Osteopathic Manual Therapy FAQs

What is the difference between Osteopathy and Osteopathic Manual Therapy in Canada?

A note on the language of this section: In Canada, at the moment, the language of Osteopathy and Osteopathic Manual Therapy can be confusing for the average person. Technically, according to the laws of Canada, and the Canadian Medical Association, I am not to use the word Osteopathy, nor the word Osteopath, in describing any of the services I provide. The reason for this is that legally these terms represent the allopathic medical version of Osteopathy.  These terms refer to a medical doctor, who has trained in the States, and now lives and practices in Canada.  There are currently no medical Osteopathy school in Canada.  These types of Osteopaths learn some Osteopathic principles, operate from a perspective of disease, will prescribe pharmaceutical medicine and may or may not engage in Manual Therapy. Osteopathic Manual Therapy, teaches similar principles, operates from a perspective of health, and offers Manual Therapy treatment.  The services provided in Canada and the language I am ‘legally bound’ to use is Osteopathic Manual Therapy and Osteopathic Manual Therapy Practitioner. This is the realm of what some national and international resources refer to as “Classical Osteopathy”, the original Osteopathy.

You have every right to be confused – as – you will find the insurance companies you deal with will call my services Osteopathy, even though it is technically not the legally correct term. Until the political medical and therapeutic arena in Canada changes, you will always here me speak to you: Osteopathic Manual Therapy and Osteopathic Manual Therapy Practitioner. If we are in another country – we can use the language of Osteopathy and Osteopath.

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What is Osteopathic Manual Therapy aka Classical Osteopathy?

Osteopathic Manual Therapy, also known as Classical Osteopathy, is the practice of the original methods of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still.

Classical Osteopathy is a manual therapy, of sound rational principles. It was established by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still – the first, the original Osteopath – in 1874. Classical Osteopathy operates with the understanding of:

  • the inter-relatedness of structure and function in the body
  • a comprehensive knowledge and application of functional anatomy and functional physiology
    health based perspective
  • the body is a dynamic unit of function, ever changing
  • the person’s whole being is a dynamic unit of function, always changing
  • each treatment is accomplished through a unique application of principles, specific to the individual
  • every individual is a unique living system
  • every treatment is rational and logical
  • every treatment occurs according to the above principles

A useful analogy is “the practitioner of Classical Osteopathy is a mechanic, electrician and plumber of the body”.  The Classical Osteopath or Osteopathic Manual Therapy Practitioner, will work to return the structure of the individual’s body to their normal state (at a pace that supports and empowers their vitality and constitution), thereby improving function.  This manual therapy is implemented to address imbalance, to alleviate pain and suffering in individuals – to assist them in their restoration of health.

People who train in this, in Canada, complete a minimum 4year program (12 months each year) of intensive study, completing classes, manual therapy instruction and clinical hours to graduate. It is a similar training and practice to the original Osteopaths that relocated to Canada. The programs of this length, in Canada, are structured similarly to the original Osteopathic programs, prior to their change to allopathic medical schools.

Graduates of such programs in Canada cannot use the title Doctor. Instead you will see the title Osteopathic Manual Therapy Practitioner (or some variation). They graduate with either an MOMSc (Masters of Osteopathic Manual Science) or a DOMP (Diploma of Osteopathic Manual Practice), even though their program is the length of a PhD or Doctorate.

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What can you expect in an Osteopathic Manual Therapy journey?

You will begin your journey with a detailed comprehensive intake session. This intake session is 1 hour to 1 hour and 15min in length. You will have forms to fill out, providing your current reason for coming, your health history and your personal goals for treatment. It is ideal – if you would like to maximize time together, to complete the forms before coming to the session. The first and often larger part of the session is a discussion where we elaborate on the information you provided – obtaining more details important to my subjective understanding of you. The last portion of the session is my objective understanding of you – a full body general treatment where I have an opportunity to determine ‘what moves and what doesn’t move’.

