Continuous Professional Development

The Alexander Technique is first and foremost a practical technique.

When we apply the Alexander Technique to our lives, we do so on a day by day basis. In this sense, its application lends itself to being continuous, and is in essence concerned with our individual development.

PAAT teachers meet regularly to work at their Alexander Technique practice and share insights and reflections. We do so to develop our own understanding and practice of the Technique, and the skills and experience we gain informs what we pass on to pupils and students in our teaching rooms and on our courses. As members of the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council, we are committed to continuous professional development as a means of improving the quality of our teaching provision over time.

Here you will find accounts of our professional work sessions, including details of themes and issues we consider to be important as we take our teaching practice forward into the 2020s.

Our current areas of interest relate primarily to the importance of consistency of inhibition and direction, and we seek also to investigate individualising the work with the hands.

Virtual Meeting, November 28th 2020

An online CPD session was held on Saturday 28 November 2020. This continued our theme of Consistency in Applying the Alexander Technique; developing our Sensory Appreciation.

The introduction to the session invited the group to continually be aware of all sensory information that we have access to including the immediate environment around us, not just the five senses. In particular our reactivity – what thoughts and attitudes come up in situations we might be in.

The first part of the practical session concerned the question – can we use Zoom to become more human?

The group explored the use of visual expression and how to engage with people when speaking online which could be more difficult than when physically together. Practical things like how we appear on screen including colour of clothing and the background environment in the room were also discussed.

In the second part of the session the group looked at the wearing of face coverings/masks and how this can make interpreting visual and verbal information difficult. Practical work followed exploring our reaction to them when wearing them ourselves and when meeting others.

This was a very useful CPD session with the aim of cultivating  a genuine, open and outward looking online presence with an atmosphere of trust between pupil and teacher.

Virtual Meeting, October 31st 2020

This CPD session held on 31st October 2020 used the everyday activity of opening doors as a means of exploring use, exploring in particular how the hands and arms can best be directed to avoid unnecessary stresses on the structures involved.

The session also considered wider questions around what attitudes and preconceptions (eg rushing, expectation) we might bring to this activity in daily life and noting how this informs our initial set up.  As always any specific focus was looked at with reference to the use of the self as a whole.

Valuable insight emerged from the practical work and from discussion in “breakout” rooms as well as in the wider group.

Virtual Meeting, October 17th 2020

An online CPD session was held on Saturday 17th October 2020, continuing our theme of Consistency in Applying the Alexander Technique.

The session started with working on set-up in standing. This was followed by a practical exploration of letting the knees go which was then incorporated into a sequence of movements to music.

The morning concluded with a discussion on how we had been working on specific daily activities over the last few months of restrictions in our lives. There was a particular emphasis on attitudes and choices in how we move forward with our lives and the potential for transformation by applying the Alexander Technique.

Virtual Meeting, July 25th 2020

Our final CPD event of the academic year was held on 25th July 2020.

The session introduced a number of biomechanical principles which then informed a practical exploration of the factors influencing the quality of teachers’ use of the hands.

This work involved a detailed look at a number of aspects of use including the underlying attitude in our use of the hands, in relation to a range of everyday tools and objects, and whether any habitual pre-determining of hand shape may be restricting the fullest range of hand movement.

Virtual Meeting, June 13th 2020

A CPD session was held online on 13th June 2020.

In the first session, work centred on giving detailed guided attention to aspects of use including a particular focus on the facial area, all in the context of what could be done in a virtual lesson. This work was enriched by an exploration of research on the subject of facial expression and emotion.

The second session continued guided, hand-free, practical work on investigating the ideal set up in standing when working with tools. This work focused on specific research but bringing in considerations of mechanical advantage and of how we best engage ourselves in the activity.

The morning ended with a group discussion around application of the Technique to teeth cleaning, and how that could be taught virtually, following on the theme of application of principles of good use in routine daily activities.

Virtual Meeting, May 30th 2020

An online CPD session was held on 30th May 2020 continuing the theme of Consistency in applying the Alexander Technique.

