"I started going to see Dr. Rivi Har-El for a shoulder injury. When I started seeing her it was simply as a physical therapist, but Dr. Rivi is so much more than just a physical therapist. She introduced me to the world of body-mind work, visualization and dance-movement therapy, as well as the entire world of alternative therapies in general. With a degree in dance therapy, as well as physical therapy, Dr. Rivi is able to connect the body and the mind to help them work in concert. She not only played a vital role in my ability to shed 50 pounds and a live healthier and happier life, she also helped me pursue my new career of helping other through alternative therapies. Dr. Rivi makes each and every one of her patients feel as though they are her only patient, and she really puts her whole heart and soul into the treatment. She makes you feel special and important everyday."
MA, LPC, LMHC, LCAT
"Rivi Har-El is an exceptionally gifted physiotherapist, superbly trained and elegant. She is a seasoned practitioner, with vast clinical experience and a profound understanding of both body and mind, with something to offer every sort of patient, and at every point in the life cycle.
But she is also much more than that - a true healer who knows practical solutions to their immediate issues, but also touches the heart of each patient, to help them focus on the roots of their problem and developing personal mastery over by finding a pathway to their longer term well-being."
Ernest Drucker, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Family and Social Medicine
Montefiore Medical Center
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- The Body is Somebody Who is Never Addressed -
"Well, probably not never—but it can feel that way after a few months of passing over the massage tables of multiple massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors who offer to relieve and re-educate a body newly limited by post-operative realities (in my case a spinal laminectomy), as well as old habits now suddenly and starkly revealed as uncomfortable and burdening. Not that these practitioners were not gifted and helpful: One of the best massages came from a therapist who attacked my sore muscles like a downhill Olympic ski course. It was athletic and inspiring and tension- and pain-dissolving, and as I lay, somewhat awed, on her board after the finale, she said, before prescribing some exercises and postural changes, "Now I have made you a new man."
If only. For better or for worse, I am one for whom advice about the body, no matter how helpful, has trouble sticking. This truth has seemed an embarrassing, somewhat guilt-imbued fact; I would try, but programs I was told to follow, like garments that didn’t fit me, simply fell off after a couple of weeks—my body, as if deaf, is not good at following external direction. Enter Dr. Rivi Har-El.
I was surprised, at first, by what seemed to me the initial cautiousness and delicacy of Dr. Rivi’s physical therapy. After all, we are conditioned by the pressures of a huge modern city, the clanking and moaning of its garbage trucks, the shoving and crowding of its rush hour. If in the stance of our bodies our reactions weren’t fairly robust, where would we be? So interrogatory and delicate little pushes and shoves at the opening of a session with Dr. Rivi felt beside the point and hopelessly inadequate for the task. But little by little my body informed me that Dr. Rivi, rather than subjecting me to a muscular, can-do routine, was starting by asking questions through touch, by releasing a series of small, radar-like moves that helped reveal to her the contours of my situation. This continued as she moved around me, limb by limb, until she began to focus on a particular aspect of my body to reach in—I don’t know how else to express it—to press on a joint or elongate and turn a muscle as if to show and encourage it to try out a movement or an unaccustomed position; what is happening to a shoulder or hip may become forceful and intense, but there always seems to be an element of suggestion present.
This attitude and the silent voice of her physical explorations are, I think, why I can hear Dr. Rivi’s advice so well. A session with her involves learning about possibilities and places in my own body that I had no idea were there, and which make me interested and eager for growth. I’ve tried to understand why so little resistance develops in me in relation to what Dr. Rivi wants, and I’ve come up with two reasons: First, I imagine that the body is something like a wild animal, always suspicious and doubtful about real change, and that the delicacy, sensitivity and authority of Rivi’s method establishes trust and an internal willingness to consider new things. Second, what she does through her physical dialogue with my body reveals enough to make me experience movement differently, and realize that, on the scale between Nureyev and Frankenstein’s monster I am far closer to the latter than I want. And that provides motivation: who wants to be a 12-note xylophone when you could be a piano?
Rivi's office feels something like a deliberate oasis in the turbulence of New York. As if a person could make a stand against desensitizing tumult. At first I thought this quixotic—but who knows? I know she has succeeded in altering one small piece of the city—me."
Editor and Artist
"My name is Kelly Hall-Tompkins and I am a professional violinist in New York. I have worked with physical therapist Rivi Har-El on numerous occasions over the last seven years and her treatments have helped me immeasurably. During the most serious episode when I first met Dr. Har-El, I was suffering from a repetitive motion injury. Most of the specialists that I went to tried to simply diagnose the condition with an official name, but did not ultimately heal it. Rivi Har-El worked with me from the beginning by tactilely feeling for the alignment/misalignment and inflammation of tissue. She primarily worked with her hands to mobilize joints, muscles and tendons which were causing the situation. In addition to hands on modalities, she employed various electronic modalities to the area magnet, heat, massage etc. Dr. Har-El also taught me exercises which not only helped to strengthen and correct my muscles during that particular injury, but continue to maintain and prevent relapses of many overuse conditions. I am very grateful for Rivi Har-El because my violin-playing career is very important to me and she has helped me tremendously in maintaining my body in peak physical condition. Additionally, her positive outlook, spiritual manner and combined with her precision and skill make her one of the best medial professionals I have ever worked with."
Concert Violinist and Soloist for Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway