Ida P. Rolf, Founder of Structural Integration
Ida P. Rolf was born in 1896 in New York City. She graduated from Barnard Collage in 1916, and in 1920 received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. For the next 12 years, she worked at the Rockefeller Institute in the Chemotherapy and Organic Chemistry departments. Eventually, she attained an Associate rank.
In 1927, she took a leave of absence to study mathematics and atomic physics at the Swiss Technical University in Zurich. During this time, she also studied Homeopathic medicine in Geneva.
During the 1930s, Dr. Rolf was challenged with some personal and family health issues. Dissatisfied with standard medical treatments available, she sought alternative answers to these problems. Departing from the traditional modalities, Dr. Rolf explored Osteopathy, Chiropractic medicine, Tantric Yoga, the Alexander Technique, and Korzybski’s work on states of consciousness.
Her search for health and wholeness led to some fundamental
discoveries about the body, particularly the physiological properties of fascia, including its function and form. She was able to envision the connective tissue as a system in and of itself with particular structural and functional qualities.
This eventually enabled her to develop the method of bodywork now known as Structural Integration.
By the 1940s, she experienced breakthroughs with chronically disabled people who were otherwise not finding relief. In the 1960s Dr. Rolf joined psychologist Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt Therapy) and many other pioneers of the “Human Potential Movement” at the Esalen Institute in California. There she began training practitioners, and in 1967 the first Guild for Structural Integration was formed.
Until her death in 1979, Ida Rolf continually refined the techniques and educational programs, organized research projects, and published works to convey her experiential investigation into the direct intervention with the evolution of the human species.