Just before her death, Dr. Rolf said that within 15 years of her passing, she envisioned three different schools of thought coming out of her work. One would primarily focus on the physical / structural. One would focus on the psychological. And one would focus on the spiritual.
I don’t know whether she thought her work would be embraced and integrated into established medical, psychological and religious / spiritual schools and programs, or whether she envisioned these emerging SI tracks as stand-alone disciplines. But the takeaway for me is that she intentionally left it to us – her students – to define, evolve and integrate this work into those larger communities.
While her projection of the timeline was off – she died in 1979 – Dr. Rolf was accurate in her assessment that her work would be integrated into other disciplines. And this transition is both affirming and troubling for many of us who knew her.
My personal journey of discovery – and the therapeutic focus of my work and teaching over the four decades since her death – has primarily been to integrate the movement, energetic and spiritual aspects of this work.
I have never sought to fit into the standard Western medical model, nor in the therapeutic massage or physical therapy systems. I have never tried to define SI as a set of therapeutic protocols specified designed to fix backs. And I am not at all interested in fitting into our current insurance-based medical system with its own ICD9 codes.
As Dr. Rolf expected and encouraged, other practitioners and teachers have very different emphases in their work. And in no way am I trying to express or assign a hierarchy of value to these different focuses. But I want to acknowledge how difficult it is to create a standardized definition of SI and its intent.
As we struggle to define ourselves as a stand-alone modality, and to set educational standards, credentialing and licensing requirements, it is my sincere hope that we do not lose our diversity of philosophy and practice. I believe that diversity is a primary strength, and that it continually pushes us to expand and integrate our work. I fear that if we lose it, we risk losing what attracted all of us to Structural Integration in the first place.