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Open Access Research article

United States Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teachers®: a survey of characteristics and practice patterns

Patricia A Buchanan1*, Nicole L Nelsen2 and Simon Geletta3

Author Affiliations

1 Toledo, Ohio 43614, USA

2 St. Anthony Regional Hospital, Carroll, Iowa 51401, USA

3 Master of Public Health Program, Des Moines University, 3200 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50312, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:217  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-217

Published: 2 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Feldenkrais Method® teachers help students improve function and quality of life through verbally and manually guided lessons. The reasons people seek Feldenkrais® lessons are poorly understood. Similarly, little is known about practice characteristics and patterns. To address these knowledge gaps, we conducted an extensive survey of United States Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teachers®.

Methods

We invited all Feldenkrais Teachers to participate in this survey delivered in web-based or print formats. We obtained overall and question-specific response rates, descriptive statistics, chi-square tests of response bias, and performed qualitative thematic review of comments.

Results

Overall response rate was 30.5% (392/1287). Ninety percent of responders had college degrees in diverse fields; 12.5% had credentials outside health care, 36.9% held conventional health care licenses, and 23.1% had complementary and alternative medicine credentials. Mean age was 55.7 years; most teachers were women (83%). California (n = 100) and New York (n = 34) had the most teachers. Forty-five percent of teachers earned ≤ 20% of their gross income from their practices, while 26% earned > 80%. Most saw < 10 students/week for individual lessons and < 10 students/week for group lessons. Students were mostly women (71.1%) and 45–64 years old. The primary reason students sought Feldenkrais lessons was pain. A quarter of students self-referred, a fifth were referred by conventional health care providers, and two-thirds paid for services directly. Themes from comments included: beliefs that Feldenkrais training had important personal and professional benefits for teachers; recognition of the challenges of operating small businesses and succinctly describing the Feldenkrais Method; the variety of practice approaches; and a deep commitment to the Feldenkrais Method.

Conclusions

Most Feldenkrais Teachers were well educated, often held additional credentials, were located in the West, were women, were older than 50 years, and had part-time practices. Most students were women, were adults, came from various referral sources, and paid directly for services. Teachers and students utilized the Feldenkrais Method in diverse settings and applications. These findings may foster practice development by Feldenkrais Teachers, improve communication between health care consumers and providers and assist decision-making, and stimulate more research concerning the Feldenkrais Method.

Keywords:
Feldenkrais Method of somatic education; US Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teachers; Practitioner characteristics; Practice patterns; Communication; Decision-making; Research development