Ahead of its time, this growing energy-based modality introduced in the 1970s takes a holistic approach to wellness.
“Energy is the real substance behind the appearance of matter and forms,” noted Randolf Stone D.C., D.O. (1890 to 1981), the founder of Polarity Therapy—a healing modality that integrates both Eastern and Western approaches to treatment and looks at the body as overlapping and intertwined energy fields in varying degrees of density that are constantly pulsating and moving.
Stone emigrated to the US from Austria as a young man at the beginning of the twentieth century, settling in Chicago and eventually completing studies in osteopathy, chiropractic, and naturopathy and maintaining a private practice from 1914 to 1972. Throughout his adult life, Stone was interested in all systems of natural healing and traveled abroad to explore Ayurveda, yoga, meditation, and Traditional Chinese Medicine—learning about prana, chi, and the “wireless anatomy of man,” as he called it.
“We have lost sight of the overall picture of man as a living being with lines of force working in fields of finer energies.”
It was in those ancient wisdom traditions that he found a missing link in the Western model of care he had learned in medical school. “For forty years I searched for a principle in the healing arts which would include all forms of therapy and act as a common denominator, an intelligent answer, to all the numerous contradictory theories and claims existing today,” he has been quoted to say. “In this age of over-specialization, with an emphasis on chemistry, bacteriology, and mechanical and surgical research, we have lost sight of the overall picture of man as a living being with lines of force working in fields of finer energies.”
Extracting essential principles from his studies in the East and combining them with his knowledge of osteopathy and chiropractic, Stone published his concepts in 1947 in a book called Energy, then went on to release additional books and pamphlets over the years. In the 1970s, he began teaching Polarity Therapy to others, and the modality has grown since.
What Is the Polarity Therapy Model?
Polarity Therapy begins with the idea that everything is energy, and that not only the food we eat and how we treat our body impacts our state of health—but also that our thoughts and emotions contribute.
It views the body as fields of energy currents that intertwine and overlap, with “life energy” coming in from its source in a process he called “involution,” stepping down into ever-increasing levels of density, and then returning back to its source in “evolution.” When there’s a state of wellbeing, the pulsating flow of that involution/evolution process is unobstructed.
Intended to help shift a client’s state back to one of harmony and health, a polarity therapist accesses and unlocks the underlying energetic holding patterns that have created any physical, mental, or emotional discord and assists in the balanced distribution of the client’s energy through any combination of energetic touch, verbal communication with reflective listening, movement, and nutritional recommendations.
Stone used the term “polarity” because of the way he found energy to flow in the body. In diagrams and charts he hand-lettered, he shows the positive pole as being the head and right side of the body, and the negative as the feet and left side of the body. There’s also a neutral field, which is along the spinal cord.
In addition, he outlines five energy centers that correspond to the chakras in Ayurvedic medicine, with each controlling a body function and section of the body: ether (the throat and hearing), air (respiration, lungs, circulation, heart), fire (digestion), water (glands and emotions) and earth (excretion).
A Polarity Therapy session, generally 60 to 90 minutes, starts with a conversation that includes reflective listening and often the client’s setting of an intention. The client remains clothed throughout the session, and It is suggested that wearing loose, comfortable clothing is best. After making an assessment of the client’s energy, the therapist may use different levels/qualities of therapeutic touch: from deep/penetrative and rhythmic/rocking to light/subtle—even off the body in the energetic field. The hands of the therapist are then placed in specific energetic pathways to redirect the flow of energy. Craniosacral techniques may also be used.
There could also be a discussion around the client’s diet, with recommendations being made based on energetic properties that correspond to the five Ayurvedic elements. Polarity exercises—specific movements combined with sound and breath designed to help release held physical and emotional patterns—can also be incorporated into a session, as well as essential oils, sound healing, and more.
Polarity Therapy In Usage Today
The wide-ranging modality of Polarity Therapy has been expanded and refined over the past decades as the number of schools teaching the modality increased, and there are now Polarity Therapy practitioners worldwide, with professional associations in the United States, Australia, and the UK.
The American Polarity Therapy Association (APTA) was launched in 1984, with members ranging from doctors, chiropractors, and psychologists to school teachers and bodyworkers. In addition to supporting its professional community, the association is working to support legislative changes that promote the use of Polarity Therapy in the healthcare system.
In 2016, APTA established a certification governing council that worked toward a nationwide testing and certification process for a Board Certified Polarity Practitioner (BCPP) credential. In order to be eligible, practitioners must have completed 675 hours of Polarity Therapy education—as defined by the association’s current Standards for Education and Practice—plus an additional 125 hours of clinical supervision experience that is overseen by an Registered Polarity Educator who has been a BCPP for a minimum of two years.
APTA endorses its BCPPs to practice Polarity Therapy as an independent discipline (without a current license in another discipline). BCPPs must re-certify every other year with continuing education credits. There are also two other levels of training: Associate Polarity Practitioner (155 hours of foundational skills that prepares students for the next level of training) and Registered Polarity Practitioner (675 hours of study that may be used as an adjunct to other licensed healthcare professions or for personal knowledge).
Randolf Stone’s legacy continues to live on not only through the growing practice of Polarity Therapy but also through what some in the Polarity Therapy community have deemed as World Polarity Day, February 26—which is Stone’s birthday.
And in 2010, students at the Colorado School of Energy Studies transcribed all of Stone’s highly detailed charts of the body’s “energy anatomy” and has made the archive—called Digital Dr. Stone—available to all.
As more and more people become open to and are seeking a holistic approach to wellbeing, Polarity Therapy is looking to become as mainstream as bodywork and massage. “There is no such thing as disease; there is only blocked energy,” notes Stone. “Free the energy, and radiant health expresses itself.” Now, almost 100 years after Stone introduced it, the time for Polarity Therapy—and lasting radiant health for all—might just be right.
Julie Sinclair is a Board Certified Polarity Practitioner (BCPP); certified yoga teacher; writer/editor; and communications, marketing, and branding professional. She currently works at the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau as Director of Brand Communications.