What Can Go Wrong with Alexander Technique Lessons?
The Alexander Technique is at heart a teaching process and so, as with any other educational method, successful learning depends on the teacher’s skill and on the student’s interest, willingness and ability to apply him or her self to the project. Additionally, because the Technique has a very different – much simpler and direct – approach to posture and movement than most people are used to thinking about, some students may reject it out of hand before giving it a fair trial. One senior Alexander teacher remarked that the Technique is so simple that new students may not take it seriously.
Learning to be a Teacher
Alexander Technique teachers come from a variety of backgrounds, most of which did not involve teaching. Until fairly recently, most teacher training courses did not actually emphasize general teaching skills, but rather concentrated instead on technical proficiency. As a result, a few students have been put off by a teacher’s inability to communicate effectively. This is is not, however, a widespread problem.
A Willingness to Change
A more important reason things can go wrong it that some people who come for lessons – particularly those who are seeking relief from pain – are not really interested in learning how to make changes in their habitual behavior. They may want to be changed, but they are not willing to take the time or effort to learn how to take control over their own lives and make the change they desire. They would prefer to have someone “fix” them.
This problem also can happen when a student has been told by someone that lessons in the Alexander Technique would help them with the particular health challenge they are facing. Often they are so used to seeing therapists of various kinds that they expect an Alexander teacher to be another - perhaps unusual - kind of therapist and so expect they are coming for a treatment, not a lesson.
Even with the best of intentions, and a good understanding of the Technique, it can be very difficult for someone in severe pain to learn anything, especially a process that calls for a new way of thinking about, and directing, themselves. Sometimes people in that situation are best advised to use approaches that do not require much thought and attention on their part such as massage, chiropractic or acupuncture before addressing their underlying mis-use patterns (see Key Alexander Technique Concepts) with Alexander lessons.
Being Mature Enough to Learn
Problems can easily arise when parents sign their children up for lessons, particularly when the purpose is to improve their posture. All too often, these children arrive for lessons in a resentful frame of mind, sometimes very angry from a history of being told their posture is bad and needs to be improved. Very little, if any, constructive learning can take place when this happens. (This contrasts sharply what usually happens when children actually want to learn the Technique, often because of a desire to improve a specific skill such as playing a musical instrument, or pitching a baseball. Children who are motivated can usually learn the Technique much faster than adults, primarily because the harmful habits of posture and movement they have learned are not as deeply embedded.)
Accepting a New You
Students may stop taking lessons because of the unfamiliar kinesthetic sensations that accompany changes in they way they function. This can tie in with self-image issues. For example, someone who habitually slouches may feel like they are standing “too tall”, or “taking up too much space” after a few lessons when, in fact, they have simply released some of the downward pulls they had been unconsciously creating for many years.