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Speaker Spotlight: Nancy Lawton-Shirley

Integrative Education is pleased to welcome Nancy Lawton-Shirley to the in-person portion of the 2023 Integrative Education Symposium! She will be presenting her one-day course, “Advanced Perspectives in Energy” on Friday, February 24th, 2023. Read on to learn how Nancy fell in love with body and energy work!

Discovering a New Path

After high school Nancy studied Child Psychology, graduating from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point. After graduating she got a job with a developmental learning center where she worked with children as part of a team. Over time she began to realize that the occupational therapists had a better understanding of the children than the rest of the team members and this intrigued her. Her passion for sensory processing was ignited and she decided to dive into the field, studying Occupational Therapy at the University of Minnesota. Upon graduating she fell in love with the field of pediatrics and has made this the focus of her career.

Finding Her Passion in Unexpected Ways

Nancy began her Occupational Therapy (OT) career in schools, working initially in Wisconsin before transitioning to working for St. Paul Schools. During this time, in the early 1980’s, Nancy’s two-and-a-half year old daughter had a stroke. Her daughter had some of the best therapists in the nation working with her after her stroke, but she did not respond to traditional therapy models including NDT or Sensory Integration. Nancy says her daughter would make small gains in areas, but then quickly lose them, which was a mystery to her and her practitioners. One day her daughter’s Physical Therapist (PT) came to her with an article on Myofascial Release and thought it was worth a try. Nancy and the PT attended a Myofascial Release course together and this ended up being crucial in her daughter’s response to therapy. Her daughter attended an intensive program that emphasized Myofascial Release and when she returned she was then able to respond to NDT, Sensory Integration, and Speech and Language services. Learning about Myofascial Release not only helped her daughter immensely, it also helped lay the foundation for Nancy’s exploration in body work and energy work techniques. It also encouraged her to open her own pediatric practice with her daughter’s physical therapist, as there was nowhere at the time for her daughter to receive therapeutic services. Together they ran their clinic, Special Children’s Center, for about 25 years. Eventually their clinic transitioned ownership and became a nonprofit. Nancy felt that was a natural time to consider retirement from the field..

A Place for Everyone

Nancy did not retire from OT, for, as she stated, “the universe had a different plan”. Nancy opened her current clinic, Points of Stillness, in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2010. Points of Stillness was opened on the concept of blending traditional and nontraditional therapy. The building was designed specifically for therapy with lots of natural light, varying room sizes and color palettes, and outdoor space. The outdoor space includes a healing garden, a labyrinth, and play space. It was important for Nancy to embrace and welcome any and all tools that could help individuals reach their highest potential. Points of Stillness offers OT and speech therapy services with accessibility to CranioSacral Therapy/Myofascial Release, neuro-wearables, light therapy, and a wide range of tools that can be integrated into traditional therapy models to accelerate client progress. They also have a salt water pool which is kept at a warm, therapeutic temperature. They offer programs for both adults and children at their clinic, working with individuals of all diagnoses including trauma, autism, anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain. Nancy still runs this clinic full-time and has a team of about 20 therapists.

Learning from the Best and Teaching from the Heart

As Nancy built her career in the field of OT, she has been able to connect with many great mentors along the way including Patti Oetter, who happened to be living in the same town as Nancy when she first started out. Patti, along with Eileen Richter and Patricia Wilbarger, ended up becoming great mentors to Nancy over the years. This group served as her inspiration in the field, primarily because they are so innovative and always on the cutting edge of OT. This appealed greatly to Nancy and she has now developed lifelong relationships with these amazing individuals. Nancy began teaching in the 1980’s when one of her mentor’s, Eileen Richter, asked her to present on CranioSacral work and its application in OT at Professional Development Programs (PDP) in Minnesota. Her teaching work has ebbed and flowed since then, but she continues to present on a variety of topics at the local and national level.

Nancy and Eileen also opened Camp Avanti St. Croix together with the blessings of Patricia Wilbarger. Nancy and Eileen ran the camp for over 20 years before it transitioned to another location. Camp Avanti is a special camp for children with sensory processing challenges. Nancy still supports Camp Avanti, including doing energy and body work with the children. However, at this time, she is not involved in the organization of the Camp. During the late 2010’s Nancy also worked with Red Thread Charities, a nonprofit that works with orphanages in China. Nancy traveled to China 8-9 times, working with special needs children. This served as a learning opportunity for Nancy as well, having to learn how to mentor and support individuals in a different culture with different perspectives. When asked about future goals, Nancy states that she will never give up treatment, but would like to step more into the teaching role as well.

Join Nancy at the Symposium!

Join Nancy in February when she will present her one-day course, “Advanced Perspectives in Energy” at the Integrative Education Symposium. This is an intermediate-level course that focuses on the complexities of the human body. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual layers provide energy that can be tapped into during bodywork. Discussion of our "energetic blueprint" and how to recognize what is being held and stored in our body will be taught. Additionally, Nancy will present on how to use our therapeutic use of self and how to show up and hold space for our clients by clearing our own energy field. Her course will include labs with some information on CranioSacral work, acupuncture points, and energy centers. Participants will walk away with tools they can use immediately following the course. Click here for more information on this course and to register today.


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