Treating My Mentor

I was giving my email one last check before heading to bed last week when I noticed a note from my Osteopath. I’ve been a patient of hers for over fifteen years and it was my experience working with her that inspired me not only to become a RMT but also a Manual Osteopath.


My therapist has the most amazing touch. In Craniosacral Therapy classes I’d describe her as “finger painting on my eyelids.” At times her hands have transported me to places I could never have imagined. For years she’s unearthed my aches and pains and solved the riddles of my body. And, when she wasn’t able to fully restore me, like last summer when I was studying for my comprehensives and had my head downcast in a book for hours on end, she knew when to refer me to someone else, “You probably need a chiropractic adjustment to fix your neck.”


And she was right.


So when she wrote complaining of pain in her low back and asking for an appointment I jumped …and then shuddered slightly… at the thought of treating her. It was an honour to be asked but I knew the bar – my own bar – would be set high.


She’d strained her back a few days before while demonstrating a stretch for one of her patients. Most of the pain had subsided but there was still something lingering.


My treatment leaned heavy on cranial and myofascial techniques. I figured I needed to find some equilibrium in her nervous system before I started working on the source of her pain. The fascial tension around her hip proved interesting; it lead me like a trail of breadcrumbs down the outside of her thigh and into her lower leg. I finished with a Reiki / Shiatsu / Cranial-inspired toehold that, again, was intended to settle the nervous system.


When she got off the table at the end of the hour, like anyone who gets onto the table in pain, she was a little cautious. We had her walk a bit. The pain was mostly gone. She was pleased! I confessed to having been a bit intimidated and refused to take her money. After all the support she’d given me these past few years, it was the least I could do.


The next day she sent me a lovely note letting me know she’d been able to sleep through the night and that her low back now felt great.


Work until your idols become your rivals


I bought this postcard at a little shop in Kreuzberg back in 2018. I’d just finished my second year of Osteopathy school and was in the middle of a desperately-needed month-long break in Berlin. I spotted it from across the street on one of those little wire spinner racks and I’ve kept it on my fridge, along with many other travel mementos, ever since.


Although I see this postcard all the time, today it resonated differently.


I’m not going to lie: treating my therapist and getting some positive feedback was hugely affirming. It felt good to know that my “Inner Physician,” was on the mark. My intention in any treatment is listen and do my absolute best without causing harm. I was proud of myself for playing past the intimidation factor and treating her just as I would have treated anyone who’d come into my clinic.


My therapist and I are not really rivals; rather we compliment each other. We exist at different places on the same continuum both with the capacity, in our own way, to help people. Trust and fit are crucial in the creation of a strong therapeutic relationship. And in this instance, she taught me that mentorship also involves being vulnerable.