A Portrait – Dr. Ida Rolf

The term Rolfing® comes from Dr. Ida Pauline Rolf, born 1896 in New York. At the age of 24, she was one of the first women in the United States to earn a Ph. D. in biochemistry from the College of Physiotherapy and Surgery at the University of Colombia. For the next 12 years she worked at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University), initially in chemotherapy and later in organic chemistry. In 1927 she went to Europe and studied mathematics and atomic physics at the Technical University of Zurich. During this time she also studied homeopathic medicine in Geneva.

Back from Europe she spent her time in the 1930s finding answers to personal health questions for herself and her family, because the available medical possibilities did not seem adequate to her. She explored  Osteopathy, Yoga, Alexander-Technik und Alfred Korzybskis work on states of consciousness.

In the 1940s Dr. Ida Rolf worked in Manhattan. She saw herself connected to the scientific point of view, but she achieved many breakthroughs in her work with chronic symptoms in an intuitive way. During this time she coined the term “structural integration”. She devoted the next 30 years to the development of this technique.

In the mid-1960s she was invited by Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy, to the Esalen-Institut in Big Sur, California. Here she began to teach. More and more students enrolled in her courses. Soon it became necessary to formally combine the training in and the occupation with this new therapy in one organization, the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration. It was founded in 1971 in Boulder, Colorado. Since 2018 it operates under the name Dr. Ida Rolf Institute.

Until her death in 1979, Dr. Ida Rolf was active in teaching and research. She wrote several books and published numerous articles.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me in my practice in Berlin or Munich. Here you will find the contact page.