John Barnes, PT - Myofascial Release

Discussion of Myofascial Release techniques, both generic and modality specific.

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John Barnes, PT - Myofascial Release

Postby pueppi on Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:45 am

I am interested in hearing a unique discussion on the pros and cons of taking a class with the John F. Barnes, PT group.

How was the set up? Was the facility comfortable to learn in? What was the student to teacher ratio like? Which instructor did you have? Was the class more esoteric, clinical, emotional, structural, combined, etc. Was there anything the class seemed to be lacking in?

I know there are a lot of JFB followers out there so, I'm hoping to see a full range of comments, and not just a <<<<< JFB is the only way >>>>> mantra.
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Postby WaltFritz on Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:13 am

Well, as someone who took seminars from John as well as instructed the hands-on portion of classes of his for years, I may be able to add something. Facilities are typically hotel banquet rooms, which vary widely. John is the Instructor for nearly all of the seminars given by his organization, except for most of the fascial pelvis classes as well as the two intro classes (pediatrics and mobilization). Student teacher ratio tends to be in the 15 to 1 range, a comfortable number for instructors once the hands-on teaching starts. The classes John teaches have gotten more esotric over the 15 years I was associated with them, but the information is extremely easy to grasp as well as more than sufficient hands-on training. Leaving the seminar with the "feel" is important, and I think they do a great job of this.

As this is my training, as well as my profession, I may stop here and allow others to add their comments. Won't be around for a few days, so if anyone has specific questions for me, please be patient.
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Postby wellnessgarden on Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:43 am

I'm looking forward to comments too pueppi, because there is going to be Barnes MFR in my area in August, and I could knock out 3 seminars in 2 weeks, if the money flows in soon.

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Postby StressSolutions on Fri Mar 02, 2007 5:35 am

I've had 5 so far. The handouts are nice, they do a good job there.

They do a good job too providing some snacks and drinks throughout the day.

One thing that bothered me, that got worse during the vacation seriew of MFR I, rebounding and then Cervical Thoracic, was that as soon as John would start a demo, the "model" would unwind, and we'd get to spend 20 minutes watching an unwinding instead of watching the technique being demonstrated. Then we'd go to practice it, and then it'd be hurry hurry hurry back.

Maybe I'm the only one that noticed because it seems as if I'm the only one that didn't unwind.

One thing that I suggested is that they add a box to the website sign up form..."will you be bringing a massage table" because the hotel will set up the whole room with the skinny banquet tables, which then have to be removed for the massage tables.

Can't wait to see what Marion has to say...
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Postby MarionFM on Mon Mar 05, 2007 4:13 am

Now how did you know that I had to reply?!?!?

I have taken four seminars so far, and plan to take another shortly. I have enjoyed the technical MFR aspect of the JFB seminars, although I too have some concerns about the degree or amount of unwinding. Of course, people who "unwind" a lot will say that I just haven't reached that stage yet. ;)

There can be an emotional component to the work which, if freed up, can help people to heal. When there is tissue memory or a freeze response (where people have, at some level, frozen in the position they were in at the time of trauma), I can understand unwinding. At our last seminar, there was a girl who had a bad accident on roller blades. When she unwound and ended up on the floor, she said she was in the exact position that the EMT's had found her. You are in complete control while you unwind. In fact, some instructors say, if you unwind, please "keep it on the table".

That said, some unwindings look more like exorcisms and can be a little unnerving to people who have never seen it before.

The techniques are well taught and are so-o-o effective. There is a manual that comes with each seminar although I think some of the technique descriptions could be a little more detailed. A three day weekend is very intensive and you just don't retain all the information.

I love the work and it can have some amazing results. Of course, maybe having my magic fingers helps!!
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Postby WaltFritz on Mon Mar 05, 2007 4:05 pm

Marion,

Don't put pressure on yourself to reach the "level" that others think you need to achieve. You will unwind when and if you are ready and are in a safe environment to do so. The "serial unwinders" aften forget about the structural neccessity of the work. But, that is what is so good about what we all do, there are no strict protocols that we must follow.
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Postby Rubmyster on Wed Mar 14, 2007 6:32 am

I took MFR 1 about 9 years ago at a hotel near my home. I was overwhelmed by the fact that there were 120+ students and not enough TA's to go around. I felt bad that I didn't get enough help and really struggled through the workshop. JB did a great job of teaching and yes, the demos were people unwinding. What also disturbed me was during one of the trades I could hear people choking, crying, gagging, etc. across the darkened room. I really should have asked for a refund as it was impossible to learn such a sensitive technique with so little time from the assistants.
I found that the Upledger CS courses were better at learing MFR and the CS work that JB tried to teach during the MFR 1 and 2 classes.
I also had a bug up my a*& that JB is pulling in some much $ with these packed seminars.
I took MFR2 later in the year in another city and there were only about 50 students. One trade I did with an MT who was treated by someone in the hotel was shocking in that she pelvic floor work in a room with people there.
:shock:
I learn much better with less than 100 people in the room.
Just my 2 cents.
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Postby BJB-LMP on Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:01 am

