Ida P. Rolf earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in 1920. During the ensuing 12 years, she worked at The Rockefeller Institute in the Department of Chemotherapy and later in the Department of Organic Chemistry. During her time at the Institute, she took a leave of absence to study atomic physics at the Swiss Technical Institute in Zurich.
Dissatisfied with existing medical care in the 1930’s, Dr. Rolf continued to search passionately for answers to family health problems. This led her to study many systems including Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Yoga, Homeopathy, the Alexander Technique, and Korzybsji’s work on states of consciousness. Throughout her explorations, Dr. Rolf was grounded in the scientific point of view, and also acknowledged the value of solutions arrived at intuitively.
By 1940, Dr. Rolf was working with people seeking help. The work she developed during this time and to which she devoted herself to until her death, came to be known as Structural Integration. During the 1950’s, she spent summers as a guest of John Bennett, a prominent mystic and student of Gurdjieff. In the mid-1960’s Dr. Rolf began training practitioners and instructors in Structural Integration at the Esalen Institute in California. Shortly before her death in 1979, she published Rolfing: Reestablishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being (Inner Traditions Intl Ltd; November 1990 ISBN: 0892813350) the primary text documenting her investigation and intervention with the human structure.