COMPANION

The Alexander Technique in the Workplace

This article covers the application of the Technique to the workplace and the teaching of the Technique at the workplace, on site. (This entry excludes music, dance and acting colleges, hospitals and schools, see below).

F. M. Alexander

Although there are references to the application of the Technique to work in Alexander’s writings, there is no record of Alexander teaching people on site (except in the early days when he would to go London theatres to work with actors, and in 1940 when he visited Coghill at his home.)

History

The first reference to the explicit use of the Alexander Technique to the work place was in 1936. John Hilton, Professor of Industrial Relations, in his address at a Conference of the Institute of Labour Management mentions the value of the Technique to industrial workplaces. (Alexander makes reference to this and includes an excerpt in UCL.[1]) John Hilton said:

The workers of the new generation will come to you with already ingrained bad habits in poise, in movement, and in coordination. If you don’t know these things that Alexander has brought to light, you will not only let him keep his bad uses of his limbs and head and body, you will set him tasks that will aggravate them, and then you won’t know why he goes sour and goes sick, you won’t know why he can’t stand a day’s work.[2]

For many years, however, the closest teachers of the Technique got to a workplace, would be teachers at music or acting institutions. Only recently have teachers successfully been able to teach at the workplace, frequently by having a teaching room where employees could go during the workday for lessons.

Since this is an overlap between the Alexander Technique and ergonomics, some Alexander Technique teachers have combined the two. See also Ergonomics.

Articles

  • ‘Technique in Industry’ by Robert Best; on some potential difficulties in introducing the Technique in industry workplaces.[3]
  • ‘Working on a kibbutz as an Alexander teacher’ by Joan Diamond on working for two years on a kibbutz.[4]
  • ‘Alexander Technique in a factory environment’ by Betty Aboulafia reports on a workshop on the Alexander Technique given to 14 workers at a textile factory in Mexico City.[5]
  • ‘Advice for Alexander teachers working in industry’ by Robin Simmons and Penny O’Connor covers how to approach a company, pricing, and set-up of the practice (individual, group, working as a consultant, within occupational health, heath & safety).[6]
  • ‘Self-management in the workplace’ by Peter Ribeaux considers the Alexander Technique in the workplace from an occupational psychology point of view.[7]
  • ‘The Alexander Technique in corporations’ by Josephine Gray shares her experiences of teaching two pilot courses at Chevron Corporation 2000–2001 and at Whole Foods in 2003.[8]
  • ‘Alexander Technique coaching in the Victorinox Company’ by Priska Gauger-Schelbert and Paul auf der Maur describes their four-year project of gathering information, piloting Alexander Technique groups in various departments, and finally implementing Alexander Technique groups throughout the factory, with some 950 employees.[9]
  • ‘Alexander Technique in corporations’ by Josephine Gray discusses presentations, how to approach a corporation, the AT as prevention (preventing injury, RSI), ideas for shaping an approach for teaching, and sample survey questions.[10]
  • ‘Eleven years at Hewlett Packard – 1997 to 2008’ by Felicity Bryant; on setting up a teaching practice and teaching within a corporation.[11]
  • ‘Working for Eileen Fisher, Inc.’ by Mara Sokolsky; a teacher in New York relates her experiences of giving private lessons at the administrative offices of a clothing design company.[12]
  • ‘Keeping your cool when the boss overheats: Inhibition in the workplace’ by Ruth Roothberg and April Sotura; a case history of how a worker dealt with a difficult boss in a consulting firm, and shows how the Alexander Technique can be applied to bullying at work.[13]

Books

Many introductory books to the Alexander Technique would cover some information on the process of sitting.

  • How to Sit Your Body at Work by Ann Rodiger is dedicated to sitting at a workstation.[14]
  • A Lawyer’s Guide to the Alexander Technique by Karen G. Krueger. The Alexander Technique applied to the workplace of lawyers.[15]
  • My back’s knackered! What can I do about it? by Dai Richards contains much ergonomic advice.[16]

For teaching in schools see Education – The Alexander Technique for children.

For teaching in Music Collges see Teaching Children and at Music Colleges

For teaching doctors and in hospitals see Hospitals and health services

See also Ergonomics, Prison, Imprisonment, Alexander Technique in the community.

References

[1] ‘Excerpts from an address delivery by John Hilton’, Appendix D in The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), pp. 202–203.
[2] The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), pp. 201–202.
[3] ‘Technique in Industry’ by Robert Best in The Alexander Journal No. 5, 1966, edited by Wilfred Barlow, pp. 10–14.
[4] ‘Working on a kibbutz as an Alexander teacher’ by Joan Diamond in STATNews vol. 4, no. 15 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, June 1996), p. 13.
[5] ‘Alexander Technique in a factory environment’ by Betty Aboulafia in STATNews vol. 4, no. 19 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, September 1997), p. 9.
[6] ‘Advice for Alexander teachers working in industry’ by Robin Simmons and Penny O’Connor in STATNews vol. 4, no. 18 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, June 1997), pp. 6–7.
[7] ‘Self-management in the workplace’ by Peter Ribeaux in Direction vol. 3, no. 4 edited by Paul Cook (Direction Journal, 2005), pp. 30–33.
[8] ‘The Alexander Technique in corporations’ by Josephine Gray in AmSAT News issue no. 72 (Winter 2006), pp. 16–18.
[9] ‘Alexander Technique coaching in the Victorinox Company’ by Priska Gauger-Schelbert and Paul auf der Maur, in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 169–79.
[10] ‘Alexander Technique in corporations’ by Josephine Gray in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 217–33.
[11] ‘Eleven years at Hewlett Packard – 1997 to 2008’ by Felicity Bryant in STATNews vol. 6, no. 28 edited by Ann James (STAT, May 2009), p. 20.
[12] ‘Working for Eileen Fisher, Inc.’ by Mara Sokolsky in AmSAT Journal issue no. 11, Spring 2017, pp. 13–14.
[13] ‘Keeping your cool when the boss overheats: Inhibition in the workplace’ by Ruth Roothberg and April Sotura in AmSAT News issue no. 68 (Fall 2005), pp. 12–13.
[14] How to Sit Your Body at Work by Ann Rodiger (Dog Ear Publishing, 2010).
[15] A Lawyer's Guide to the Alexander Technique by Karen G. Krueger (American Bar Association, 2016).
[16] My back's knackered! What can I do about it? by Dai Richards (Blurb, 2014).
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