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Resources: F.A.Q.s

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a natural form of healing (natural medicine) that restores function in the body by treating the structural causes of pain and imbalance.

Osteopathy is a safe and effective approach to health care which works in combination with the individuals own homeostatic mechanisms to help restore homeostasis and optimal health.  It understands the relationship between structure and function within the body and that all aspects of the body must work together to maintain health.

In practice an osteopathic practitioner will assess the whole body as a unit and not just the area that is causing symptoms. For example if you may complain of knee pain, the osteopathic practitioner will assess the function of the knee but also look for any compensations within the body that are a result or a cause of any dysfunction in the knee.

Once the osteopathic practitioner has assessed the whole body they will use a combination of techniques such as joint articulation, myofascial release, visceral and cranial, as appropriate for each individual. The result is that the knee will have less stress placed upon it, allowing for healing and a decrease in pain, while also improving the functional biomechanics throughout the body which may improve that difficult digestion and decrease those headaches that seemed to have nothing to do with the knee pain.

The osteopathic practitioner relies on refined palpation to assess the position, mobility and quality of all tissues in the body. This means that bones, as well as fascia, muscle, organs and the nervous system may be treated osteopathically.

Osteopathy aims to restore movement of blood and lymph. Osteopathy offers a broad range of modalities, including osteo-articular, oscillatory and cranial techniques, strain-counterstrain (positional release), muscle energy, visceral, etc.

Osteopathy is a natural medicine insofar as nothing is added (drugs) and nothing is taken away (surgery). The osteopathic philosophy embraces the notion that the body is naturally able to heal itself. The practitioner of Traditional Osteopathy works with the body to enhance this natural ability to self-regulate and self-heal.


How Does Osteopathy Work?

Osteopathic manual therapy restores function by treating the causes of pain and imbalance.

The osteopathic practitioner relies on palpation to assess the position, mobility and quality of all tissues in the body. This means that bones, as well as fascia, muscle, organs and the nervous system may be treated osteopathically. If it is in the body, the osteopathic practitioner can work with it!

Osteopathic philosophy embraces the belief that the body has an inherent capacity to heal itself. Over time, however, the body becomes less resilient as this ability to efficiently self-regulate diminishes. Some of this loss may be due to the aging process, to the prolonged influence of gravity on posture, or to trauma, accident, illness, surgical scarring, childbirth, repetitive activity, or the cumulative effects of stress. The practitioner of traditional osteopathy works with the body to enhance its inherent capacity to self-regulate and self-heal.

Osteopathic treatment is appropriate for many conditions including pain, chronic illness, concussion, and anxiety. Osteopathy and massage therapy are complementary therapies, working together to enhance your health.

What is the difference between an Osteopathic Practitioner and an Osteopath?

The training of osteopaths (called Osteopathic Practitioners within BC) and osteopathic physicians have the same origin - in the work of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, MD.

From early in the 20th century, however, these two fields were evolving differently. As the name indicates, osteopathic physicians are medical doctors. As such, they are trained to prescribe drugs, perform surgery, deliver babies, and to have the prerequisites to specialize in other branches of medicine. Osteopathic physicians are almost exclusively trained in the USA.  Osteopaths (or Osteopathic Practitioners within BC) are not MDs, they are not trained in allopathic medicine but purely osteopathic manual treatment. Osteopaths are trained in many countries, all over the world.

Worldwide osteopaths (or Osteopathic Practitioners within BC) have a very comprehensive practical training in what has come to be known as Osteopathic Manual Therapy. It is this manual practice or manipulation which was most distinctive about the founder of osteopathy (Dr. Still) methods, and it is the wide range of manual practice approaches that evolved from Still's principles which forms the core of Osteopathy. In fact, the manual practice of osteopathy has hugely influenced all of the physical therapy approaches - from chiropractic through massage and physiotherapy, to rolfing, cranio-sacral therapy, sports medicine and zero balancing.

Both streams of osteopathy are recognized by the Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) which represents 75,000 osteopathic practitioners and osteopathic physicians from more than 20 different countries worldwide.

Why do you now call yourselves Osteopathic Practitioners instead of Osteopaths?

The Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) recognizes internationally that there are two streams of osteopathic practice.  Osteopathy practised by osteopaths, and osteopathic medicine practised by osteopathic physicians.

The majority of countries in the world and the majority of osteopaths in Canada use these internationally accepted titles and definitions. Unfortunately, British Columbia is out of step with these standards and the titles “Osteopath” and “Osteopathic Physician” are currently reserved for osteopathic physicians here.

Members of the SPMPO therefore use the title ‘Osteopathic Practitioner” in British Columbia to make it very clear that we are not physicians and to conform with the law.

We regret any public confusion which may be caused by not following international standards, but this is beyond our control.

Is treatment covered by MSP or extended benefits?

Treatment with an osteopathic practitioner is not covered by MSP as we are not physicians; however, more and more extended benefits companies will now cover osteopathy so please check with your company for the specifics of your plan.


What is Somatic Experiencing?

Somatic Experiencing® (SE) psychobiological trauma resolution is a potent method for resolving trauma symptoms and relieving chronic stress. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine, resulting from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.

The SE approach offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. It provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, first response, education, and others.

Trauma and the Science Behind the SE Approach

Trauma may begin as acute stress from a perceived life-threat or as the end product of cumulative stress. Both types of stress can seriously impair a person’s ability to function with resilience and ease. Trauma may result from a wide variety of stressors such as accidents, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, birth trauma, or the corrosive stressors of ongoing fear and conflict. The SE approach teaches that trauma is not caused by the event itself, but rather develops through the failure of the body, psyche, and nervous system to process adverse events.

In his studies, Dr. Levine found that prey animals in the wild are rarely traumatized despite routine threats to their lives. Yet human beings are readily traumatized. Since humans and other animals possess nearly identical brain- and body-based survival mechanisms, Dr. Levine worked to identify what was interfering with the human threat-recovery process, and to develop tools for restoring people’s innate capacity to rebound following overwhelming experiences.

All mammals automatically regulate survival responses from the primitive, non-verbal brain, mediated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Under threat, massive amounts of energy are mobilized in readiness for self-defence via the fight, flight, and freeze responses. Once safe, animals spontaneously “discharge” this excess energy through involuntary movements including shaking, trembling, and deep spontaneous breaths. This discharge process resets the ANS, restoring equilibrium.

Although humans are similarly designed to rebound from high-intensity survival states, we also have the problematic ability to neo-cortically override the natural discharge of excess survival energy. Through rationalizations, judgments, shame, enculturation, and fear of our bodily sensations, we may disrupt our innate capacity to self-regulate, functionally “recycling” disabling terror and helplessness. When the nervous system does not reset after an overwhelming experience, sleep, cardiac, digestion, respiration, and immune system function can be seriously disturbed. Unresolved physiological distress can also lead to an array of other physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioural symptoms.

How the SE Approach Works

The SE Approach facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This is approached by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions. SE trauma resolution does not require the traumatized person to re-tell or re-live the traumatic event. Instead, it offers the opportunity to engage, complete, and resolve—in a slow and supported way—the body’s instinctual fight, flight and freeze responses. Individuals locked in anxiety or rage then relax into a growing sense of peace and safety. Those stuck in depression gradually find their feelings of hopelessness and numbness transformed into empowerment, triumph, and mastery. SE trauma resolution catalyzes corrective bodily experiences that contradict those of fear and helplessness. This resets the nervous system, restores inner balance, enhances resilience to stress, and increases people’s vitality, equanimity, and capacity to actively engage in life.