April 4, 2002
Dear Structural Integration Colleagues,
The world has changed since Dr. Rolf first began teaching Structural Integration. As practitioners, most of us prefer to direct our energy to our daily practice rather than to tedious issues like legislation and administration. Accordingly, we now have a lot of really good practitioners and outstanding teachers working with Dr. Rolf's principles and practices. But if we look at what's happening to this field in the context of the professional world, then we see that collectively, we are heading for trouble.
Our chosen field is in danger of becoming known, practiced, and taught as a subset of massage therapy. This comes from two directions. First, more states are licensing bodyworkers and since the only test available in the field is the NCBTMB, Structural Integrators are often required to become licensed as massage therapists. The NCBTMB is not an exam that ensures a level of competency or even knowledge in the field of Structural Integration, but practitioners who live in these states need to pass this exam, keep up membership in the NCBTMB and take the required continuing education. Not only is it a waste of time and money, but the licensing does not cull out incompetent SI practitioners. Second, some form of Structural Integration is being taught in many different massage schools, running the gamut from three-day weekend wonder classes to the traditional courses laid out by Dr. Rolf and taught by her original faculty. The number of SI practitioners beginning to teach is increasing, which is not in itself a bad thing since we have much to offer, but the fact is that some do a thorough job and some don't. This cannot be (nor should it be) curtailed, but we can act to make sure that those calling themselves SI practitioners have a basic set of skills that we agree are necessary to this practice.
Structural Integration can continue to erode and disintegrate as a field, with each individual school serving only its own graduates, or we can pull together, reaching beyond these artificial borders to create a cohesive identity in the world. Either we become a self-regulating and evolving entity, or we will be absorbed into the general soup of massage. Our choice.
Regulation of our profession is inevitable. Either we take ourselves in hand and create a distinct place for ourselves, or we wait a few more years and the AMTA or NCBTMB will impose their concept of this work upon us. The NCBTMB has already discussed creating an SI specialty certification. While this effort would no doubt be well-intentioned, it is not likely to ensure the quality that has been the hallmark of our profession, nor would it provide long-term professional support for practitioners. There is still time for us to act, but that interval is not infinite.
Organizing as a professional body and self-regulation can be good for us. A certification process that tests graduates for a beginning level of knowledge and competency will ensure that the basics of Dr. Rolf's Structural Integration will be understood and taught. We do not want to find ourselves in the same situation as Pilates teachers: they did not establish a national certification process, and now that the Pilates name can be used by anyone, whatever their training, they have no way to ensure competency in their teachers. The public is now left with the job of sorting the good from the not-so-good, with the result that the name and the profession suffer. We are heading into this same predicament unless we 1) establish a professional organization, and 2) establish reasonable but meaningful prerequisites for joining and maintaining membership. Please join us in setting up this mechanism to ensure that the public knows they are in safe hands when they sign up for Structural Integration. Use the gold sheet to sign up, help out and indicate your area of interest.
We (a small group of experienced and forward-looking practitioners from both large and small SI schools) have been working over the last year to think out some of the problems and opportunities such an organization could encounter and create. We are inviting you to join us now with your time, money, and/or work. Only we ourselves can do this.
International Association of Structural Integrators
On January 2, 2002, the International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI) was incorporated in the state of Montana, USA, as a non-profit membership organization [501(c)6]. The purposes of this organization are:
Dr. Rolf's work is capable of many interpretations, and easily bears the weight of different emphases - emotional, biomechanical, spiritual, psychosomatic, etc. But what joins these various practitioners is greater than what separates them: the "recipe", the structural approach, a relationship to gravity, connective tissue responsiveness, the language of anatomy, the desire for quality and the drive to quest further for answers. IASI will continue to recognize and encourage the unique variations among our practitioners. We will endeavor to develop a certification process that will be fair to all graduates and at the same time ensure that the principles and practices that separate our field from all others are maintained.
Currently, IASI is being developed by an interim Board of Directors supported by the efforts of other concerned practitioners, who are volunteering their time and money. To learn more about IASI please read the enclosures. We would like to have this organization fully functioning by the beginning of 2003. To that end we need your help now.
We look forward to hearing from you soon,
Lisa Fairman, President
Thomas Myers, Vice President
Marilyn Beech, Secretary/Tresurer
P.O. Box 8664
MISSOULA, MT 59807