Who Does it Help?
Many people initially stumble upon SI because they're looking for a solution to chronic pain or discomfort. But since this work is about exploring your potential for awareness and vitality, even the healthiest people can benefit.
"Is Structural Integration like Massage, Chiropractic, or Physical Therapy? Is it the same as Rolfing®? What's this BCSI thing?"
These are common questions. Here are my short answers to each of them:
- SI, massage, chiropractic, and physical therapy are all about helping people feel better, so they do share some aspects. You might think of massage as primarily a self-care service, and chiropractic and physical therapy as physical medicine professions. SI has elements of both. I consider SI as primarily a somatic education practice, with allied health profession leanings, and some elements of a wellness service.
- The trademarked terms Rolfer® and Rolfing® are to be used only by graduates in good standing of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, though the public often uses these as the generic terms for SI. The Rolf Institute is one of nearly 20 SI schools approved by the International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI), one of which I graduated from (Kinesis/KMI, now known as Anatomy Trains SI).
- Graduating from an IASI-approved program allowed me to sit for and pass the Certification Exam for SI, which allows me to display the Board Certified Structural Integrator (BCSI) certification mark. Practitioners who choose to earn and maintain this mark exhibit a degree of public accountability, professional integrity, and client-centered commitment.
A Principles-Driven Approach to Manual Therapy & Somatic Education
Structural Integration is not a technique, but rather a principles-driven approach to manual therapy & somatic education. Just about any technique or modality can be applied, if it's in service of these principles. The principles, as I interpret them (based on the five principles of Rolfing® Structural Integration by Maitland, Sultan, & Salveson, 1992) are:
Humans are complex biological, psychological, and social events. Each human is a whole system unto themselves, and systems are the nexus between structure and function. The result of an intervention is determined by your current state as a whole person, and the context of your life at that time. Integration is a quality of systemic coherence reflected in the structure and function of your whole being.
For an intervention to be effective, your system must have sufficient resources available to support the change. When you're well-resourced, you're well-supported, and stability emerges. From stability, functional ease manifests. The resulting efficiency, in turn, makes resources available for ongoing stability. A well-integrated system is efficient and self-regulating.
Functional ease refers to the quality of adaptability: your capacity to engage and respond to the various stressors of life. When your system is well-integrated, you are free to resource its stability to engage life however you wish, or adapt to whatever comes your way. Through SI, we seek to explore and enhance your physical and perceptive structural resources.
One way to consider how you inhabit your body, is in 3 spatial dimensions: up/down, left/right, front/back. When you have integrated your awareness of these aspects into your perceptual structure, then you are able to move in a way that is well-supported, stable, and adaptable. When these factors are present, a quality of resilience emerges. Well-integrated physical, mental, and social structures are stable, adaptable, and resilient.
Allowing your system time to integrate an experience provides support for continued progress. In this way, completion sets the stage for ongoing growth. It's about integrating your experience with SI into the structure of your life - not just between your sessions, but beyond them.