“To be receptive to the unexpected, i.e. the creative moment” may sound more like the approach of an artist than that of a physiotherapist, but in my opinion it’s about the fusion of both approaches. In my practice, it is essential to look beyond one’s own profession. It is somewhat complicated to describe my methodology, because I don’t offer standard therapy for people with a similar affliction. Every human being is unique, and, while I draw from my professional expertise and experience in the different treatments, I also use personal impressions as well as those “free and unexpected moments” in which something happens that frees a human being suddenly from his compulsory habits and ingrained patterns.
As a physiotherapist, I treat and help people with a great range of afflictions, both musicians and dancers, as well as those who have complaints relating to their professions as those who do not. Without realizing it, a habitual posture/movement can trigger complaints without seeing the correlation as to where that complaint is coming from. At patients’ requests, I give lessons in movement to groups of people who want to age and develop in an upbeat, quiet and flexible manner.
Early on, I learned to be able to manage the unexpected and be able to think in terms of process when I was trained as a riding instructor of horse riding for the handicapped. You always have to anticipate the surprise movements of a horse and you can only channel the movement if you can observe and follow it. These basic principles of horse riding were so compelling that my interest in kinesiology transferred from horse to human being, which made me want to become a physiotherapist. As a physiotherapist, I first gained experience in hospitals in the Netherlands and Tanzania after which I worked at a medical rehabilitation center (Beatrixoord) and in a private practice for 11 years, where, before I started my own private practice in Groningen, I gained perspective on a different piece of my work, i.e. people who aren’t really ill, but who, due to ailments of their body, were prevented from functioning well. With the Maasai people in Tanzania, I had really learned to look at how people moved. Back in the Netherlands, I became fascinated with a question which friends and musicians asked me with regard to the relationship between the quality of making music and their physical posture/motor skills. That question inspired me to get even more experience. At a time that this wasn’t really done in physiotherapy, I took numerous classes in Dispokinesis Therapy, lessons in music, rhythm and movement at the Conservatories in Groningen and Rotterdam, Kinesiology Rosalia Chladek in Rotterdam and Strassbourg, Eutony with Rosa Spekman in Amsterdam, Bobath/NDT, The School for Rhythmic Massage (in the Netherlands), learning about Eurythmy, Tai Chi, Shiatzu, jazz/classical ballet, the Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, mime and theater.
In my practice, I treated more and more musicians, both professionals and conservatory students as well as amateur musicians. Meeting with musicians, I became very interested in the overlap between the different disciplines. After that, I began working with dancers and actors as well. It became clear to me that there is an essential link between the quality of the performance and the physical posture/motor skills. While the technical aspects of my work are important, just as important is the inner or mental part. In other words, people have to leave old habits behind and that creates confusion and may not feel good. This emotional resistance (the mental part) is normal, yet the art lies in creating a little confusion as that leads clients to discover themselves as to what the possibilities are of moving differently and more efficiently. Meeting artists like graphic designer and photographer Ralph Prins and sculptor Guus Hellegers added a new dimension. I became fascinated with the relationship between the dynamics of the human body and the human body in the fine arts. I used to like drawing and I started doing more of that. I played the piano from when I was 8, and I took some music (recorder/flute and violin) and singing lessons to experience how that felt.
In the beginning of the 1990s, I was asked (due to my experience with players of wind instruments and singers) to treat patients of the Gynecology clinic at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) who were having problems with their pelvic floor. This was an area where there was little experience or expertise in the field, and so I started working with the Gynecology/Sexology/Urology department at UMCG. At the same time, I also collaborated with the Orthopedics/Sports Injuries clinic at UMCG and I worked for the Center of Human Movement Sciences at the University of Groningen as well. As a result, I was invited by several music schools and orchestras to teach my findings as a guest lecturer. In 2010, UMCG founded the Music Outpatient Clinic with a team of different specialists of which I have been the external physiotherapist.
Moving Between Art and Science
My interest in the connections between the different disciplines of art and science progressed and, in 2011, I organized the (first) Symposium entitled “Moving Between Art and Science”. The result was a mutual and very inspiring exchange between physicians, motion experts, musicians, and painters.
All these experiences, meetings, collaborations and exchanges have enhanced and stimulated my profession and made me realize why I have always struggled with the physiotherapeutic term “the movement apparatus”. The human body is no apparatus. Without an integrated perspective on humans you can treat symptoms but you can’t discover underlying causes and cannot guide a human being in rediscovering his own natural balance. Flexibility of vision and ways of looking are part and parcel of a profession that deals with the flexibility of the human body. Certain protocols are undoubtedly useful but it’s also important to free oneself of those if the situation requires that. At the same time, we live in a time in which protocols and measurability play a more or less central role in health care. This has had such an effect that it has become impossible to meet those requirements while also dedicating myself to the essential core of my work as a physiotherapist. Thus I was forced to end my contracts with health care insurers (see also the information under the headline “Fees” and “Reimbursement from the Health Insurer”). On the other hand, it means I can continue to practice as a professional in the way I want to, in an inspired manner and with full attention for my clients.