Sometimes people ask me what type of bodywork I do. Initially, during those first few years after I completed my basic Rolfing® Structural Integration training, I used to be very proud to tell people I was a Certified Rolfer®. When I started learning craniosacral therapy I would tell people I was a Certified Rolfer and I also practiced craniosacral therapy. When I started learning visceral manipulation, I said I was a Certified Rolfer who practiced craniosacral therapy and visceral manipulation. At some point, when I had more fully integrated those different modalities together, I said I was an osteopathic bodyworker. Now, I say that I listen to the body and work on whatever the body would like me to work on.
One of my teachers, Michael Salveson, explained in a workshop that when the wave of force generated by a car accident goes through your body, the wave does not care whether it’s going through your cranium, liver, intestines, nerves, blood vessels, bones or your muscles. Strain can be put in any tissue, anywhere in the body. So, if a bodyworker has a particular emphasis on a particular aspect of the body, the scope of their practice may be limited. If a car accident puts a tremendous amount of strain and restriction around the liver because of seatbelt trauma, a bodyworker that focuses primarily on joints may never fully resolve the problem in the lower thoracic spine and lower rib cage, because the primary strain is in and around the liver, not with the joints around the liver. Bodies are a continuum of tissue types, densities, sizes, shapes and relationships.
Studying different modalities in bodywork allows a practitioner the beginnings of how to work with various tissues in the body. However, I believe that the art of exceptional bodywork happens when the practitioner has the capacity to work on all the various tissues in the body, fluidly and seamlessly. And most importantly, the practitioner listens deeply to the body, following its innate wisdom about what needs to be worked on first, and in what order to perform the work that follows.
Most of the bodywork I employ comes directly from the osteopathic world, and especially from the work of Jean-Pierre Barral, DO, a gifted and incredibly creative French osteopath. His mantra during classes is often, “Listen and follow, listen and follow, listen and follow…” The work I learned from him and other teachers who have studied with him has become the backbone of what I practice. The other primary influences on my work are Didier Prat, an osteopath from Lyon, France; Jeffrey Burch, a Certified Advanced Rolfer and manual therapist from Eugene, Oregon; and Gail Wetzler a physical therapist from Denver, Colorado.