About Us - The Dr. Vodder School - International
Robert Harris, CI, CLT-LANA, director and senior instructor.
When the topic of Manual Lymph Drainage is discussed, the first thought for many people is the Vodder method as it is the most widely known, researched and used method. The Dr. Vodder School teaches the original method of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD®) and has been authorized to do so by the Vodder’s themselves as well as the Dr. Vodder School in Austria.
The North American School was founded by Robert Harris in 1993 and the administrative office is located in Victoria, British Columbia. We teach classes throughout North America and many other countries.
To provide the highest quality education in the original Dr. Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage and Combined Decongestive Therapy and to ensure the continuing competence of practitioners trained by the Dr. Vodder School.
What makes our training program unique? Our motto is “Quality Training in Our Hands” which speaks to the emphasis we place on developing excellent hand skills in our therapists. It takes time to develop great hand skills that get excellent results and we do not take short cuts in our training program to achieve this. Our four-week program focuses initially on developing these hand skills and then the focus shifts to applications such as lymphedema. We teach the full Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) program for lymphedema management and much more during the 160 hours of classroom education, with a combination of theory lecture and practical lab. The program can be taken in one week segments, enabling therapists to incorporate work and study schedules.
Therapists who attend our courses come from many health care backgrounds, including physical and occupational therapists, nurses, registered or licensed massage therapists (with minimum entrance requirements), physicians and other related fields. The eclectic mix in our classes is conducive to a successful learning environment, providing a stimulating and cooperative approach amongst professions.
We bring the top lymphology researchers and professors to our courses. Our faculty includes Prof. Neil Piller and Prof. Horst Weissleder, two of the leading names in lymphology as well as Dr. Anna Towers, assistant professor at McGill University and chair of the Canadian Lymphedema Framework project. Professor Hildegard Wittlinger also attends many of our advanced courses in North America. The pathology part of our training is taught by a lymphologist or physician who specializes in lymphology and has years of experience treating patients with lymphedema and related conditions.
Another unique quality of the Dr. Vodder School is the teacher training program that has been in place for over 25 years. We select potential teachers from those who have excellent hand skills. Our teachers are all practicing therapists who have undergone thorough, specialized training to become certified teachers. This involves case presentations, assisting at classes and undertaking qualifying exams. Teachers are trained to teach at each level of the courses we offer to therapists, ensuring very high quality teaching. Their experience enables them to easily discuss and relate to therapists who attend our courses and they provide an empathic, caring environment for students to learn in. Our eleven current instructors travel throughout North America and other continents to teach this method.
Training good therapist is only part of the story. Our program has a desire and obligation to provide quality assurance to patients, physicians and other therapists who are seeking certified, up-to-date therapists. We achieve this by providing advanced courses to our therapists where they learn advanced skills for successfully managing lymphedema patients and other conditions. Topics such as Advanced Garment Fitting, Marnitz Therapy and Conscious Clinician are taught and therapists learn to use the latest methods and tools in lymphedema management. Patients can rest assured that a therapist listed on our website has attended an updating course within the past two years (or has completed their training program within the past two years) and will provide quality treatment.
Advanced updating courses have always been a part of the Dr. Vodder School program beginning with our first recertification (advanced class) for therapists in 1991 and every year since then.
The quality of our training is reflected in the quality of hand skills that our therapists develop. Patients often comment on the results attained with a Dr. Vodder School therapist and the reports from our therapists attest to this.
Tools for lymphedema management
To provide support for therapists and patients, we have also made newer technologies available to therapists.
A low-level laser device is also now available through the Dr. Vodder School. It is FDA approved in the USA for use with lymphedema patients. Research in Australia with double-blinded control studies has shown the efficacy of this treatment method as an adjunct to CDT treatment.
In the community
We have also been actively involved with the lymphedema community. The Dr. Vodder School has been a supporter of the National Lymphedema Network, Lymphovenous Association of Ontario and Lymphedema Associations of Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia. Robert Harris, the director of the Vodder School and Kathryn Thrift, a certified instructor, have both been active board members of the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA) since its inception. We are involved in supporting proactive legislation to provide cost-effective and accessible care for patients.
The Dr. Vodder School first brought Manual Lymph Drainage to the USA at a conference in New York in 1972, when Prof. Hildegard Wittlinger presented this unique method that affects the lymph system. We were the first to establish a training program in MLD/CDT in North America with classes in the late 1970’s. Classes have been taught since then in the USA and Canada by certified instructors, teaching the original Dr. Vodder method. We held the first complete training in CDT for lymphedema treatment in Vancouver, BC in 1993. Our School was officially founded that same year in North America. We now teach in many countries around the world and our full schedule can be seen on our website Schedule.
The Dr. Vodder School specializes in MLD applications, including but not limited to lymphedema management, enabling our therapists to provide a well-rounded approach to patient management. We have stayed true to the original Vodder method of MLD, as taught by the Vodder’s. The applications of MLD to pathologies have evolved. Dr. Asdonk in Germany, together with Guenther Wittlinger of the Dr. Vodder School in Austria developed the special MLD techniques that are used in numerous other applications today.
We are continually evolving and developing our program to meet the needs of therapists seeking quality education. Our innovation has supported and developed the field of lymphedema therapy in North America and around the world.