PT Classroom - Zero Balancing Benefits Physical Therapy Clients ׀ by Karen Senffner, MA, PT and Zero Balancing Teacher


Karen Senffner, MA, PT has been certified in Zero Balancing (ZB) since 1996. She has been a physical therapist for more than 20 years and currently works part-time teaching ZB and practicing as a home-health PT. Karen trained to be a Zero Balancing instructor with ZB founder, Dr. Fritz Smith and teaches ZB I, ZB II, Alchemy of Touch, Geometry of Healing, Freely Movable Joints and Review Days. She is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago, IL and De Paul University in Chicago, IL. She earned a Master’s degree in Holistic Medicine and was one of the founding members of Dr. Herbert Benson’s Behavioral Medicine Institute’s first affiliate at Mercy Medical Center in Chicago, IL. Her holistic approach to healthcare includes training in Hakomi Body-Centered Psychotherapy, yoga, mindfulness meditation and breathwork, guided imagery and massage therapy.

Zero Balancing Benefits Physical Therapy Clients

Zero Balancing (ZB) has given me a skill to use with my clients who don’t necessarily respond to a straightforward physical therapy approach. With Zero Balancing, I feel I can address the whole person within the limitations of my P.T. schedule. Sessions are done in 20 to 40 minutes with the client assessed first seated and then in supine position and the whole session is done with the client fully clothed. A protocol is taught which is used during each session to assess and evaluate the pelvic girdle, the hips, the feet, the shoulder girdle, and the cervical spine.

One of the hallmarks of Zero Balancing is being able to touch a client’s physical body and energetic body simultaneously where they meet, a place we call “Interface”. Using the physics of light, where light is described as both particle and wave (or structure and energy), ZB uses a model of the human body as having both a structural and energetic form. The physical body is something well known to us as P.T.’s; in Zero Balancing, we focus on the skeleton. The energy body may not be an area Physical Therapists feel as comfortable addressing. In Zero Balancing, we define the energy body as movement, flow, tension, vibration, force; even thoughts and beliefs can be considered energy forms. In the body, structure meets energy at the joints. The joints allow physical structure to translate into movement. If the client is balanced in her structure and energy, movement happens freely, easily, effortlessly and pain-free. If there is restriction or imbalance, movement requires more effort, more force, more strain and may be painful.

A metaphor we use in Zero Balancing is the sailboat. In this metaphor, the sail is the structure and the wind is the energy. When the sail is tacked properly, the boat moves easily, swiftly, freely over the water and is able to be steered with accuracy. If the sail is not tacked properly, there is strain, flapping, inability to control the boat. With our clients, the ability to give them a 20 minutes session and improve their joint mobility, release muscular tension, give them more freedom of movement, more ease, less pain and a feely of well-being allows them to move towards health and wholeness.

Zero Balancing has given me the ability to relieve some of my most difficult clients’ symptoms and opened the door to health. It has allowed me to practice P.T. for more than 20 years and not feel I have strained my own body when doing manual therapy with clients. It has taught me clarity of touch and the ability to engage with my clients in a clear, grounded, healthy way where I finish my day energized and not feeling depleted.

I feel every therapist can benefit both professionally and personally from learning Zero Balancing. In my own life, it has made me a better physical therapist and a healthier, happier person. For more information on Zero Balancing, please visit or review the article in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine by Duncan et al. "Employee Use and Perceived Benefit of a Complementary and Alternative Medicine Wellness Clinic at a Major Military Hospital: Evaluation of a Pilot Program.

“A deeper understanding of the relationship of body energy to body structure leads to a broader comprehension of human potential, health & wholeness.” Fritz Smith, M.D., Founder of Zero Balancing


Last revised: March 10, 2012
by Karen Senffner, MA, PT

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