About Thai Bodywork

Thai Bodywork Classes and Therapeutic Bodywork Clinic in Evanston, Illinois

Thai Bodywork is located in Evanston, IL, a vibrant and beautiful city just north of Chicago. Our programs are largely taught in a weekend intensive format, and there are no prerequisites to enter our program. We currently offer over 350 hours of Clinical Thai Bodywork trainings, approved for continuing education in massage by NCBTMB. CTB employs the techniques of traditional Thai massage in a sophisticated context of modern clinical theory. Our therapeutically-oriented classes focus on understanding the muscular effects of the techniques, and providing a deep understanding of the relationship of Thai massage to trigger point therapy.

"Truly the best and most enjoyable bodywork training I have attended. The DVD is a great complement to the training. Everyone I practice on comments 'that was great'" - Ecila, Level 1 student.

Our therapeutic Thai massage clinic provides affordable 90-minute student Thai massage treatments as well as student and professional Clinical Thai Bodywork sessions. CTB is a highly effective modality for relief of pain and dysfunction. Clinic booking is available online via our clinic page.

Studies have shown that over 80% of pain complaints presented at clinics are likely to be caused by muscular sources. Unfortunately, the medical system tends to interpret all pain as a symptom of an injury, and relies upon ineffective, side-effect-laden treatment approaches like drugs, steroid injections and surgery. CTB has a high rate of success with even very serious pain complaints.

"My session was amazing. The therapist was very knowledgeable and totally fixed my little finger pain." - Jerry, clinic client.


History of Thai Massage

  • Traditional Thai Massage, also called Thai Yoga Therapy, Nuad phaen boran or Nuat Thai, is a therapeutic technique that dates back thousands of years. Its precise origins are unknown, but practitioners traditionally trace their lineage to Jivaka Komarabhacca, also known as Shivago, who was a personal physician to the Sangha, a friend and physician to the Buddha and renowned as a healer in Buddhist tradition.

    Traditional Thai medicine is a natural, holistic approach to health and well-being, developed over thousands of years, which includes proper nutrition, physical exercise, the use of medicinal herbs and therapeutic massage. Traditional Thai medicine is not only concerned with curing diseases and ailments: its primary goal is maintaining health and well-being, as ancient Thais believed that "the absence of illness is the best blessing". The medical knowledge developed by Thai people through many generations has come to be known as the ancient wisdom of Thailand.

    Diagrams inscribed on the walls at the temple of Wat Po in Bangkok illustrate one of the fundamental principles of traditional Thai medicine: that energy flows through the body along ten major channels, or sen lines. If an obstruction occurs in any of these channels it is believed that pain or disease results. In this sense, traditional Thai medicine is similar to many other ancient healing systems, which believe that illnesses are caused by an imbalance or obstruction within the individual, or by an imbalance between an individual and his environment.

    Ancient Thais treated a number of ailments by using massage to restore the flow of energy throughout the body. Traditional Thai massage is a deep, full-body treatment, which includes both stretching of the joints and muscles and applied pressure to the sen lines.

    Historically, Thai massage has an energetic basis and does not target or identify specific muscles for treatment. Thai Bodywork teaches a deep repertoire of traditional Thai techniques, informed by the modern discipline of Clinical Thai Bodywork. This modality, originally developed by Chuck Duff and now being co-developed with Jennifer Wright, combines trigger point therapy and other western clinical approaches with the Thai techniques, resulting in a powerful formula for addressing conditions of pain and dysfunction. Chuck and Jennifer teach a number of CTB workshops as part of the Thai Bodywork program.

Thai Bodywork School History

  • Chuck was asked to teach, and opened Thai Bodywork School of Thai Massage in 2001. As the school has grown, Chuck has been grateful for a few people that have proven to be important collaborators. He met Betsy Trapasso, whose work was focused in hospice and helping the dying, and had studied to become a Thai Bodywork practitioner as an additional way that she could help people. Betsy came to Chicago from LA, and was instrumental in helping Chuck build the school to be a nationally known center for the study of therapeutic Thai bodywork until she returned to her beloved LA in 2010. Betsy is an internationally known advocate for end of life issues whose work has been covered in major media, including the LA Times, the New York Times, and TedX. She and Chuck continue to collaborate on bringing the benefits of Thai clinical work to a wider population.

    Chuck developed and taught the first course in Clinical Thai Bodywork in 2005 based on his work to date with trigger point therapy and using the Thai techniques in a targeted manner to address myofascial pain. He found that by employing the principles of trigger point therapy, his rate of success with clients increased dramatically. He met Mary Biancalana in 2006, a trigger point therapist and teacher who co-developed MyoPain Seminars with Sharon Sauer, and has spent many years as President of the National Association of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists (NAMTPT). Mary is co-author of Trigger Point Therapy for Low Back Pain. Chuck and Mary taught several of the CTB courses together, and Mary helped expand the CTB curriculum to multiple body areas. Chuck and Mary continue to collaborate closely and Chuck has been an invited speaker at several NAMTPT conferences.

    Jennifer Wright, a yoga instructor with an interest in bodywork, joined the school in 2009 and worked closely with Chuck to fully realize the CTB curriculum. She co-taught the CTB and Thai Bodywork classes with Chuck for several years, and developed the Regional and Functional Anatomy courses which she continues to teach. Chuck had been exposed to Ashtanga yoga in the 1990s with Richard Freeman and Tias Little, and Jennifer was instrumental in making Chuck aware of the therapeutic power of the Ashtanga practice, which he began adopting as his daily practice with her guidance. Jennifer and Chuck spent many years exploring the relationships between the disciplines of yoga, bodywork and trigger point therapy and these relationships deeply inform the Thai bodywork curriculum.


The Development of Clinical Thai Bodywork

  • CTB grew initially out of Chuck Duff's challenges in helping an early group of clients with severe, life-impacting pain issues and feeling that the traditional training left him without sufficient tools to target specific pain conditions effectively. Chuck came across Claire Davies' Trigger Point Workbook when it first came out and found it to be a revelation. He studied with Claire and then began applying the principles of trigger point therapy from Travell & Simons using the techniques of Thai bodywork. He began applying these ideas with great success with his clientele of musicians, athletes, dancers, yogis, and others who sometimes struggled unsuccessfully with serious pain conditions before having success with CTB.

    Chuck taught the first CTB course in 2005 at Thai Bodywork. He collaborated with Mary Biancalana (co-author of the Low Back Pain Workbook with Sharon Sauer) and began expanding the curriculum to focus specifically on individual body areas.

    In 2009, Chuck met Jennifer Wright, and they have collaborated on developing the CTB ideas and expanding the program to include a full certification track.