"Is this a new approach to massage therapy?" a therapist asked me at one of our trainings. "No, not at all," I replied. "Then why does it feel so different?" she asked. At her response, I was lost in thought about the deep insights her question revealed. There are many times when I am about to teach or present somewhere where I wonder about how it will be perceived. At a glance, there is very little radically new about Precision Neuromuscular Therapy. When I teach, I often emphasize the origins of the approach we are using, be it in our own field, or others. Nothing comes out of the blue- there is a foundational base for everything. What makes PNMT valuable is taking so many influences and foundations and blending them into a coherent approach. Our emphasis on knowledge of anatomy is deep, but anatomical understanding knowledge is readily available to those who seek it. Far beyond simple anatomy is how things work in process, a far more challenging subject. True, we emphasize excellent palpation skills, but again, therapists who question and develop their skills can develop their abilities. Yet, palpation isn't very helpful unless what you feel has meaning and directs future actions. So why is it that Precision Neuromuscular Therapy feels new to therapists, even those who have been practicing for several years, even decades? PNMT is not a radical departure from the skill sets most therapists already possess. Rather, it is a way of rethinking and reframing much of what you already know into a coherent whole and sharper focus. This is the way of all skill development- a process of refinement and deeper understanding. One starts with bigger general concepts and then begins the journey of never-ending learning. In golf, the goal is to strike the ball effectively and put it in the hole. No one doesn't understand that, but actually doing it with precision will take a lifetime of practice. As another example, years ago, I had the opportunity to walk in the woods with a master tracker. I looked at the surrounding forest and commented how beautiful and peaceful it was. My very superficial perception changed as he began to point out to me the deeper reality of all that I had missed. One by one, he pointed out to me details of what I looked at, but did not "see". A broken twig here, grass bent there, a partially eaten food source over there. I looked, he actually saw. Perhaps the most important part of "seeing" is to understand the deeper meaning, the context of the information. I didn't notice these details because they did not have any meaning to me. That's what we teach people- not only to notice, but to understand the context of the information in an effort to create a whole picture. From that understanding, we create treatment approaches.
One important point here- if I had visited that forest many times, my understanding would not necessarily increase. In fact, I would likely have actually "seen" less because of my increased familiarity with the surroundings. The parallel here is that just the practice of treating many clients won't necessarily result in a deeper understanding and an improvement of skills. Doing something a lot doesn’t make you better. If this were actually true, I know a lot of golfers who should be really great by now. They are not because they typically keep doing the same thing, getting the same result. It takes guidance and reflective practice to improve. Every professional, be it athletics or music performance, has a coach. In the end, I feel that is perhaps the best aspect of Precision Neuromuscular Therapy training. Our trainings validate what you already know and clarify areas where your knowledge base could be deeper. You cannot improve unless you know what skills to work on. Our training doesn't end at the seminar site. With access to the PNMT Portal and now the offering of mentoring sessions for PNMT Portal participants, we invite therapists to join us on the learning journey. It is a life-long process of endless discovery and fulfillment.