What is Integral Aquatic Therapy?

Integral Aquatic Therapy is a gentle and effective form of body therapy and rehabilitation performed in warm water( 35 degrees C.). It combines elements of soft tissue manipulation and massage, joint mobilization, trigger point therapy, stretching and positional release all woven seamlessly into a beautiful sequence of fluid movements. In an aquatic session the client can totally relax. The face and nose remain out of the water as they are supported by the water, the aquatic floats, if necessary, and the healing hands of the practitioner.

The curative effects of the warm water produce spontaneous responses in the connective tissues and the autonomic nervous system as well as on the emotional and energetic levels. This leads to a state of deep relaxation and stress release. In this state, the freeing of myofascial restrictions and joint adhesions facilitates greater range of motion and the opening of new neuromuscular pathways.

Unlike bodywork in the field of gravity where the clients body is stabilized by the treatment table, in the water, the body is free to move and be moved and stretched both locally and globally in unusual ways and directions. The entire spinal column can be mobilized in snake-like undulations and spirals, impossible to achieve outside the water. The hip and shoulder joints can be more easily decompressed and guided into new movement pathways in a pain-less environment. The hydrostatic pressure of the water is like hundreds of gentle hands holding and massaging the whole body from every direction simultaneously.

For a patient suffering rheumatoid arthritis(RA), osteoarthritis (OA) or chronic pain ( CP) or any movement disability, this gentle therapy may be an introduction to a feeling of joy or freedom in movement . Integral Aquatic Therapy has been used to great effect in New Zealand clinics at Waimana Spa,, Coromandel and in a long-term treatment programmes in Benicasim, Espa??a with Kinesis Physiotherapy for RA, OA,CP and Stress Management.

The first aquatic session is often a surprising and profound experience touching deep sensory and even emotional levels. The sense of total support, trust and body fluidity and freedom is unique and astonishing. We may feel like a piece of seaweed being danced by the sea goddess, lose all sense of our habitual body identification as if we had become part of everything, feel like we have returned to the womb or simply that we have fallen into the deepest relaxation of our life.

For most of us, the last time we spent an hour floating in warm water was pre-birth - swimming in our mothers tummy, listening to the echoic rhythms of her heartbeat. As we are essentially mostly water (over 80%), it is like a primal return to ourself. The unconditional support and safety may also assist in the resolution of traumatic and psychosomatic conditions on both the physical and emotional levels

Origins of Integral Aquatic Therapy

Terapia Integrative Acuatica ( TIA ) is a unique, multi-disciplinary approach to rehabilitation, optimal performance and well-being. As in traditional aquatic therapies, the healing environment of the warm water is a key element in the therapeutic success. The method is person-centred in nature with the intention of creating a co-operative therapeutic alliance and nurturing the art and experience of embodiment.

TIA recognises a natural order inherent in the human being and acknowledges that when the musculo-skeletal system is brought into a higher, functional balance and our kinaesthetic awareness guides the self-care process that our innate healing abilities stimulate a new vitality.
Developed by Bibiana Badenes (Es) and Sol Petersen (NZ), TIA is not only a synthesis of traditional and modern approaches to Aquatic, Manual and Movement therapies but it is also a step in a new direction that is truly holistic and integrative.

Influences on the TIA Method

Manual therapy influences include: Physiotherapy, Soft Tissue Manipulation, Massage, Myofascial Release, Adaptive Physical Education, Osteopathy, Structural Integration, Craniosacral Therapy, Trager.
Aquatic therapy influences include: traditional hydrotherapy, classical swimming approaches, floating techniques from Stress management programmes and Watsu.
Psychotherapeutic influences include: Hakomi Body Psychotherapy, the Trauma work of Peter Levine and Pat Ogden and diverse relaxation methods
Movement influences include: Tai Ji , Aston, Rolfing Movement

The Treatment Process for a TIA session is based on a foundation of
a co-operative therapeutic relationship between practitioner and client.
The next step is a clinical assessment of structure and function and the client's goals.
TIA aquatic bodywork and manual methods are used in a comprehensive treatment sequence.
For optimal results movement awareness and exercises performed in the field of gravity are essential to train in a new balance and give a client tools to continue their own self-care and self-treatment programme