Planning sessions and what to expect
How many sessions should I receive?
Rolfers typically work in a series of sessions. The number of sessions depends in part on your goals as a client. I usually recommend seeing how you feel after one session if you’re unsure about setting up multiple sessions.
The classic series is the “Ten Series”, as developed by Dr. Rolf. With each session building on the one before, the Ten Series addresses the entire structure of the body systematically, allowing for any amount of variation to work with each particular client’s needs. There are natural stopping places within this series (after the first, third, and seventh sessions) for those clients who are unsure about committing to all ten.
Working within the framework of a Ten Series enables the Rolfer not only to address local problem areas, but to get at all the deep-seated compensations and interrelated issues that otherwise might continue to disrupt the body. And it provides the time necessary to allow for a deep and lasting reintegration of the whole body.
There are other options besides the Ten: A shorter series or a single session can be tailored to a client’s specific needs. While not as comprehensive as a series of ten, shorter series can still be of great benefit—and may sometimes be more appropriate.
How far apart should I schedule my sessions?
While sessions can take place a few days to a few weeks apart, the ideal is around one or two weeks apart. This strikes a balance between continuing the process and allowing the body and brain to settle into the changes in each session.
What should I wear for my session?
Here are some considerations when you’re getting ready for a session.
A Rolfing session typically begins and ends with a few minutes of visual assessment, where you’ll stand and walk around the room. Most clients bring underwear or other minimal clothing that they are comfortable being seen in, since it allows for a more detailed assessment. Some prefer to be more covered when they’re up off the table, and that’s fine too.
It’s also a good idea to refrain from using lotions just before a session—when your skin is too slick, it can sometimes make it more difficult to work with the right layers of your body.
It’s important that my clients are comfortable; please let me know if you have any concerns in this regard.
How long is a session?
Sessions are an hour. I leave time between clients and on occasion, if the work calls for it, we may go a few minutes longer. You may wish to plan accordingly.
Do you offer consultations?
I do. Consultations are free, and they give you a chance to talk over any concerns and questions you have and discuss what options might suit your goals. I frequently give a short hands-on demonstration for clients who want to get a sense of how Rolfing feels. Feel free to contact me to schedule a consultation, or just to ask a few questions.
Who should not receive Rolfing?
There are a number of conditions for which deep or firm touch is contraindicated. For many conditions, there are often levels and areas to work safely, but for some conditions, it’s best to avoid the disturbance of any level of touch. I discuss these on a client by client basis. For serious conditions, it’s important that a medical doctor be involved in making decisions.
And of course, consulting with your doctor is always recommended.
Potential clients should also be aware that I don’t claim that Rolfing is a cure-all. It’s tremendously successful in a lot of areas, and its effects on overall health can sometimes be surprising, but in no way does Rolfing replace the skills of other healing professionals.
Is Rolfing painful?
There’s a lot of confusion about Rolfing and painful work: Some people are worried that Rolfing may be very painful. Others believe that only painful work is effective work. (In 2010, The New York Times covered Rolfing with the headline “Rolfing, Excruciatingly Helpful”.)
Actually, Rolfing can be very comfortable and remain very effective. The contact covers a very wide range, from very gentle to quite firm. Occasionally it can feel more intense, but ideally not beyond the intense-but-good feeling you might get when you stretch.
A skilled bodyworker should know that working deeply doesn’t necessarily require firmer pressure, working on the surface isn’t necessarily light, and pain doesn’t necessarily correspond with either.
In fact, the more comfortable and able to participate the client is, the better able the body is to incorporate and coordinate change. I do not work beyond a client’s comfort level in any respect.
General questions about Rolfing
Why is it called Rolfing?
This work was the creation of Dr. Ida P. Rolf. She originally called her work “Structural Integration”. Out of deference and respect to her (and probably because it was shorter to say), Dr. Rolf’s students and clients began calling the process Rolfing. The name stuck, and Dr. Rolf went along with it. Since that time, the work has influenced bodyworkers worldwide, and a number of schools and disciplines currently teach people to do Structural Integration.
The words Rolfing® and Rolfer™ now legally distinguish only the work of graduates of The Rolf Institute, which Dr. Rolf founded. While other practitioners of Structural Integration also carry on in Dr. Rolf’s footsteps, I stick to those trademark names because they connect me to the reputation of the Rolf Institute and its members.
Who was Dr. Rolf?
Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D. (1896–1979) was a biochemist and the creator of Structural Integration, later called Rolfing, and a huge influence in the development of bodywork in general.
Dr. Rolf explored multiple forms of alternative healing in an effort to better understand the body, initially to help herself and her sons with health issues. In the development of Structural Integration, later to be called Rolfing, she drew from yoga, osteopathy, chiropractic, and other modalities.
The central focus of Dr. Rolf’s work was to see that the body’s organization in gravity is absolutely essential to order and health, and the connective tissues (fascia) play a crucial role in how ordered or disordered the body is at any time.
How is Rolfing different?
Many people come to Rolfing having worked with a massage therapist or chiropractor. The work of Rolfing is distinct from these modalities.
Rolfing works with connective tissue and coordination patterns in your body to bring about an ever increasing organization to your structure.
Massage therapy, including deep tissue massage, is distinct from Rolfing. In general, massage therapists are trained to focus on relaxation and release in the body, but not directly toward making structural change.
Often, people find relaxation of tense areas proves to be very short-lived when the underlying structure is left unaddressed. Rolfers work with the recognition that when organization of the body is improved, relaxation and release follow naturally.
Rolfing differs from chiropractic work by organizing the connective tissue that the spine (and everything else) is embedded in. Rather than focusing more directly on aligning bone, as most chiropractors do, a Rolfer makes shifts in the complex webs of fascia and muscle that suspend the bones of your body and shape their alignment. As these come into balance, your vertebrae (for example) follow and align naturally.
If you’ve been working with a massage therapist, chiropractor, physical therapist, orthopedist or other professional and want to learn more about how Rolfing compares, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Payment and insurance
What is your cancellation policy?
Please be mindful that I have a limited number of appointments available by making cancellations and rescheduling with at least 24 hours notice.
If you have an illness or emergency, contact me so a decision can be made about rescheduling your appointment.
You are responsible for 50% of my regular session fee for cancellations made less than 24 hours in advance. You will not be charged if I am able to fill the slot with another appointment.
If you miss your appointment without contacting prior, you are responsible for the full session fee.
Can I use my Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
Many clients use their HSA or FSA to pay for sessions. Please contact your provider and verify that Rolfing, Structural Integration, and/or massage therapy are approved for spending from your account.
If you will need a detailed receipt for documenting your HSA or FSA spending, please notify my in advance of your session.
How much do you charge?
Initial consultations are free of charge. Sessions are $180. I do not offer package discounts.
Do you take insurance?
If your insurance covers your sessions, you’ll pay for the session yourself, and have your insurance reimburse you. I can provide you with receipts to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.
If you plan on using insurance to cover the costs of your sessions, please call your insurance, verify your coverage, and let me know in advance your needs.
Check with your insurance company whether they cover Rolfing, Structural Integration, or massage therapy. Insurance that covers massage therapy also covers my work, since I am licensed as a massage therapist. Clients who are recovering after an automobile accident usually find that their auto insurance covers massage therapy. However, it is generally rare that health insurance plans will cover this work.
If you are planning on having your sessions reimbursed by your insurance, be sure to check whether a doctor’s prescription will be required.