True Physiotherapy – Part One

 by Kate Greenaway-Twist, Goonellabah NSW

I have been working in Physiotherapy for over 30 years. I graduated from Sydney University in 1984 and worked in teaching hospitals for the next 2 years. For the following 6 years I worked in private practice, learning as much as I could from more experienced physios, but I found there was a hardness to the way physiotherapy was practised and so I went overseas in search of a more gentle way to treat the whole body.

In Boston, USA, I did courses introducing me to the importance of the connective tissue in the body. I experimented with more gentle ways of releasing this tissue for my many clients that had complex chronic spinal pain.

I came back to Australia in 1997 and moved to the Northern Rivers region of NSW, working in Community Health for 4 years full time and then 4 years part time. I treated the full range of ages and conditions, from babies to the elderly. Since 2002 I have been self-employed, working in a wonderful complementary healing clinic called Universal Medicine in Goonellabah and for 2 years until December 2016 I also worked in a family medical practice nearby. Over the years, I have undergone such a transformation in myself and my work that the way I am with patients, and how I approach my treatments with them now is a world away from even 15 years ago.

It has often been suggested to me by patients and other physios that – ‘you need to write about the work you are doing, share it with other practitioners, physios and people who are used to the old style of physio – and it has dawned on me that how I live, how I work, how I support my patients physically, emotionally and energetically is what I would call True Physiotherapy, which has inspired this article.

Almost all the physios I have met from when I graduated to now – have all had a genuine care for people, and they are very skilled at observing movement and analysing where the body is moving or performing in a dysfunctional way. The fundamental approach of standard physiotherapy is to problem-solve and implement methods of treatment that correct the dysfunctional joint movement, or excess muscle/soft tissue tension. All with the goal of decreasing pain and improving function.

There are 2 main problems with this approach:

  1. Having a treatment driven by a goal that the practitioner wants the body to achieve is imposing. It does not allow for the body’s natural healing processes to take place. I remember feeling it just wasn’t helping the body heal by pushing on joints to get them to loosen up or getting my patient to push their leg or arm against my arm and then stretch their limb forcefully for more joint movement and muscle length.
  2. The way physios are educated and practically trained is to focus on the one main area of physical dysfunction and symptoms. It is not about considering the body as a whole, and certainly doesn’t take into account the emotional status or energetic vitality of the person.

As a result, physios mostly look at the body with a very narrow focus – this reductionist approach may help an acute condition of one joint or body part and a few muscles, but it does not truly support the many patients who have chronic complex physical and emotional problems. As a young physio when I worked in this way I was always uneasy, as I knew this way was a) not considering big parts of the picture that made up the whole story for the patient and b) treating them in this narrow way was imposing on the body; it was me saying, I know how you should be and move, and this is the technique I will use to fix you’. Essentially, I realised this came with a force – even though I thought I was doing the ‘right’ thing. Many patients say to me now that they are often more sore for days or weeks after they have had standard physiotherapy treatment than they were before.

What was making me uneasy in treating in this standard way, was that it was not taking into account the bodys ability to heal itself.

The body has a remarkable intelligence to continually heal and bring itself to a greater level of balance and harmony. This includes everything in the body – the organ systems, nervous system and the movement system the musculoskeletal system.

Understanding the body in this way opened me up to consider the person in a truly holistic way – as a physical being, an emotional being and an energetic being. When I was a young physio, I was not trained in understanding how emotional stresses or poor vitality affected the body, leading to organ dysfunction and physical dysfunction. All I was focused on was what was the physical problem and how do I fix it. Now I consider all these factors and help support the person to understand the deeper disharmony in their body that eventually causes the physical problem. I gently assist the body to enhance its natural healing process and support the person to reconnect to their natural quality of gentleness.


Read more:

  1. True Physiotherapy – part 2.
  2. Holistic Physiotherapy – Patient Testimonials. 

181 thoughts on “True Physiotherapy – Part One

  1. It is so important to share with other colleagues our understandings of how the quality of living and our approach to our work makes such a difference.

  2. The two problem points you mention are very true.
    As a massage therapist I experienced the same.
    Since my study was holistic I learned to give the body space to move its way. But I always knew something was not right. People felt emotion when I massaged them but iT didn’t feel truly healing. When I started to study with Universal Medicine I started to understand the difference. i learned there to truly love me And my body and re connected with my inner heart. Since then if I give an esoteric massage people have true space a holding of love in which blockages clear out of the body to never come back again. True healing occurs. The quality the practitioner is Living in makes all the difference. Having had sessions from Kate I Can confirm she gives profound sessions And deeply support the body to get back in its natural balance And supports to become aware And release if client is ready for it.

  3. What an amazing turning around you have chosen Kate to become dedicated to connecting to the more of what is going on in our bodies than just the functionality of it. How you are supporting people to connect deeper to the circumstances and that being the end result but going much much deeper than this and presenting we are not just physical beings but we are also energetic beings as well.

  4. I can relate to what you are saying Kate, as I also have been a client of yours for quite a while. The fact that you consider my whole way of living, my emotional and energetic state as well makes what you do such a different approach to the symptoms which are there are in my body. You present a loving all emcompassing approach, while indeed normal physiotherapy is only function based.

  5. Having had a session with you Kate – I can see how you have put this into practice – which is amazing. It really is incredible to see how you can allow the body to do it’s thing and totally surrender to the fact that body work is not about trying to fix something but more as a support.

    1. So true HM! Kate does put this into practise and it is an absolute delight to go to a session with her. The body loves it. Better than a holiday, these session assist to retire the natural delicious harmony to the body and untangle the knots that we have, many time, unconsciously, tied them in.

  6. The changes in how you support your clients are truly remarkable. And noteworthy that you notice “how I live, how I work, how I support my patients physically, emotionally and energetically is what I would call True Physiotherapy”. So often we reduce the service we offer to the techniques and actions we were trained in, yet what people get is absolutely everything we bring to the table. The fact that the level of quality and care with which we live may not be on our business card, does not take away the fact that we are reflecting it 24/7 and the other person can at a very deep level feel it.

  7. The decency and respect that I know you offer in your treatment room is second to none and you have a true purpose to bring what ever is needed for your clients. Kate your working commitment and dedication is shown in your every present way of living, it is always full of joy and the pleasure in your life and sessions is outstanding, for you it is one life.

  8. Yes Kate it would be amazing if you did training in this way as it would really start to change, slowly but surely the way physios interact with their patients and how connecting on this deeper level actually supports a deeper healing. This is very much needed and a blessing for the industry.

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