The palpatory reflective cycle: Bridging the gap between experience and interpretation / Workshop 1D

The palpatory reflective cycle is the process by which osteopaths make sense of palpatory experiences as raw feelings and sensations are woven together with knowledge and experience to form an understanding of what is under our hands. Through our work with osteopaths at all levels of experience, the authors have identified four key components of this process: - Direct experience - Expressing what we feel - Comparing with other experiences - Evaluating meaning and significance Though these elements are probably always present, they are frequently overlooked since they often take place automatically and unconsciously. Bringing them into focus opens up new possibilities for teaching and learning the art of palpation, which we will explore together in this workshop. In group discussions, we will reflect on how our ideas around palpation inform our approaches to teaching and how the teaching practices we base on them may support or hinder students' learning. Drawing on participants’ experience, we will extend the model as we consider the implications for how palpatory skills can be developed and enhanced in a variety of contexts. Working in trios at the treatment table, we will investigate how placing our emphasis on different aspects of the process can change the quality of our interactions. Participants will experience first hand how simply expressing what we feel, rather than succumbing to the pressure to interpret what it means, can help to generate an atmosphere of trust and a supportive group dynamic which facilitates honest reporting and open exploration of palpatory phenomena, laying a firm foundation for their accurate and reliable interpretation.

Ernest Keeling graduated from the BSO in 1964 and has taught there on the undergraduate programme since 1965. He was a founder member of the Sutherland Cranial College and helped set up the organisation's faculty development programme. He has worked as a Consultant at the Osteopathic Centre for Children and has a special interest in the development of voluntary movement from early reflex movement patterns. He has taught palpation at the BSO since 1984. Ben Katz graduated from the BSO in 2004. He holds an MSc in Paediatric Osteopathy from the Osteopathic Centre for Children and a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice. He is a member of the Institute of Classical Osteopathy and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has been teaching palpation at the BSO since 2008 and has a special interest in the phenomenology of perception and its application to osteopathic practice.

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