The Terzi Method

“In our continuous back and forth in the outside world, we do nothing more than reasoning, pretty good actually, with our feet” – Ida Terzi


The creator of the Terzi’s Method 
Ida Terzi was born in Parma on January 21st 1905. She became primary school teacher and later got a specialization in typhlology in Rome. She started her research activity in Reggio Emilia in 1925. The first formulation of the Method started during that period and continued with the activity carried out in Milan at the Institute for Blinds and at the Institute of Psychiatry at the University. 

In 1958 she published the first results of her investigations on the scientific magazine Acta Neurologica. In 1985 She funded the A.I.R.M.T. association that, respecting her will, would carry on the development and the researches of the Method. In 1995 she finished to write the book “The Spatial-Temporal Method” published by Ghedini. She died on September 15Th 1997.

The Terzi Method
The Terzi Method is a system on sensomotor and deambulatory exercises that increases the ability of integrating the spatial-temporal information reaching the Central Neuro Sistem from different sensory channels; it helps to exercise the integration of information related to our body and to the external space. It eases the perceptual coherence and the transition from a subconscious to a conscious use of the moving body. The Method facilitates the mental imaging through analytic and synthetic processes. It operates on the mental motor imaging, in first and third person, and on the learning abilities. For its characteristics, the Terzi’s can be defined as cognitive-motor methodology.

In every exercise a “lived experience”, followed by a “representation” phase, is required. These two are capital aspects of the method.
The “lived” phase is executed in first person by the subject.
In the “representation” phase, the subject is asked to reproduce on the therapist (for the exercises on the body scheme) or on a plasticine tablet (for the exercises on the extra- personal space) what the subject has performed blindfold few minutes before.
The representation allows to point out the consciousness degree and the capability of information integration on different levels.

Theoretical Background
The Method was born in the years when nothing scientifically proved was known about spatial mental representations. Ida Terzi’s great analytical ability and sharp previsions, supported by the data available at that time, made the Method come true. Throughout the years the Method remained true to itself, but the theoretical background on which it is based grew incredibly.
In the last years, the neuroscience gave us interesting data on the personal and extra- personal space organization. Moreover they addressed the attention toward the motor mental images. Scientific data gave us the strong theoretical basis for the method application.

The treatment is usually individual, only in exceptional cases a small group is formed. Exercises are presented to the subject in a vast, clear and quiet space, with suffused lights, in order to focus his/her attention on the somatosensitive information.
For the same reason, exercises are performed bare feet and blindfold. There are different categories of exercises: the basic ones are addressed to the representation of the body scheme (or personal space), the peripersonal and far extra- personal space. Other exercises are finalized to the development and the rehabilitation of the different cognitive functions.

Fields of application
Rehabilitation in development and in adult age.
The treatment is placed in a holistic dimension: through the movement of the body in the space, it is possible to specifically intervene on the motor mental images, in first and third person, and on the learning process.
Different cognitive functions are significantly involved: attention, work memory and executive functions, to mention the most important.
The spatial temporal reorganization produces functional improvements which influence different activities in the daily life.
During the development age: dyspraxia and spatial temporal organization disturbs, language and learning (dyslexia, disorthography) specific disturbs, grapho motor disturbs and disgraphia.
During the adult age: deficit in the spatial temporal organization due to focal damage (especially right side), outcome of serious acquired cerebral lesions, Parkinson’s syndrome.

The Method was introduced in the working programmes of some kindergarten, primary and junior high schools in order to especially stimulate the organization of the spatial thinking and of the mental imaging.
Spheres of utilization: reading and writing pre requirements, phonological and metaphonological processes of the verbal language, spatial organization of italics reading and writing, aritmetichs, geometry.

Terzi Method applied to the grapho-motor disturbs and disgraphia
The treatment of grapho motor disturbs and disgraphia is possible by using some specific area of the Terzi Method connected with:

Personal Space
Body Posture: assuming and maintaining a symmetric position of the two halfs as regards to the body axis; position perception and function of the active and leaning arm; correct inclination of the trunk during the writing performance Pen Handling: consciousness of the finger and wrist motor possibilities, identification of new motor patters, at first independently exercised, later on integrated to obtain a correct pen handling and learn the movements (incision, inscription and progression) to automatize during the hand writing. 

Peripersonal and far extra-personal space

Graphic space: spatial organization of the paper

Handwriting: letter mental representation and transition to the correct grapho motor scheme. This is achieved through the spatial temporal geometric analysis of every alphabet-graphic symbol in italics. Followed by its blindfold ambulatory construction and the subsequent reproduction of the mental image of the letter on the wall with ample arm movements. Sight exclusion in the “lived” and “representation” phase helps the child by reducing the complexity of information that need to be elaborated. This allows the patient to focus on the somatosensitive information. 

The following steps will bring the child to the letters graphic representation in elliptic schemes and in the squared maths exercise paper.
The teaching of the letters does not follow the alphabetical order but an order that groups them as regards of the spatial geometrical analysis and of the movements that characterize the graphic scheme. 

The Method is disseminated through theoretical-practical training courses in which all the phases of the work that will subsequently be carried out with the child are experimented.

Iolanda Perrone, Speech-terapist, Senior teacher Terzi Method, Member of COMITATO GARANTI Terzi method Associazione Italiana Ricerche Metodo Terzi – – november 2020