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®?
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 a service you receive, and chiropractic and physical therapy as physical medicine professions that help you restore lost function. SI is primarily a somatic education approach designed to help you explore easier ways of moving and being in your body; nagging problems often work themselves out through this process.
The trademarked terms Rolfer® and Rolfing® are to be used only by graduates in good standing of the Dr. Ida P. Rolf Institute, though the public often uses these as the generic terms for SI. The Institute is one of nearly 20 SI schools approved by the International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI). I graduated from an IASI-approved program known as Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI) in 2013. ATSI was founded by Thomas Myers, an original student of Dr. Rolf and author of a popular book, Anatomy Trains.
Graduating from an IASI-approved program allowed me to sit for the Certification Exam for SI. Having passed this exam 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, existing within larger systems. 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 as you wish, or adapt to whatever comes your way. Through SI, we seek to explore and cultivate your physical and perceptive resources.
You might think of palintonicity as “three-dimensional expansion.” When you’re able to perceive your body as a whole, in relationship, and access movement in all three dimensions, then you’re able to inhabit your body in a way that is more fully aware and expressive. From this, a quality of resilience emerges. Well-integrated structures (be they physical, mental, or social) are stable, adaptable, and resilient.
In SI, there is closure to every technique, every session, and every series of sessions. Completion allows time to integrate the experience and sets the stage for ongoing growth. You integrate this work into the structure of your life—not just between sessions, but beyond them.