The Technique, Reproduction and the Tale of Two Teachers

This is the story of two Alexander Technique teachers and how they came to start working together in autumn 2017 researching the Alexander Technique in pregnancy.

Lesley’s story

My background is in clinical psychology both as a practitioner and as a researcher and trainer. My clinical psychology practice has always been in the field of physical rather than mental health (if indeed such a distinction can be made). Much of my research has been under the umbrella of reproductive psychology, more recently with a focus on the perinatal period, and both maternal and paternal mental health and wellbeing. I’ve worked for several years now with my co-researcher Julie Jomeen, Professor of Midwifery at the University of Hull.

I discovered the Alexander Technique in 2001 when I had neck and shoulder pain and, as is the story for many Alexander Technique teachers, my pain disappeared and I became hooked. Since discovering the Alexander Technique, I have been on something of a mission to find ways to make the Alexander Technique accessible to more people, in particular to people who would not normally be able to afford it.

About three years ago, Julie Jomeen and I put in a bid for an Alexander Technique and pregnancy project which was not successful; we applied the following year and again did not get the funding. Finally, when I’d given up thinking this would happen, a third submission was successful. The post was advertised and there was a great deal of interest from the Alexander community both from those interested to apply and those who wanted to be involved in some way if possible. We had a strong field of applicants. I think this is a fantastic opportunity to do some long-overdue research into an area where there is an enormous amount of anecdotal evidence that the AT has something unique to offer.

Lesley Glover started her Alexander Technique teacher training with Lena Schibel-Mason at York Alexander Technique School in 2011 and qualified as an Alexander Technique teacher in 2014. She lives in East Yorkshire where she teaches the Alexander Technique and works part-time at the University of Hull. She has a son and two step-children. Member of STAT.

Nicola’s story

In 2015 I participated in the International Alexander Congress in Limerick. A strange and marvellous chain of events began culminating with me being offered a PhD place at the University of Hull to research “Women’s experience of the Alexander Technique in Pregnancy”. During the Congress, I visited Ted Dimon’s Continuous Learning classes on anatomy. I was impressed by his clarity and authenticity while presenting as well as his obviously great knowledge. I later enthused to Lena Schibel whom I have known since the founding of the German Alexander teacher's society in 1984. Lena is originally from Germany and trains teachers in York. Listening carefully, she said, “I think you should meet Lesley Glover” and she introduced me. I learned that Lesley is a clinical psychologist and lecturer at the University of Hull.

I went home deeply inspired by the Congress. Lesley and I linked up via Facebook. Now, I am not a great facebooker but on the 1st February 2017, I happened to scroll down the whole news feed and saw an announcement from Lesley, a link announcing the PhD. Excited, I contacted her immediately asking if I could apply, which she affirmed. I spent February writing a research proposal and personal statement and getting all the necessary documents together which I submitted in March. An interview (via Skype) followed at the end of April and three days later I was offered the place which I am greatly honoured to accept.

So, the moral of this story is, speak loudly to people if someone impresses you, and never underestimate networking, you never know what will happen!

Nicola Hanefeld is English but she lives in Freiburg, Germany. She qualified as an Alexander teacher in 1989 with Yehuda Kupermann and has been teaching ever since. She has a combined Honours degree in Botany and Zoology from Reading University. She is mother of three grown-up children. She is a member of the ATVD e.V., the German Alexander teacher's society and an overseas member of STAT.

Although the research was originally planned on the Technique and pregnancy, when Nicola was about 6 months into her PhD a decision was made to change the emphasis to the potentially challenging phase of the postpartum.

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