Integrative manual therapy (IMT) is a form of bodywork employed to diagnose and treat dysfunction of the body’s various systems and restore whole health. As the name implies, it is an integrative therapy model based on the concept that these systems are interdependent and related. Developed by physician and physical therapist, Sharon Weiselfish-Giammatteo, this therapy uses non-invasive, hands-on techniques to achieve and maintain optimum wellness of the whole person. In addition, like many other somatic modalities, it proposes that the body is programmed for self-healing.
IMT techniques primarily target the joints, connective tissue, reflex points, and the circadian rhythms unique to each system of the individual. To that end, this therapy incorporates the principles of acupuncture, reflexology and osteopathic techniques. Of course, it also embodies various advanced massage techniques.
The objective of the integrative manual therapy practitioner is to identify and isolate areas of dysfunction within the body and its various systems. This is a process that typically begins with an initial interview with the individual, as well as a review of his or her medical history. At this time, the therapist will learn how the client views his or her own health status based on the labels used to define previous conditions or concerns. However, the practitioner will then move toward the diagnostics phase of treatment to reveal the true origin of disease or discomfort.
While IMT certainly takes functional and structural theory into consideration, it is by no means limited to either. In fact, integrative diagnosis attempts to discover how the various body systems channel and communicate with each other. To access this information, the practitioner applies a series of gentle taps with the hands known as palpations. By doing so, the therapist can "listen" for signals of impairment or restriction by detecting disturbances of the circadian rhythm associated with each system. This listening extends from surface areas of the muscles, joints, and bones to the immune system, circulatory system, lymph system, etc.
Based on the diagnostic results, the practitioner will then recommend a whole body treatment to correct any imbalance. Treatment often includes dietary and lifestyle changes and, perhaps, detoxification of environmental toxins. The key to treatment, however, is whole body orientation. For instance, integrative manual therapy doesn’t generally address neck or back pain directly. Instead, treatment is focused on restoring balance to secondary systems that may be transferring stress to those areas to manifest as pain.