I have not taken a JB seminar. I am debating whether I might, and leaning toward not doing so, based on the experience of a colleague. He too felt there were far too few assistants to get real help. The technique, to him, felt like it was performed far too fast and "hard" for fascia (lots of jamming a hand in deep and quick). He was unimpressed by the lengthy pulls on the arms. And particularly, he was on the table while another student worked on his QL while a TA clarified technique; when the TA worked on him too rapidly and he objected, a second TA, who had been chastising my colleague for questioning the speed of the work, "ran over and injured my QL. Like he was punishing me."

He got up off the table and got his money back.

Again, I have not taken these seminars myself, so I am only reporting what I have been told. Still, it gave me pause.
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Postby pueppi on Wed Mar 14, 2007 5:30 pm

OK, so I'll tell you my reason for not wanting to take the JB seminars up to this point.

This may sound stupid, but I don't like the smugness Mr. Barnes appears to exude on the covers of the phamplets that I receive. What can I say. The picture rubs me the wrong way.

Of course, I haven't met any of the instructors and Walt, here, seems to really care, and so I am at least re-considering my opinion.

But, I too, like BJB-LMP have currently taken pause (just for different reasons).
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Postby wellnessgarden on Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:36 am

These are some of the same concerns I've had. My school offers very good CEU classes taught by people who have trained with the big names, at a fraction of the cost. It has been a toss up so far as to whether I would take JB MFR series, or put that money toward an electric table...hmmm. :?

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Postby Rubmyster on Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:41 am

This is a great thread as I'm hearing some very real comments on this work and how it's marketed.
I agree with peuppi that JB seems rather smug in his ads and his new seminar for women's pelvic pain is downright scary :roll: I am shocked that he would advertise that one should come to the seminar even if the work isn't in your scope of practice. The whole "renegade" thing is tiring and I don't feel like this would appeal to me to take the classes.
I also agree with the other posts about the skills and demeanour of the TAs. I remember one in particular who seemed so aloof that she floated from table to table. When I asked for some help she seemed po'd that I couldn't get the technique. Then she left to "help" someone else.
And finally what really burns me is to see the amount of $$$ that JB is raking in with these crowded seminars.
I really prefer Upledger's seminars as they have only about 30-40 students, lots of TAs, and the teachers are not aloof. By the way, I understand that JB and Upledger used to work together and then split.
Just my vent.
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Postby WaltFritz on Thu Mar 15, 2007 4:46 pm

I’ve read a number of points that I’d like to address. I could not help but smile when I read of the “smug” factor of John Barnes’ photo in his ads. I felt this same way back in the early 90’s. In fact, if it had not been for a co-worker who convinced me to attend MFR1, I still would not have done so. The smug photo, though a much younger version, coupled with the smear campaign that the Amer. Physical Therapy Assoc. (APTA) had in place against him at the time, almost held me back. Barnes as a personality is certainly one thing, and I am in no way defending or representing anything about that. What I know is that the money I spent taking all of his seminars was worth as much, if not more, than my PT degree, at substantially less cost. Are the seminars expensive? Yup, but I feel that they were well worth it. I do 100%MFR. Were they expensive, considering the results I get; no, they were not. There is no doubt that he is pulling huge amounts of money in from the seminars, but isn’t what matter the outcome for you? After having taken a huge number of manual therapy courses over the years, I’ve yet to find anything that is so effective. Only my opinion, though.

I instructed with John for over 10 years and was a site coordinator for many of those years. I met many wonderful instructors and some that were not so good. When reading through the student evaluation forms at the end of classes, it always seemed that the students who complained about the lack of one-on-one help were the ones that least asked for it. The instructor to student ration in normally quite good, on par with most Upledger classes, except for the smaller classes of his. As for learning MFR in an Upledger class…it simply is not taught unless you attend one of the higher level fascial mobilization seminars. You may prefer the way the Upledger folks present craniosacral, vs. the way Barnes presents it. I’ve taken both and found both had strong points, but to each their own. As for the person who said that too much time with an arm pull technique, the arm and leg pull techniques are only demo’d by John in the front of the room, no time is devoted from class time for the practice of these techniques. So, either the person was practicing them during break time or not at all. Same for every seminar, no class time for the arm pull. As for someone working too hard on the QL, even an instructor, one has to look out for themselves in any seminar setting. As I stated before, there are good as well as bad instructors/TA’s, as there are good as well as bad seminar participants.