Please note: if you have a complex chronic illness – we may take a longer time with the subjective portion; and separate the objective portion to another time.

In following sessions, we will proceed with half hour or 45 minute treatments, depending on the complexity of your situation. Often times, acute situations – those situations which are newly occurring can have change for the better within 3 – 5 sessions.

There are also times where emergencies occur and/or given what you are moving through we may need to see you more than once during a week. In either of these scenarios, often a 15minute appointment will effect the necessary movement forward.

What do you need to do to prepare?

Please arrive on time. If you are going to be late, it is respectful to call and inform us. Both offices have a 24hr cancellation policy with a late cancellation/no show fee. If you arrive 15min late to a 30min appointment, you will not be seen, and you will be charged for a full appointment. I will always do my best to be on time. Occasionally, we have an emergency with a client, and your appointment will be delayed from 5 – 15min. If this occurs, you will be informed that I am behind schedule.

You will be fully clothed during a session. For your comfort and to ensure we can do all that is needed – it is best if you can wear loose clothing – or – bring clothing with you that you can change into.

In both offices, we support a scent free environment. Please do not wear any perfumes or colognes. To the best of your ability, please, wash your clothes in scent free detergent and hair with scent free shampoo. Medical grade essential oils (not perfume oils) can be worn.

Also…do not be surprised if you start noticing ‘strange/weird’ things happening in your body 24-48 hours prior to your appointment. This is your body speaking to us.


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What does an Osteopathic Manual Therapy treatment look/feel like?

This session is a manual therapy session – meaning – your body will be moved passively (the practitioner will move it without your help) or actively (the practitioner will ask you to move). You may be placed in several different body positions – standing, sitting or lying down. As well, many approaches will be used within those two realms – to effect exactly what you need for change.

Many people find an osteopathic manual therapy session relaxing. They also find they feel much better leaving compared to when they arrived.

Is it painful?

This is an interesting question I am often asked – as pain has a very large component that is subjective. That is, some people have a high pain tolerance – meaning they need to feel a large amount of pain sensation before they consciously ‘feel’ pain. And, some people have a low pain tolerance – meaning they will consciously ‘feel’ pain at much lower levels.

You can be sure that the practitioner will find sore spots ‘you didn’t even know you had’. For people with chronic pain, organ pain or neurological pain … you may feel pain at different times during the session. With this type of experience, many clients refer to it as ‘good pain’. What they mean by this is that they feel pain when contact is made (or an action occurs) and then the pain goes away – and – they feel better than they did when they first came in.

What about after the treatment?

You will be processing your osteopathic manual therapy treatment for 1 – 3 days following the treatment, dependent upon your internal capacity. Some people integrate and process treatments quickly, and some people take a little longer. Sometimes, when we are in a ‘flare up’ within a chronic situation, sensations may linger for longer than the 3 days. This is often the time where we will get you in a second time during a week. This can also occur with certain acute injuries.

During these 1 – 3 days, some people feel worse before they feel better. Then – the better they feel is often better than prior to treatment.

What is integrating and processing?

This is your body’s work with the treatment. The osteopathic manual therapy practitioner is the mechanic, plumber and electrician. Their job is to get the tissue that isn’t moving – in the ‘right’ place and moving again. Once this occurs, your body begins the big effort of your self regulation and self healing. The body is making sure that all other parts, tissues and systems of the body are now working in relation to the parts that were changed in the session. Also, your body will be bringing the nutrients and building blocks in to the area – to nourish the tissues and repair any tissues needing repair. As well, as circulation is improved, your body is also moving all the wastes and by-products (toxins) that built up in the area, bringing them to all the organs to be removed from the body. This is known as detoxification.

What can I do to help myself after a treatment?
Here are some suggestions people receive benefit from:

  • Have a 20-30 minute therapeutic walk later in the day, after treatment. A therapeutic walk means: you are walking without bags (and without dogs pulling on a leash 😊); you are swinging your arms in relation to your legs moving; you are breathing in relation to your legs moving; you are moving at a pace that is comfortable and challenging at the same time.

