1. Anatomy. An excellent knowledge of how the body is made is essential. For an osteopath there are three kinds of anatomy. The first is the theory, that is the names, locations, and forms of every body part. The second is what we call functional anatomy, or ‘what things do and how’. Another word for this is ‘physiology’, but I like the term ‘functional anatomy’ because it relates function with form, which is one of osteopathy’s basic principles. The third kind of anatomy is palpatory anatomy, that is, what all the parts of the body feel like to the hands.
2. An appreciation of relationships. Relationships between body parts, between form and function, between each part or function and the whole, between the body and the mind, between the body-mind and the outside world. The inseparability of all of these. This is what osteopaths deal in.
3. Problem-solving. The ability to analyse a situation, to see its essential elements, and to understand how we may most effectively induce changes, is fundamental.
4. Manual skill. We need to attain the same kind of skill level that one sees in expert musicians, for example.
5. Medical knowledge. This enables us to know what not to do in treatment in specific cases, what lifestyle advice is most appropriate, and when to refer a patient to a medical practitioner.
6. Humility. We know the lesser part of how the body works. Therefore we must use a general plan that is tolerant of our ignorance. And each of us has our personal limitations, so we must acknowledge them and work to our strengths.
Copyright Robert Hale 2021. Image by Piotr Siedlecki, from PublicDomainPictures.net. Robert Hale practises osteopathy in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza.