Physical Therapy: A Mechanical Versus An Intuitive Approach

In December 2009, I had surgery on my wrist. I fell and broke the distal radius on my wrist while walking with my dog on an icy patch of road. A month later, I realized I had a full arm injury, a frozen shoulder, and tendon injuries in my elbow – I injured one of my wings.

/ Photo by Anemone Jones /

I was new to physical therapy and didn’t know who to search for or where to go. I started with a recommendation from a friend.

Here’s a summary of my experience with the first physical therapy group, and then a second summary when I switched to a physical therapist who also is a healer.

1st Group – Mechanical-focused

What I encountered the first time around was a mechanical approach to physical therapy, forcing my arm into positions it wasn’t ready to go in. I would often leave the office feeling worse than when I arrived. I eventually concluded that a different physical therapist with a more gentle approach was needed.

  • Healing philosophy: Let’s get this done motto with a sense of urgency. I was told that I may not regain full range of motion. Fearful.
  • Approach: Exercises were given primarily. Then, manual therapy, often forcing my arm into position beyond my current range of motion. Numerous appointments were recommended.

    Very little hands-on work initially until associate got involved in treatment.

    Recommended a mechanical splint, which holds the arm in position for hours at a time. Why would I want to put my arm in yet another split, which further inhibits movement?

    Suggested that my surgeon may recommend manipulation, a surgery procedure that requires putting me under anesthesia, then pushing my arm into position. I was horrified when I heard this because I knew this would retraumatize the muscles, bones, and tendons of my arm.

    Listen to the words and language used in medical terms. The word ‘manipulation’ implies use of force. The body natural’s response to force is to resist, which impairs the healing process.

  • Energetic and spiritual focus: No emotional, energetic, or spiritual context.
  • Homework exercises: By the book from pre-printed hand-outs.
  • Pain level after appointments: Moderate to high. Felt beat up and worn out; the treatment was too aggressive. Took an average of two to three days to recover.
  • Office environment: Dark parking lot, poorly lit with low ceilings, and a cramped bathroom space.

    The office environment mirrored the type of treatment I would receive. A poorly lit parking area with low ceilings means little inspiration and optimism would be available. The bathrooms seemed more like utility closets than bathrooms; the physical therapy would address basic functionality (utility), but not other healing processes.

2nd Group – Intuitive-focused

I understand some people prefer a physical approach to healing. Since I’m a healer myself, I needed someone to work on me that could access all levels because this is my orientation.

I dropped the first physical therapy group, and started with a new group, one that would address several layers of healing.

  • Healing philosophy: Let’s listen to what the body needs. The body has its own timeline for healing. Use of positive, uplifting language: Nice, Beautiful. Optimistic attitude. Hopeful.
  • Approach: IMT (Integrative Manual Therapy), a method that works with the body three-dimensionally. Body areas are not isolated, body planes/fields are addressed. Suggested only one appointment per week, so the body has time to assimilate each session. Started with the rib cage.

    Physical therapist asks awareness questions like “What were you thinking about when this injury occurred?”

    Awareness of the interconnectedness of the body. I was told that the problem is usually in the next one or two joints from the injury, not where we expected. Courts mystery, explores and investigates all possibilities.

    Gentle stretching, holding two points at once (wrist/shoulder, elbow/wrist, rib cage/shoulder). Teaches body awareness through a gentle approach.

    Very hands-on, often using an intern to assist in holding corresponding points of the body, to help stabilize joints and minimize referred pain during each session.

  • Energetic and spiritual focus: Physical therapist has awareness of light and energy. Also, helps release memories and emotions lodged in muscle tissue.
  • Homework exercises: Created on the spot. Lots of creativity goes into selecting a tailored exercise.
  • Pain level after appointments: Some fatigue and muscle soreness. No pain. Felt like a vigorous work-out with a deep pressure point massage.
  • Office environment: Well-lit, spacious bathroom, and ample outdoor parking.

Five Levels of Healing

When I searched for new avenues in physical therapy, I stumbled upon this chart on the web, which perfectly illustrated what I was looking for in a physical therapist, someone who would address all layers of healing: Physical, Energy, Mental, Intuitive, and Spirit. This Five Levels of Healing chart, developed by Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, M.D., Ph.D., includes a list of modalities that helps access each of these levels to treat the whole person.

This is an excellent model for health care that supports the body, mind, and spirit. Share this with your loved ones, and with medical personnel. It could dramatically change the healing journey for everyone.

There are few people in the medical field who are healers. They are still far too rare. Most are technicians. It takes deeper levels of understanding and training to be a healer. Technicians work primarily on the physical level, and the energetic levels are not taken into account. A healer traverses all levels, using instinct and sensory input, not just clinical training to determine the best course of treatment.

Treat the patient, not the X-ray.
~James M. Hunger

An X-ray is a snapshot of the injury site, not of a whole person. We need methods to recognize and treat the condition of the soul, and nurture the needs of the soul: rest, freedom, love, balance, support, strength. Otherwise, we’re only touching the skin, muscles, and bones of a multi-dimensional (energy-based), dynamic human being.

Scientists say we use less than ten percent of our brain. What percent of our healing resources and modalities are we using in any medical situation? I suspect the numbers are similar. We’ve hardly scratched the surface of what is possible.

One comment on “Physical Therapy: A Mechanical Versus An Intuitive Approach

  1. Christine says:

    Hi Michelle! It’s been a long time. Ah, everything you say is so true. I regret not listening to my intuition in regards to some medical problems and now I’m paying a big price for it. But again, weeding out what’s intuition and what’s fear and what’s impulsivity is sooooo hard. Hope you’re doing much better now:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.