The Rolf Method of Structural Integration
Often, through postural habit and repetitive motion, our bodies become stiff or experience pain. The fascia, which runs through the entire body, through all the muscles, bones, organs, tends to contract or bunch up in order to support those habits. With the work of structural integration, there is opportunity for the fascia to open so that new options for movement and relief of pressure can occur.
Developed through the 1950’s by Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D., structural integration, often known by the term “rolfing,” is a form of hands-on therapy in which the practitioner contacts the client’s fascial body to encourage more order and alignment with the tissues, muscles, bones and to improve one’s relationship with gravity. The client’s proprioception, or felt sense awareness, is the key in this process. Not a passive therapy, sessions often include subtle movement and postural retraining.
The work of structural integration occurs in ten sessions. Each session has specific intentions to attend to certain parts of the structure. The first seven sessions focus on differentiation of tissues, while the final three sessions serve to integrate the now differentiated tissues with the entire structure and in movement. For those interested, sessions beyond the ten-series are available for continued support.
Ideal candidates for this work will have some familiarity with modes of body or energy work and be familiar with some form of mindfulness practice, be it meditation, yoga, psychotherapy, etc. Many people find this method after some length of search to improve their bodily structure, relieve chronic pain, or gain more options for movement and stability. The potential for profound change can be better accessed when the client has support and practice in place to adjust with the new perceptions of the body’s reality, internally and through space.