As for taking MFR classes from others, or from students of Barnes, this can be a good place to start. I teach some intro style classes in my area, 15-18 hour type ones. I encourage anyone who connects with the work to then take the classes from John. Is it that I’m not good enough? No, just that he really is the best teacher out there for MFR. Again, simply my opinion.

One difference between Barnes and Upledger classes, from a student standpoint. Upledger gives you only a very little bit of rope once you complete class 1. You are told to do 50-100 10 step protocols before taking CST 2, and the TA’s are instructed to discourage/stop any unwinding during the early classes. The various head instructors vary, but are mostly quite good. They tend to be very quiet, serous classes. In Barnes’ classes, you, as the student, are given the encouragement/empowerment to take what you’ve learned and go with it, no limits (beyond some basic contraindications). This met more with my personality. I guess a lot of what people have heard about Barnes’ classes is second handed, much like what I originally heard through the APTA.
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Postby Elizabeth on Wed Apr 04, 2007 3:30 pm

I've taken 4 seminars and have received a treatment in Sedona. All I can say is that the techniques work, but the serial unwinding by some students was just too much for me to handle. Blood curdling screams over and over again. I swear he has groupies. I have taken MFR classes by others since and have been happy with the instruction. Advanced-Trainings (advanced-trainings.com) has good classes with very small classes. When I had the treatment at his Sedona facility, I couldn't unwind because of screaming in the next treatment room, and it really seemed that the therapist was trying to punish me. She kept yelling "and how do you feel about your uterus now!" and then plunge her fingers into my abdomen. That was the last straw. And to think I paid close to $300 for that abuse.
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Postby Breathe on Wed Apr 04, 2007 7:06 pm

Elizabeth wrote:I've taken 4 seminars and have received a treatment in Sedona. All I can say is that the techniques work, but the serial unwinding by some students was just too much for me to handle. Blood curdling screams over and over again. I swear he has groupies. I have taken MFR classes by others since and have been happy with the instruction. Advanced-Trainings (advanced-trainings.com) has good classes with very small classes. When I had the treatment at his Sedona facility, I couldn't unwind because of screaming in the next treatment room, and it really seemed that the therapist was trying to punish me. She kept yelling "and how do you feel about your uterus now!" and then plunge her fingers into my abdomen. That was the last straw. And to think I paid close to $300 for that abuse.


:shock:

...and besides that I really have to laugh, because for quite awhile Barnes was using that very iconic full page photo in the massage magazines. Everytime my husband saw one of those pictures he would throw his arms out, his head back, close his eyes and thunder: "DEMONS OUT!"

:biglaugh:
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Postby StressSolutions on Wed Apr 04, 2007 8:25 pm

Elizabeth wrote: I couldn't unwind because of screaming in the next treatment room,

It distracts me too...as a therapist and as the "patient"


and it really seemed that the therapist was trying to punish me. She kept yelling "and how do you feel about your uterus now!" and then plunge her fingers into my abdomen. That was the last straw. And to think I paid close to $300 for that abuse.
I'm sorry to hear this, I don't think that is how it is supposed to be at all. Could be that therapist was feeling insecure because you were not unwinding and the others in the area were. It's still not right. At least I hope it isn't the way it is supposed to be. I've never been there.
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Postby WaltFritz on Thu Apr 05, 2007 5:25 am

These are all good and reasonable perspectives of the range of possible MFR experiences. Students at the Barnes seminars have always complained that there is too much noise, whether from others unwinding, emoting, what have you, while other students insist that the noise actually helps them to go for it. Individual taste is what it comes down to, whether as a seminar choice or as a treatment choice. Therapy sessions, as they are run in Sedona, are not necessarily the same as MFR sessions by other practitioners elsewhere. You are the consumer, whether paying for a seminar or paying for a session. A therapist who is coming from their own pain or with their own agenda should be stopped, no matter what the work or what the rationale. Voice that concern and you might be accused of not looking at your own deeper issues. It may have merit, it may be baseless. The lousy thing is, though, that you may not realize which was correct until a great deal of time has passed.

MFR is not a protocol-based method of teaching. It allows a great deal of space for individual variation on therapist comfort levels and beliefs. "Forced" unwindings are not a part of my treatment regime. I cannot speak for anyone but myself. When I had treatment in Sedona or Paoli, I never felt forced, though maybe I went there without coercion. I've never felt forced to practice in a certain way by John or others.

John's full page ads have gotten skewered on more than one site on the web, some of it justified, some I believe out of professional jealousy. It is what it is. Quoting and paraphrasing (how's that for an oxymoron?) an anonymous source, students will seldom follow a teacher who sets themselves up on a level equal to their students. Take what you will out of this. Find a teacher that can teach you what you want and need. Stay and relish in it, as many do, or simply thank the teacher, make the information your own, and move on.
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