The session started with a quiet Sitting session followed by exploration of participants own use in sitting, then standing. The group then moved into some guided practical work continuing work from the last meeting on investigating the ideal set up in standing when using tools.

The second part of our CPD sessions have involved looking at daily practical activities in lockdown that could be used for online teaching. This week looked at teeth cleaning.

The session finished with practical work on use of the hands.

Virtual Meeting, May 16th 2020

Continuing with the theme of Consistency in applying the Alexander Technique and developing Sensory Appreciation, an online CPD session was held on Saturday 16th May.

The session started with a Sitting practice and then practical work by participants exploring the process of their use in moving from sitting to standing.

There was then a talk reflecting on the content from the previous session followed by an opportunity for participants to feedback in small groups on their personal practice at home.

This was followed by a talk with Powerpoint on Berstein’s work on Biomechanics. This included standing to work at a workbench and the position of mechanical advantage for standing.

Feedback from participants each week is very positive. We have been learning so much from each other in these regular online sessions.

Virtual Meeting, May 2nd 2020

An online CPD session was held on Saturday 2nd May, continuing with the theme of Consistency in applying the Alexander Technique and of developing our Sensory Appreciation.

The session began with participants giving detailed attention to their use through guided sitting and going from sitting to standing.  There was then a focus on giving attention to the standing setup in three stages: just noticing, guided noticing, and making adjustments to promote improved use in standing.

The next part of the session offered the opportunity for feedback and discussion in small groups on the experience of daily practice, specifically relating to using the hands to develop one’s own sensory appreciation and use.

This was followed by summaries of some research on mechanical stress related to posture and balance which was then discussed in small groups.

The final part of the session focused on the poise of the head, with participants benefitting from each other’s feedback.

The session was very well attended and the work and discussions were again lively and productive, with varied and engaging content which gave participants a valuable opportunity to work together for their personal development as well and for the benefit of PAAT.

Virtual Meeting, April 18th 2020

Our second online CPD session was held on Sat 18th April continuing the theme of: Consistency in applying the Alexander Technique and the development of sensory appreciation.

The group explored these themes across a range of activities including working at holding and using mobile phones, the nature of transitions between postures, and the application of the Alexander Technique to walking from the point of view of taking daily exercise in this time of lockdown. All the activities included practical work and reference to the anatomy of hand, forearm and shoulder.

Once more the session proved to be extremely helpful in allowing participants to work on their use of themselves and also to give virtual support to each other in our practice of the Technique at a time when we, of necessity, are unable to meet up in person for our usual CPD.

Virtual Meeting, April 2nd 2020

Our first online CPD session was held on Sat 2nd April. The theme was Consistency in applying the Alexander Technique and the development of sensory appreciation.

The initial focus of the session was on individuals working as a group to bring attention to their use in sitting, with the support of expert guidance.  Participants then explored the act of rising to standing before moving onto small movements of the ankles, knees and hips in standing.

The second part of the session involved the group looking in detail at use of the hands in an everyday activity (washing and drying) and included an engaging review of the relevant anatomy and of the potential issues surrounding use of the hands.

Both series of activities were followed by feedback sessions where insights were shared. Colleagues mentioned some of the situations which they were considering while working from/staying at home such as teaching the piano online, working at a computer. Discussion also included the importance of starting each day by working on ourselves and having a structure/timetable for the day.

Birmingham, December 2019

A two-hour work session was held in Birmingham on 14th December 2019 as part of the PAAT CPD programme, followed by a Christmas meal at Winterbourne House.

alexander technique continuous professional development work session December 2019
alexander technique continuous professional development Chriasmas meal December 2019

Shallowford, November 2019

PAAT held a CPD weekend at Shallowford House in Staffordshire in November. The event was well attended, and there was a range of input and activities, all focussed around developing the use of the hands in teaching.

There was also time to socialise and enjoy the peaceful grounds at Shallowford.

alexander technique continuous professional development flat hands in monkey

PAAT Alexander Technique CPD