Contibutor to Our Profession: Meet Robert F. Harris, RMT

Massage Therapy Canada
May 02, 2010
By Massage Therapy Canada
Tell us about yourself
Almost 32 years ago, I graduated from Edith Szasz’s Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy, and took my board exam in 1978. A few years after meeting my future partner in life and work, Alix McLaughlin, we both joined the Cabbagetown practice of Dr. David Drum, DC, and began treating dance and sports professionals.

In 1985, Alix had a knee injury – it was the catalyst for a transformation of our work and focus. Her misfortune on a trampoline became our hidden blessing, for it led us to discover the benefits of craniosacral therapy. The gentleness, accuracy and effectiveness of craniosacral therapy had us signing up for the next training course available. We have not looked back since.

Professional Profile
While attending our advanced craniosacral class in 1987 with Dr. John Upledger, Alix and I were invited to become instructors for The Upledger Institute. We became certified instructors in 1990. During our time with the Institute, we helped to formulate their paediatric class and provided revisions for the craniosacral program.

In 1987, Alix and I established (and still co-direct) the Cranial Therapy Centre (CTC) in downtown Toronto, a learning centre with CEU recognition. For years it has been Canada’s largest treatment and training facility for craniosacral therapy. My initial inspiration was to give the parents of high needs children an ability to have their hands become therapeutic right away. By 1998, with a synthesis of techniques to develop enhanced sensitivity and skill ,and a redesign of the training program, I became an independent teacher. Now, RMTs are usually the majority in attendance at the CTC, but the presence of a needy parent reinforces the original inspiration and intention of the unique program.

When in my teens, I worked with a yoga teacher who had a profound effect on my awareness. Under her instruction I came to feel my awareness move out of my head down into my body. She awoke a new ability to listen and feel within and a desire to know the body more. From there spun my interest in health, which I continue to build on every day.

The training and work with Dr. Upledger, and general exposure to craniosacral therapy, have been pivotal. It has been an ongoing provider of personal health for us, while benefitting our patients. While working, craniosacral also offers such a depth of perception that each session becomes a unique, rewarding experience. These elements have certainly kept my own professional attrition at bay.

When I am treating newborns, there is often a moment when their eyes connect with mine in a trusting gaze. Witnessing their experience, as gentle craniosacral hands offer them assistance and guidance out of their imprinted stresses of birth, is always a cherished experience.

Over the years, there have been some significant developments in the craniosacral field as a result of my efforts and activities and these amount to some of my most cherished accomplishments. For instance, when craniosacral therapy was gaining modality status with the provincial College of Registration, direct input was asked of me and a committee composed of Nancy Platt, Martez Diskey and Alix.  Also, numerous media pieces have been generated in print on radio and TV, regarding craniosacral therapy, while the clinic and teaching practice have served as a beacon for this therapy. Another accomplishment is the unique course of study I developed that provides students with an efficient, rapid empowerment in a condensed, intensive form. I have also been responsible for a stillpoint technique to bring on an immediate relaxation state that goes to a profound restorative depth. Concurrently, I designed, and brought to market, adjustable, comfortable “Becalm Balls” a self-help tool enabling therapeutic progress, stress intervention and home care.

My hope for our profession as we move forward in our pursuit of higher standards, ethics and professionalism, is that our hands (given their common mesoderm origin) will continue to offer and communicate the compassionate elements of the heart.

Because our massage profession is one of constant outbound giving, it is so important to provide ourselves time that can resource us, deeply, beyond entertainment. Our own essence needs the soulful nourishment of being in nature. Even taking the time for a sustained gaze at a flower can provide the needed deep nourishment. Take the time to be in the moment. If, after a while, your mind won’t go quiet, may I suggest – trying a stillpoint!

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