Dr. Ida P. Rolf
Dr. Ida P. Rolf PhD was born in 1896 in New York City. A native New Yorker, Ida graduated from Barnard College in 1916; and in 1920 she earned a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. During WWI she was given a unique opportunity to work as a researcher at the Rockefeller Institute, first in the Department of Chemotherapy and later in the Department of Organic Chemistry. Eventually, she rose to the rank of Associate, no small achievement for a young woman in those days.
From 1919 to 1927 she published 16 scholarly journal papers mostly in the prestigious Journal of Biological Chemistry. In 1927, she took a leave of absence from her work to study mathematics and atomic physics at the Swiss Technical University in Zurich. During this time, she also studied homeopathic medicine in Geneva.
Returning from Europe, she spent the decade of the 1930’s seeking answers to personal and family health problems. Medical treatment available at that time seemed inadequate to her; this led to her exploration and experimenting with different systems of healing and manipulation including: osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, yoga, the Alexander technique and Korzybski’s work on states of consciousness.
By the 1940’s, she was working out of her Manhattan apartment with chronically disabled persons who were unable to find help elsewhere. This was the work eventually to be known as
Structural Integration. For the next thirty years, Ida Rolf devoted herself to developing her technique, refining the 10-series “recipe” and training programs.
During the 1950’s, her reputation spread to England where she spent summers as a guest of John Bennett, a prominent mystic and student of Gurdjieff. Then, in the mid-60’s, Dr. Rolf was invited to Esalen Institute in California at the suggestion of Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt Therapy. There she began training practitioners and instructors of Structural Integration.
The more Structural Integration classes Ida Rolf taught, the more students sought admission to training. Dr. Rolf became recognized as a pioneer and leader in the field of bodywork, soft tissue manipulation and movement education. As early as 1967, the first Guild for Structural Integration was loosely formed and eventually headquartered in a private home in Boulder, Colorado. The Guild continues to share her work by certifying structural Integration Practitioners dedicated to sharing and exploring her work with a commitment to professional excellence in the performance of Dr. Rolf’s standard ten-session series of Structural Integration, as well as a resolution to explore a path of personal growth which includes the transcendental vertical line.
In 1977, she wrote Rolfing: The Integration of Human Structures (Harper and Row, Publishers). This book is the major written statement of Ida P. Rolf’s scholastic and experiential investigation into the direct intervention with the evolution of the human species.
Ida Rolf died in 1979 in New Jersey.