The Use of the Self and Health
The specialized training of the Alexander Technique teacher enables him to detect by touch the psycho-physical habits and the excessive and detrimental postural tensions of the pupil and to help the latter become aware of them before learning to become free of them.
This detection might show the need for a medical diagnosis. The Alexander Technique teacher usually has no medical training nor qualification or experience in giving this medical diagnosis. Sometimes the pupil will be then referred to a doctor before starting work.
The work done in an Alexander session consists primarily of re-education through the control of reactions and movements, in order to improve the functioning of the whole self. This improvement, because of the psycho-physical unity of the human organism, will also bring relief of pain and have other therapeutic benefits.
Since the teacher’s diploma is recognized only by the Alexander Associations of each country, in the case of Belgium by the Aefmat, the re-education sessions are not reimbursed by the medical insurance schemes (mutuelles). Occasionally, certain insurance companies will reimburse the cost of the sessions, conscious of their benefits for the health of their members.
The good health of an individual depends as much on hereditary factors as on lifestyle, as well as in the person’s natural and human environment. In the health of an individual, the ‘conscious control of the use of the self’ advocated by the Alexander Technique is but one aspect, albeit a fundamental one and inextricably linked to the other components of healthy living, such as a good sleep pattern, a good varied diet, physical activity, good personal hygiene, a healthy sex life, a certain emotional stability and the ability to form good personal relationships.
Alexander himself thought that a diagnosis of a patient’s condition remains incomplete if the influence of use upon functioning is not taken into consideration.