Christine Conroy DO FSCCO is a retired osteopath who practised osteopathy in rural Wales for over thirty years and teaches osteopathy at a post graduate level. Christine also leads IMMOTION course-workshops to health professionals who are actively exploring the body-mind connection by understanding physical tensions, discomfort and dis-ease.
‘You do backs, don’t you?’
Born in the industrial north of England in the 1950’s, since 1978 I have lived in beautiful mid Wales, where I was practising osteopathy for over thirty years. A designated UNESCO biosphere, there are plenty of organic growers, farmers, craftsmen and women, gardeners, environmentalists and ecologists in the Dyfi valley, yet it took me nearly twenty-five years to recognise the obvious: our bodies are ecosystems in themselves.
I’d never heard of osteopathy until I needed help after becoming badly injured by a loaded cement truck that ploughed into our flimsy Renault 4, bouncing it into the gable wall of a house and destroying the pebble dash 4 feet up from the ground. Eighteen months later, after my first osteopathic treatment, I thought, ‘I could do this and I’d love to do this.’ Until that time, I had not found my calling, stuck as I was between my perceived choices: I could work with my hands, indulging my practical and creative skills, and probably be low paid; or I could be sensible and make best use of my academic and mathematical mind by becoming an accountant, and probably be bored. With osteopathy, my career choice dilemma was resolved.
Little did I know in 1985, when I enrolled at the British School of Osteopathy in London to train as an osteopath, that the practice of osteopathy would be a life-long study of people, of the body-mind interplay, and of the difference between pain and suffering. It also proved to be a pathway that began with overconfidence and led to greater compassion, awareness and humility … and an understanding that osteopathy is not just about backs.
Always fascinated by people in their many shapes and styles, with their many habits, fears and phobias, preferences and personalities, I began to suspect that an individual’s psycho-emotional make-up had something to do with the intensity of their pain and where in the body it most frequently manifested – irrespective of the subjectively perceived cause. Paying more serious clinical attention to this while reading early body-mind books -- and later studying the work of Drs Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen, which had given rise to the field of somatic psychology -- eventually I had something to offer: I ran professional postgraduate course-workshops called ‘IMMOTION’ -- a made-up word that implies both emotion and lack of physical motion -- while gathering further information from my colleagues’ experiences.
After recognising that our bodies are fantastically efficient eco-systems -- complete with self-balancing, self-regulating and self-correcting properties, and influenced by the weather of our minds and emotions -- it was clear that we, in our bodies, play an interactive part with everyone and everything else in the greater ecosystem that is our earthly home. ‘Doing backs’ does come into it, of course, because that is what is most frequently asked of me.
After 15 years in practice, I became a faculty member of the Sutherland Cranial College of Osteopathy. Until the world stopped in March 2020 I regularly taught postgraduate osteopathy courses in the UK and Germany, and continue to present talks, run workshops and professional three-day IMMOTION courses. At leisure, I enjoy walking, designing and modifying clothes and tending my two organic vegetable gardens while helping others with their organic gardens. In the summer months, I love my other job as director of, and part-time elderly rigger for, a colourful festival marquee company. I do love outdoor fun and a bit of a party!