Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2019

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90 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 9 technique THE SOMATIC EDGE Dr. Ida Rolf (the originator of Rolfing structural integration) organized her sessions into three phases: preparation, differentiation, and integration. In this issue, we examine how integration might be applied to other kinds of hands-on work as well. WHAT IS INTEGRATION? The word integration is very widely used in our field. An internet search for word combinations like "integration + bodywork" or "integration + massage" returns over 27 million results. But what does integration actually mean? The word's original Latin root, integrare, means to renew or restore, to make whole, or to finish. In psychology, integration refers to the coordination of processes within the nervous system, as in sensory motor integration. In the specialized vernacular of Rolfing and related forms of structural integration bodywork, integration is a very nuanced term that can imply balance, unity, completion, alignment, ease, and much more. In its dictionary meaning, integration simply signifies the process of combining or uniting multiple things, so they become a single whole. In our Advanced Myofascial Techniques trainings, we use the word mainly in this sense: the "integration" phase of our work reminds the client that their body is not simply differentiated parts, but is, in fact, an irreducible, undivided whole (Image 1). Thinking About Integration and Completion By Til Luchau INTEGRATION AND COMPLETION TECHNIQUES When wrapping up a session, it can be useful to think of addressing the biological or physical aspects of integration first; then, the psychological or inner side of the work; and finally, the social or interactive aspects of taking the work out into one's life (even though in practice, all these functions probably need to be addressed together, rather than sequentially). Biological/Physical Aspects The physical or biological aspects of integration and closure typically include attention to overall balance and territorial completeness. As we come toward the end of a technique, session, or series of sessions, the key question is: Does the work feel balanced and complete enough to the client to comfortably end for now? Different manual therapy modalities will accomplish this "complete enough" state in diverse ways. Massage therapists who, in their entry-level training, are sometimes taught to work the entire body in every session—or to work both sides of the body in a similar way—can advance their skill by learning to achieve a sense of completeness even when working asymmetrically. On the other hand, physical therapists or physiotherapists, who typically receive a detailed education about individual conditions and anatomical structures, can often round out their approach by looking for larger, often less-predictable connections in the body as a part of balancing and completing their focused work. Psychological/Inner Aspects One of the best techniques for achieving a sense of overall balance is to simply ask the client or patient about their "felt sense of completeness" before your time The "integration" phase of a hands- on session can remind the client's brain that their body is not simply differentiated parts, but is, in fact, an irreducible, undivided whole. 1

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