    If you want to know more about why a walk helps – ask Sandi.
  • Hydrate well before and after treatment. Be sure you are getting the water you need for your body/being. If you are having coffee, green tea, black tea or alcohol – make sure you are having a minimum of two glasses of water to replace the dehydrating effects of these drinks.

    If you want to know more about hydrating – ask Sandi.
  • Rest if you need it – and/or – go to sleep early. Many people sleep very well the night of an osteopathic manual therapy treatment. If you feel tired earlier than usual – allow yourself the opportunity to go to sleep. Some people, especially those with chronic pain or chronic illness, may feel they need a nap following treatment. If this is the case, try setting your alarm for 45min (a cognitive cycle) or 90min (a full sleep cycle).

    If you want to know more about why sleep helps – ask Sandi.
Are Osteopathic Manual Therapy treatments covered by Insurance Company benefits?

The initial answer is yes. At the current time in Ontario, insurance coverage through benefits does cover Osteopathic Manual Therapy with practitioners associated with the OOA/OstCan. Not all Osteopathic Manual Therapy programs or practitioners are covered in Ontario. The reason is that up until recently there was great variation in training and programs. Coverage is now limited to specific, well designed programs (like the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy). You will have to look at your plan – and ask good questions to know exactly what your coverage is. Be aware that sometimes benefits will cover only a portion of your treatment. Since Osteopathic Manual Therapy is self regulated, times of sessions vary, as does pricing between practitioners. Therefore, you might find that a practitioner providing a 15minute treatment is charging the same fee as someone providing a 30minute treatment. My clients experience so far, has been that the insurance companies pay attention to total price and not length of time for treatment. Be a conscious consumer of your services. Ask good questions of your insurance companies and good questions of your practitioners. Be sure you are getting a service that works best for you.

I do not offer direct billing. If you are using your benefits – you will pay for your session, submit your receipt to your insurance company and receive reimbursement from your insurance company.

What do I do if I don’t have benefits?

For those who do not have insurance coverage/benefits, and need assistance with finances, I offer a Co-Creative Payment Plan.


I offer this because I was once in your place.

I offer this because I believe in you.

offer this because, as a Traditional Indigenous Medicine practitioner, I believe we need to do the work when ‘the time is ripe’ – and – I understand there are many ways to the same end.

I offer this because I believe and know the full support of the universe.

I offer this because I previously tried barter, exchange and free services – and – the way some humans are in current society, this doesn’t work any longer.

I have had people who have not completed their agreements. This hit home when I once had a family emergency to attend to. The only people who complained, or created difficulties when I had to change appointments, were the people who were not paying money for services. Therefore, upon reflection and consultation with Elders and the Ancestors, the Co-Creative Payment Plan was born.

How do we do this with Osteopathic Manual Therapy?

  • We have an intake session to determine what your needs are.
  • We come to a mutual decision on how many sessions you will need to get you on your way to health or accomplish your current goals.
  • I provide you a monetary value for the number of initial sessions we agree on.
  • You provide me with an amount for what you can pay – and the timeframe you will make your payment. For example: you can pay me $20 every two weeks, or you can pay me $15 once a month.
  • We agree on the dates, each month, for your payment. You pay on those dates, each month, until the balance is paid in full. There is no service charge, no interest charge and no late fees charge.
  • You will pay me directly in the method we agree upon, as I will be covering the clinic costs for each appointment.
  • You can pay the full amount at any time. As well, if you find the payments are too much, you can change the payment amount with notice.

It is important as you are deciding on what you can pay – that you come to an amount which allows you to be financially stable – that is – you can meet all your necessities and all your expenses (for you and your loved ones). You must choose an amount that works easily for your budget. Doing so – you will be ensuring the full abundant flow of the universe for all involved.

I believe in this work. I believe in you. I know that when we have you in a better place, you will be more than able to change your financial situation. My hope is you believe in you, and you allow this as an option for you, when it is necessary.