How a play therapist is like Zen Shiatsu’s “Mother Hand”
By Krista Reinhardt-Ruprecht, CMT, Art Therapist, Certified SPT Therapist
In Zen Shiatsu, a form of body work based on energy meridians in the body, the practitioner uses two hands on the client’s body: one hand, which holds the original grounding point, is the “mother hand”; and the other hand, which travels the length of the meridian is the “son hand.” The “mother hand” maintains contact with the particular energy meridian while the “son hand” is working. It travels further away from the “mother hand,” but she is always there, reminding him of where he started. They work in harmony with one another until the meridian feels integrated. A meridian, which may have initially been painful or sensitive, becomes less sensitive as it is worked repeatedly. Together, the “mother hand” and the “son hand” harmonize the energy of the meridian, encouraging it toward health.
In Synergetic Play Therapy (STP), this dance of attunement between therapist and client is much the same as the dance between “mother hand” and “son hand” in shiatsu. The client is doing the work, bravely traveling along the meridian, removing debris from the path to allow the chi, or life force, to flow without obstruction. The therapist waits, holding the ground, shining a beacon of light when it gets dark, and encouraging the client when the work seems too hard. There is a harmony between the two, a beautiful combination of notes that occur in a moment. It is a moment that expands through time, irrationally. A moment, in which the eyes meet, the breath is deep, and the understanding between the two is like the space between two communicating neurons: the synapse. Words are unnecessary because there is not language for this moment. Life experiences become integrated as the client taps into their chi, fulfilled by this moment of neurological expansion.
The “mother hand” and the “son hand” in the Play Therapy room shift their movements in accordance to one another, yet the “mother hand” always maintains a hold of the ground. When the debris becomes overwhelming and the load too heavy to maneuver, she is the one to model and support the grounding of the energy. She is the one who can swim in a never-ending moment of attunement striving to not drown or lose the way. She will be able to watch over the “son hand” intending to not become lost in his story, by maintaining an eagle’s eye view. And she will help him return when he needs the guidance.
Our work is profound. These moments of attunement are magical scientific gifts of Synergetic Play Therapy. When we feel them, our whole self is recharged as our clients find their life force. It is a joint venture toward health.