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Osteomyology vs Osteopathy

The Osteopathic Profession under the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) became a regulated body in statute by Parliamentary Bill. The Association of Osteomyologists are seeking to become regulated in statute and hope to achieve that status in 2013, with the help of Prince Charles as their patron.  

Having practiced Osteopathy for eighteen years until 2010, I have been saddened to see the changes brought about by GOsC since their inception in 1997.  They were controversial from the word go, in that all Osteopaths had to reapply to maintain their status.  This was a necessary 'weeding out' process for those minority non-qualified practitioners - but it was done with little empathy to members of the profession - many choosing to leave at that point in time. 

I do not feel it appropriate to name individual cases, but I can use a couple of examples. When I graduated in 1996, mine was the first year at the European School of Osteopathy to complete the degree course and achieve that status.  All 38 graduates were very proud - as were the school faculty. Previously, Osteopaths had graduated with a Diploma in Osteopathy. 

Within a relatively short time of graduating, I found myself questioning why I was having to go through a somewhat arduous paperwork exercise - taking about 30 hours, to justify my claim to the title Osteopath. Therefore, all credible Osteopaths, including all my peers from my graduation year, along with the entire excellent faculty who taught us, had to go through the same process.  The same applied across the board without any common sense for individual situations.  This was not acceptable to many who had served the profession for many years with an appropriate qualification.  Yet we all had to suffer the trials of GOsC to satisfy their needs of 'public perception and safety'.  

A blind osteopath that I knew and treated professionally, told me that he felt he was being hounded out of the profession as his disability made it difficult for him to fulfil GOsC criteria.  He used to come to see me at Still Point with his guide dog.  He ultimately lost heart and left the profession. 

Largely speaking, that situation has not changed - in fact it grows much worse.  There exists a mood of discontent within the Osteopathic profession in many quarters.  I accept that a regulatory body has to fulfil its role in statute.  But it is another thing to run roughshod over and through the profession in the way that GOsC have done and continue to do.  At present, there is an online forum within the Osteopathic profession, which is an independent forum where UK osteopaths can meet and discuss how they want their profession to be regulated and developed.  The results of this survey show the preferences of over 200 osteopaths regarding the choice of regulator. There is currently an energetic discussion about their choice of regulator, and whether they wish to retain GOsC or move to another regulator with a function limited to 'core' regulation and reclaim the right to develop their profession themselves. 

If you read my section on History of Osteopathy, you will understand where my beliefs began, and where my own belief system in what I do - has come from and grown, to mean so much to me.  Osteopathy became my way of life and permeated every aspect of my life.  Not just in treatment, but in understanding people in a more empathetic way and realising my own personal growth and development. 

The founder of Osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still, was a most innovative and intuitive thinker.  He demonstrated technique only to his students.  He did not give notes or hand outs.  He wanted his students to understand the principle, and then develop their own style.  This underpinned the philosophies of Osteopathy and allowed it to be always progressive and innovative. This is what led to the popularity of the profession and paradoxically, the perceived need to have a regulatory body in statute. Until the inception of GOsC, the above principle and philosophy within the profession has always existed. 

In this respect, GOsC have effectively introduced measures which many believe are a retrograde step to the profession.  There are many cases of Osteopaths being needlessly prosecuted through the GOsC Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), which many feel is an attempt to define and restrict areas of practice that GOsC deem unsafe for the public.  Areas of Osteopathy, which have grown and developed over the years, to place it on the platform of public awareness, which it enjoys today. 

I know of many cases, but there are three in particular that I have a close knowledge of, which have appalled me by the level of attack and ferocity with which GOsC has pursued certain individuals.  These individuals have suffered enormously and in a very unfair and unjust fashion.  I think it is deplorable what GOsC have been able to do and get away with up until now.  But the interesting point is that they appear to be a law unto themselves.  The government and other regulatory bodies which should oversee and govern their actions are, in fact, apparently quite mute in this respect. 

It is because of this, that for the past four years I have given interest to the Association of Osteomyologists and their progressive work in the therapeutic field. 

By 2013, all regulated bodies covering the various professions will have to scrutinise their respective professions and the practitioners under their jurisdiction.  This is a process called 'Revalidation' - which is similar to the situation I mentioned at the beginning of this section, whereby members once again have to satisfy a legal requirement that they may maintain their title.

To date (Decemberl 2010), there is only one Association which has formalised this process - The Association of Osteomyologists.  They have had their own training facility since 2007, and deliver a wide variety of courses to cover the individual needs with regard to continual personal development (CPD).  They are currently already delivering courses which include the revalidation process to meet the requirements of that legal process.  GOsC have yet to roll out their delivery system, which is likely to be another arduous paper exercise, which is already creating further unrest within the profession. 

It is for these and other personal reasons, that I have made the decision in December 2010 to relinquish the title Osteopath in preference for that of Osteomyologist.

A large number of the Associations senior practitioners are in daily contact with Dr Sir Alan Clemens, constantly honing, suggesting, and polishing the protocols, methodology and Osteomyology concepts.  This way the Association stays ahead and advances constantly.  It is innovative.  It is progressive. It has been suggested to Dr Sir Alan Clemens by GOsC that he used the name Osteomyology to sound like Osteopathy, this he denies vehemently. He points out that Osteomyology was formed before the GOsC was inaugurated. The original name had been Neurosteomyology but had been found wanting as patients couldn’t pronounce it.  Unlike Osteopathy the Association’s name signifies exactly what we do - Osteo (bone) myo (muscle) ology (the study and treatment of), whereas the title Osteopath signifies that they treat bone disease.  This is not their mandate - but has always been just an anomaly of the title preferred by Andrew Taylor Still!  A mute point which members of the Osteopathic profession accept as it is in essence, the roots of the profession which gives meaning to the title. 

I have wondered over the past few years what Andrew Taylor Still and William Garner Sutherland (Still’s pupil and the founder of Cranial Osteopathy) would say to the current state of the Osteopathic profession under GOsC. My belief system tells me that if they were alive today - I would be following in 'their footsteps' and leaving that regulatory body.  Leaving to pursue their pioneering and innovative foresight within another organisation which embraces the very philosophy, principle and freedom of choice of each individual to develop and change.  In the spirit of change, progress and in research and personal development. 

Osteomyology for me now, begins where Osteopathy ends.  By embracing and allowing the roots of a profession which was always meant to be expansive - to do exactly that.  My belief system has been restored.  I feel whole again. 

For me, the Association of Osteomyologists is the most exciting and expanding group of practitioners this country has ever seen.

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