a new way of being and how to apply that learning to your everyday activities. Your learning continues when you leave the lesson.

Is AT "alternative" healthcare?

No. It's just different to "regular" healthcare as practised in the West. It is based on sound, scientific principles and does not require you to "believe" in it! AT teachers are required to undertake 3 years full-time education to gain a STAT-approved professional qualification and include medically qualified doctors and consultants.

We live in a world that's become obsessed with the idea that medical science has a name for every ache and pain we suffer and that there's a tablet, potion or lotion that will cure us. There's no doubt that correctly prescribed medicines make you better if you are suffering from infection, inflamation or chemical inbalances in the body. However, the majority of patients who visit their doctor are suffering merely with the symptoms of the stresses and strains of life! The palliative remedies that are prescribed in these cases don't necessarily deal with the underlying cause of the problem.

AT brings a new perspective to healthcare. It teaches you how to use your body better. FM Alexander observed that bodily functions are affected by the way the body is used — just as a machine would function better when used properly. A body that's functioning better will inevitably be healthier.

Which medical conditions can AT benefit?

These are some of the problems that AT can help with. The list is not exhaustive!

  • asthma and breathing difficulties
  • chronic back or neck pain
  • high blood pressure
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • postural problems
  • repetitive strain injuries and "frozen shoulder"
  • recurring headaches
  • sciatica
  • stress and anxiety
  • temporo-mandibular joint (jaw) dysfunction

Sources of funding for AT

Prescribing AT in NHS general practice
A General Practitioner may obtain funding for the Alexander Technique at the discretion of the local Primary Care Group. She/he may also apply to the Local Medical Committee's Health Promotion Committee for funding to run an AT Health Promotion Clinic.
Note: In these cases, lessons must be given in the GP's surgery not at the Alexander teacher's premises.

Private Medical Insurance
Some of the major private medical insurance companies accept claims for Alexander lessons where these have been recommended by a medically qualified specialist (i.e. a Consultant) as part of his/her plan of management for that patient. Some do so on a GP's recommendation.

Performing Artists
The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine endorses the value of the Technique in the management of performers' medical problems. Leading specialists in the field routinely refer their patients for Alexander lessons in a wide variety of disorders.

Supporters of AT Research
The Parkinson's Disease Society has funded research into the Alexander Technique, as has The Foundation for Integrated Medicine. The Migraine Trust, The Dyspraxia Trust, The Marfan Association UK, The Scoliosis Association (UK), and many other patients' self-help groups acknowledge the value of the Technique.