Aquatic therapy is a specialized service of individualized therapy between a practitioner and a client in a heated body of water. The 1:1 therapy session involves a practitioner guiding the client through a series of gentle twists, stretches and movements. The therapy takes place in 96-degree warm water, simulating the same temperature as the skin. The combination of warm water and movement produces a calming state for the mind and body.
Aquatic Therapist Training at Healing Wave Aquatics
Aquatic Therapists at Healing Wave Aquatics have all achieved a high level of practice with a minimum of 1,000 hours of training, including: 500 hours of specialized aquatic therapy training, 500 hours of massage therapy training, classes in trauma-informed training, and CPR/Life Support certification. At Healing Wave Aquatics, our aquatic therapists are screened for their knowledge and audited for their skills prior to working with clients to present a best practices program for individuals who are dealing with chronic trauma.
Arrival and Getting Started
The client arrives at Healing Wave Aquatics and is greeted by their practitioner. We have two shower rooms to rinse before going to one of our two 96-degree pools. Once in the water, the client is provided with floats that will assist their legs being buoyant, while the air in their lungs supports their core, and the therapist is responsible for their head. After a grounding introduction, the body is invited to float up, skimming the surface of the water like a feather as the therapist bends, stretches, and moves their body through space. It can be sublimely relaxing, providing the receiver with potential relief from chronic pain, physical ailments, or emotional trauma.
Aquatic Therapy Sequences
A typical water session will begin and end with an exercise for grounding. Initially, the intention is to introduce the client to the water: inviting them to feel the warmth of the pool, to begin to connect with their breath to loosen the body. The session also comes to a close with a docking ceremony on the wall of the pool.
Calm and meditative stillness are an important functional part of introducing the receiver to the environment and helping their subconscious settle into a trusting space during the work. This is the root from which the rest of the session stems from, and a refuge from the turbulence of movement. One of the greatest benefits of these moments is how they can alter your perception of time; slowing things down and deepening the receiver's connection with themselves and their breath.
The warmth of the pool significantly facilitates ease of movement, and a further range of motion than most people expect of themselves. This work allows for some beautiful movements that can feel like passive yoga poses in the water. For those less inclined to move, it can be a great way to find the healthy limits of their range of motion, while the practitioner is always being cautious of any areas of injury and preventing potential discomfort.
Swishing the body from side to side, and swaying back and forth is such a lovely and playfully simple way to show people the potential of the water. Moves that wave the body through space activate the entire spine and significantly impact the body’s natural relaxation response. Care is always taken by the practitioner to keep the pace slow and measured and within the client’s comfort zone.
Playing with gravity is one of the most special aspects of working in water. Since the body is buoyant and assisted by floats, even the smallest of lifts can bring forth a sense of growth and supportive care. Feeling the water curl around your limbs and envelop your body again after rising out of the water helps the client sink deeper into relaxation. Gravity and lifting can also be used to mobilize the joints, strengthen stretches, and stabilize the receiver’s equilibrium after moments of turbulence, or when nearing the end of a session to assist in the process of grounding.
A myriad of the postures that are created during the flow of a session evokes a sense of openness and extension. This is fantastic for the shoulders, rib cage, and hips, and from an emotional and psychological perspective, some have reported feelings of freedom, power, flowering, and abundance.
These movements provide the receiver with a calm moment and a safe space to integrate anything the movement may have stimulated. It invites the receiver into themselves and connects with their breath while feeling the weight of the water evenly supporting their body. This can be created by utilizing the wall of the pool, or the therapist’s hands embracing a section of the body, for example: the shoulder girdle, the abdomen and the lower back, or even the temples to name a few. These maneuvers foster safety, wholeness, and a sense that what once was fragmented is unified.