Originally published in Specialized Kinesiology Magazine, Winter 2017 Back to Basics issue. Photo credit: Jan Cole, 2016 TFHKA Conference
Growing up with the creator of Touch for Health for a father, the system seems to be in Matthew Thie’s blood. Any conversation with Matthew about kinesiology work eventually makes its way back to the core tenants of self-responsibility and why basic, simple techniques are the best ones; and he has made a career out of travelling the world speaking on this subject and teaching others. And so for this issue, Matthew and I sat down for a long-distance conversation about the basics of kinesiology, what has changed and why it matters.
A: What basic skills make someone a good kinesiologist?
M: Well for me, definitely what links most kinesiologists together is use of muscle testing. So muscle testing is a basic skill, but the most important thing about muscle testing is not that you technically know the exact positions of every single muscle, really, it’s more the attitude and the philosophy of self-responsibility. Even after all these years (where I’ve done quite a bit of muscle testing!), sometimes I will do a muscle test and not be completely sure of the result, and I ask the person, what did they feel? I don’t think everyone in kinesiology comes from the approach, but for me, coming from a Touch for Health background, that’s actually the most important thing. What is your role? Are you in a more assistive role, helping people discover more about themselves and giving them tools to take care of themselves? Or are you in a treatment role?
A: In your opinion, what is the most underrated TFH technique?
M: The 14 muscle balance is probably the most used, most known concept from Touch for Health but it would be the thing I would most emphasize – if it’s all you know, you can do a lot. So it is highly rated and many kinesiology systems integrate the idea of the 14-muscle balance – it’s not underrated – but I still think it is the most important thing we can be doing. Also, reactive muscles are something that people can kind of get hung up on. There’s some reactivity to reactive muscles! So I’ve been creating a little workshop where we take the whole weekend just to look at posture and reactivity again, but have some fun with it. Take the stress off it. Approach it in some very simple, basic ways. And once you have the basic pattern, it actually can be simple and fun.
A: Do you feel TFH is as relevant now as it was in the 70’s? Why?
M: In the 70’s the natural spirit of the time was people wanting to go back to nature and wanting to do things in a more natural way. People wanted to take on the self-responsibility model and have tools for themselves. And it sort of seems that people have shifted back to just wanting medicine to fix them. But you’re missing something when you don’t take part in your own healthcare. The need for simple, lost-cost healthcare tools is greater than ever. Since the 70’s, people are much more aware of the problems of the environment, all the different contaminants that are in our food supply. So there’s a greater need, there’s a greater awareness, but there’s also a greater challenge in people taking it on today because they don’t want to take 20-30 minutes out of their day for self-care. They’re on 30-second sound bytes on their phones… We need to move into this computer age and space and yet, Touch for Health is also about human beings actually getting together and touching each other. Even back in the 70’s part of the purpose of TFH was that people could get together and reclaim the purpose of healthy touching – physical interaction between human beings that’s not only for sex or punishment. It’s a system where we do a lot of touching of each other, but constantly with permission, constantly with safety, and that natural human touch is very needed. But we need to start people with small, quick things because that’s what they are used to!
A:Do you have any interest yourself in studying other modalities? Which ones?
M: For the most part, I’ve stuck with TFH and the basics. When I started going to the conferences, what I found was that lots of people were talking about the new, latest greatest thing. A lot of the time it’s even a “Touch for Health Conference” and people are talking about all kinds of great things but nobody is talking about TFH! I have a space for myself to share for the rest of my life; I’ll just keep talking about TFH. So, in this issue talking about ‘Back to Basics’, that’s kind of been my emphasis. I’ve been going more and more back to basics. The shorter topical workshops that I’ve been teaching are showing basic applications of things we already know, but do we take them seriously? Do we use them as something valuable?
A couple of things that are well worth studying just to have as background that I’ve been looking into lately are all the scientific studies coming out of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). And in EFT, you don’t have to know any muscle testing, you just have to tap the point. They have a lot of double-blind studies showing the effectiveness of what they’re doing, which is something we tend to lack in kinesiology. And it’s such an easy and powerful thing we can give away to people. So I’ve been doing some of their online courses.
A: What’s the biggest change you have seen in your lifetime in the SK world?
M: Initially, the whole SK field (separate from Applied Kinesiology) was just TFH. And so you would take just a weekend class and start seeing clients. And for some people that makes their hair stand on end and for other people that seems completely natural and safe. There has been the development of this non-diagnostic model to stay safe legally and stay true to what you’re doing. But more importantly, when you get more into a holistic, self-responsibility model, you actually empower the individual and get the energy flowing and I believe the outcomes are much better than if you do diagnosis and treatment alone; especially if you’re talking about long-term developing wellness and health. That’s something that has developed bit by bit over the years.
Also, initially it wasn’t really intended to create practitioners! But over the years as it has expanded, there’s become a ready market for people to become practitioners, so now there are 3 and 4 year trainings (in many parts of the world). So the development of this profession is one of the biggest changes and much of the focus in kinesiology has changed to creating practitioners. But TFH is still about giving as much of this to the public as possible.
A: If you could offer people one reason why they should take SK classes, what would it be?
M: The first reason in general is to become empowered in your own healthcare and to realize where you do have power, where you can make healthy choices to impact today how you’re feeling, but also long-term; your longevity and your wellness over time. The tools help get you into a more balanced state so you start feeling good and your immune system starts to function better automatically. But even more important than that, you come into a centered space where you can see things in a more clear, calm way and make decisions about what you choose to do in life, rather than going through the day just reacting to things. It’s about creating harmony.
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