Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Is Structural Integration the same as Rolfing?

As the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute works extremely hard to de-mystify structural integration and make it a more common practice, individuals are often confused by what this therapy is actually called. For the average household, everyone understands about physical therapy and massage treatment for when we talk about therapy for the physical body, or the most prevalent kinds of manual therapy. The number of people who heard about, and or received the Rolfing ® or Structural Integration Method and know about it is just a fraction of the amount of people who have hear of and/or participated in physical or massage therapy. The terminology is tricky, and even within the physical therapy community, the word for Rolfing or SI is whatever word the college uses for their graduates. Essentially, it is not standardized. It is not only the general public that has a lack of knowledge about Structural Integration or Rolfing ®.  Even when it comes to the medical community, they are also in the dark as to what SI really is, and the benefits it can have when it comes to physical rehabilitation. So how can the confusion and terminology be redefined? 

For those who practice the Rolfing® or Structure Integration method, professionals graduating from the Rolf Institute ®, Rolfing ® is a trademarked and reserved word. Either RolfingTM, RolferTM or RolfedTM may at any moment be used by anyone with a practice in any of the other Structural Integration Schools. As for the Structural Integration process, Rolfing ® is essentially a brand name. 

Dr. Rolf initially called her job Personal Structural Integrity and established a Guild to teach professionals. She worked at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur in California in the 1960s and taught her methods. The Esalen Institute was at that moment the center for the human movement, where fresh concepts such as eastern philosophy, yoga, meditation, Gestalt etc. were explored.


Those who explored these fresh thoughts were sidelined at the moment, and people did not respect their ways or conventions all that well. People who recieved help from Rolf started describing their experience as Rolfed, as Dr. Rolf seemed not to be too soft in their sessions but the treatment worked very well. Dr Rolf initially resisted this informality but eventually became more complimentary than impertinent, and started using the terminology herself. In 1972, she founded the Boulder Colorado Rolf Institute for Structural Integration and registered Rolfer ® and Rolfing ® as Rolf Institute Service marks. Now you have to train at the Rolf Institute in order to call yourself a Rolfer ® legally or what you do as Rolfing ®.

Several senior educators and administrators left the Structural Integration Guild in 1990 to preserve the cleanliness of the fundamental ten-series recipe teaching by Dr. Rolf. Guild graduates or any of the other colleges teaching the ten series call themselves structural integration practitioners. Thus, Rolfing ® is an institutional word while structural integration is a generic word.