AOMA Blog

A Shiatsu Q&A with Billy Zachary, MSOM, LAc

Posted by Nicole Fillion-Robin on Sat, Jun 29, 2019 @ 04:00 AM

Faculty_Headshot_HiR_BillyZacharyBilly Zachary is a licensed acupuncturist with over ten years of experience working as a professional practitioner. Since earning his master’s degree from AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in 2004, he has completed extensive training in the Hakomi method of mindfulness-centered somatic psychotherapy. He maintains an active clinical practice in Austin, Texas where he specializes in the use of acupuncture & herbal medicine in the treatment of emotional trauma.

In his previous life, he trained and taught Kuk Sool Won, a traditional Korean martial art that emphasizes mindfulness, meditation, joint locking and pressure points, though he currently practices and volunteers at Aikido of Austin. His first forays into East Asian medicine was in Shiatsu.


How did you get started as a Shiatsu practitioner? Any favorite instructors that you follow? 
 
Pam Ferguson was my Shiatsu teacher, and feel lucky to say that I was mentored by Jaime Wu while I was in school. Both practice with a clarity of focus that shines through in their treatments and teaching, matched only by their kindness and goodwill.   

Shiatsu is like one part bodywork, one part qi gong.  As the practitioner treats the patient, they work on their own qi. Practiced correctly, at the end of a session you should feel refreshed, and relaxed. 
 
This work helped me get through the program when I was an acupuncture student (back in the days of  dialup, pagers and dinosaurs). It is the work I can turn to if I am burned out, exhausted, or not feeling at my best. 
 

Can you describe how Shiatsu is different from other types of bodywork?

It uses the meridian system, and is very compatible with the diagnostic thinking we use with acupuncture.  It give the practitioner the opportunity to treat and diagnosis through touch, and adjust their treatments accordingly. 

Are there various types within the broader style of Shiatsu? Which form do you practice?

There are a bunch of kinds. I teach Zen Shiatsu. Superficially, it looks like acupressure with the stretches from Thai Yoga massage. 

What kind of patients do you feel it works best on? Do you often combine it with acupuncture or do either/or? Is your pricing structure typically more if you do bodywork?

All kinds! And it can integrate with acupuncture, at all levels. It can be part of your diagnosis, part of warming up, or part of finishing. Or a smidge of acupuncture can be used along a full Shiatsu treatment.

I do charge more for Shiatsu time, because I cannot treat in two rooms at once.

 

How do you get certified as a practitioner? Is it through AOBTA? How do students get clinical hours as of now?

You have to complete AOBTA's requirements, just as you would with Tuina.  Most of those are already taken care of by your acupuncture training.  I believe students need to have the appropriate hours of Shiatsu class, and then hours logged in clinic. Anyone can arrange to do a Shiatsu clinic when I am on campus supervising a clinic. 

 

How long have you taught Shiatsu?

I'm new at teaching this, but I have taught martial arts for a long time (think VHS and new homes were still under $90k). The method of teaching both draws from many of the same skills.  As I continue to teach, I am fortunate to have my teacher in town, who I go to mentorship and guidance.  

Are there any videos or books you recommend for students to get a sense of what you teach on campus? I looked up Shiatsu on youtube and found this video. Please tell me we'll learn this.

That looks fun! It would be interesting to see how that method works with a patient larger than yourself, with cervical issues! So, that is not quite what I teach. 

Here is a video, low quality and old, by the founder of Zen Shiatsu. The focus is on what is happening at the point of contact, and past it, and forgoes the acrobatics for focus and meditation.  

In terms of reading, I recommend Shiatsu Theory and Practice

 

Thank you so much for your time Billy! Shiatsu 1 is offered this coming summer term for AOMA Students. 

Topics: asian bodywork therapy, tcm education, musculoskeletal health, preventative medicine, pain management, shiatsu, AOBTA

Pamela Ferguson on Compassionate Palliative Care

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 @ 12:23 PM

 

Why do so many of our colleagues shy away from palliative care? A few years ago, when I stood up at our Southwest Symposium to give a thumbnail sketch prior to my afternoon workshop in palliative care, two thirds of the delegates rose and left the conference hall. I kid you not. “Wow,” I said, “This can’t be because I’m wearing the wrong deodorant, surely!”

The dozen or so who attended my workshop later were all accomplished Licensed Acupuncturists who were also Asian Bodywork Therapists or Massage Therapists. Therein lies the key. Those of us with bodywork skills aren’t afraid to work with clients who are terminally ill. In fact, it’s a gift – an honor. Especially if you have the chance to work on a long-term client through their final few months or weeks. The experience can be profound, which is why it’s great that AOMA offers offsite clinics in hospice care!

On a practical level, pain control is crucial. This can often mean stepping outside standard protocols and working patiently with the client to see which combination of acupoints eases both physical and emotional pain. It’s helpful to focus on the client’s hands and feet, especially in a hospital or hospice setting. Having a skilled, compassionate, and mindful touch with a minimum of points is essential. It may not always be wise or possible to use needles. I often teach family members of clients some simple acupressure work for those long hours when they sit beside a terminally ill loved one, feeling helpless or staring at some noisy game on TV. Sometimes a practitioner provides a calming center or focus in the room (at home or in hospital) when family members of the client fall apart – or – start heated arguments. I’ve seen all shades of behavior. Qi work is paramount. Not only to keep the practitioner centered and focused, but to maintain a calming atmosphere around the client. It’s equally important to remind family members that the sense of hearing is the last to go, and to never assume that a loved one can’t hear even while appearing unresponsive or in a coma.

 

For more info – see Pam’s column “Compassionate ABT for Palliative Care” in Acupuncture Today of February 2014 (15,2).

Pam will teach a Palliative Care workshop on April 18, 2015 at AOMA for PDA points and LMT CEUs. Find out more at https://aoma.edu/calendar/event/2673/, and register at http://store.aoma.edu/product/cc-palliative-15.html.

pam_matte_300_350Pam Ferguson Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA® – CI, LMT (TX) teaches advanced classes in Asian Bodywork Therapy, mainly in Europe. She is AOMA’s Asian Bodywork Therapy Dean Emerita.

Topics: asian bodywork therapy, palliative care

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