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Rolfing and Ethics

Nov 5, 2007
Ethics is defined as being a set of principles of right conduct, and as a Rolfer the therapeutic relationship necessitates this structure as much as it is defined by it. Les Kertay, Advanced Rolfer, defines ethics as the principles of a therapeutic relationship and in this brief review I will discuss insight into how and why problems arise in the therapeutic relationship spoken to at the 2002 Rolf Institute Annual Meeting, and give general principles/guidelines into begging the question What is Rolfing?

The basic assumption with Rolfing is that complaints stem from a failure of the therapeutic relationship or ethics. What to do about what is, is the Rolfers ontological resource that should be used when engaging a past, current, or future client. It appears to be as much a philosophy as it is a psychology, a complete lifestyle, which in and of itself begs the question, What is Rolfing? All health care relations are therapeutic relations and the phenomena known, as Transference/Counter transference that exists between a Rolfer and his clients is palpable, in all meetings.

The nature of the work will magnetize expectations of fix-it sessions and or desires to process emotions through the sessions, this is where it can start to get sticky. The Rolfer is always responsible for the framework of the relationship that always includes Transference/Counter transference so the boundaries and framework should begin with an Informed Consent form. This will always serve as a resource when dealing with unrecognized/unexpressed expectations of a client, a misunderstanding. NEVER HAVE SEX WITH A CLIENT. Do not make exceptions; if you do you have just changed the context of the relationship! Do not do anything with a client that you cannot discuss openly and comfortably. Remember that clients may be seeking boundaries by testing them.

Problem clients can include those involved with workman's compensation or car accidents, which means an attorney is involved or soon will be so keep no secrets and give no guarantees. It is always best to be yourself in dealing with clients because you never know when you could be ordered to testify under oath or end the relationship. Make rules, don't break them. Never say Rolfing can do anything, especially about pain, and do not create expectations. It is also wise to separate the intake interview and the first session to give both parties time to gauge the potential or lack thereof. Some clients will jump around from every Rolfer in town so as to navigate control of the therapeutic relations. Don't get caught in the Victim Triangle.
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What is Rolfing? Rolfing is an inquiry to the optimal functioning of the human being, so learn to tolerate ambiguity. It is a science, an art, a philosophy and psychology. It is action and non-action. It requires the practitioner to immerse him or herself in it completely, to merge with it. Honor the process by being completely unattached to expectations. Rolfing is the optimal functioning of the therapeutic relationship; so don't offer what the client doesn't want. Don't get caught in the trap of trying to legitimize Rolfing as if it needed recognition.

Rolfing does not need recognition, it facilitates resource and points to a potential of higher order that does, and this is the manifestation of health in the context of the therapeutic relationship. Rolfing is always changing and adapting to the way of the human being. Rolfing, applied appropriately, is ethics at it's best.

In 2002 Les Kertay spoke at the annual meeting about ethics and therapeutic relationships and it was my intent to communicate the content within the context of Rolfing as he did. Ethics are the principles of the therapeutic relationship and Rolfing is our gift as somatic therapist to engage life fully.
About the Author
John Barton is a Certified Rolfer and Rolf Movement Practitioner and Certified Budokon Conditioning Coach, and has a Rolfing and Budokon practice @ 3001 W. 5th St. 146 Fort Worth Tx 76107 or
http://www.rolfmovement.com , http://www.budokamp.com 817-300-9463.
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