What it Takes to be a Rolfer
First I want to mention that practitioners of Rolfing® are exclusively certified through the Rolf Institute. If you run across someone claiming to be doing the work, but they weren’t certified by the Institute, then chances are you will not be getting the real deal.
That being said graduation from the Rolf Institute really only means that you graduated from the Institute. You learn the basic 10 Series, you know enough to not damage anyone, but do you really know how to “rolf”? There are so many nuances and subtle levels of the work that really only come with time and commitment.
I once watched a documentary called, Dancing for Mr. B. It was a review of the careers of 5 dancers that Mr. Balanchine (director and choreographer of the New York City Ballet) cultivated and groomed. Melissa Hayden was one of these amazing women and she said something like: “You’re not a Balanchine dancer because you have a small head, long legs or a look. You become a Balanchine dancer by dancing his ballets”. I would say this is true of Rolfing®.
You’re not a Rolfer because you learned a technique or two. You become a Rolfer by doing the work. There are no techniques, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Rolfing® is about listening and literally improvising on the spot what is needed in that moment for that person. And for sure there are instances when I know a certain position will work because there is familiarity with the situation. But because we are all so individually unique there is never a guarantee the same repeatable technique will work. Because the work demands that I be open and receptive, I’m constantly on my toes (no referential pun to Balanchine intended).
Most Rolfers work a long career. If they can get past the 5 year mark, they’re probably in it for the long haul. I am grateful for Dr. Rolf for creating this work to give me a profession that I can do for hopefully the rest of my life. And at 17 years of practice and going strong, I can no longer consider myself a beginner, but I’m certainly not in the mastery category yet. That title is reserved for my colleagues well into their 25th and 30th years of practice.