Anne Hoff: How many years have you been practicing Rolfing Structural Integration (SI), and what inspired you to become a Rolfer in the first place?
Pedro Prado: I?ve been practicing Rolfing SI for thirty-five years. It feels like such a short time, and, at the same time, it feels like a very long time . . . When I sit back and look into my experience, it feels like a lot ? and I?m sure this is true for many of my colleagues. All of the classes I?ve taken, all of the clients I?ve seen, the many classes I?ve taught? Because I tend to inquire very persistently, with a lot of interest, every step along the way seemed new, with a lot of aspects to improve, to learn and digest. When experience happens this way, time goes by very fast, and it feels like we?re just starting, everything is still unfolding. My own experience during my Rolfing process is what motivated me into this work, and the experience of my clients and students is what keeps me in it.
AH: Who was your first Rolfer? How did he/she influence your desire to become a Rolfer?
PP: Jim Hriskos, a Greek gentleman from California. HIs influence was decisive: the depth of the contact opened up the path. There was something in me that was just waiting for the correct push, the right opening.
AH: What was your educational and work background prior to practicing Rolfing SI professionally? Was it related?
PP: I came from clinical psychology, body-oriented psychotherapy. Simultaneously with seeing psychotherapy clients, I taught somatic psychology at a university ? academic and clinical inquires into the human soul from a somatic perspective. I was fascinated by the influence of the psychomotor component in forming human identity; this opened up the body/ mind context for me. I had learned about clinical contact and about processes and was passionate about transformation, about evolution, about tracking and participating in one?s personal process. Rolfing SI came in and structural thinking came foreground, providing a broader context, a broader container for the different dimensions of human experience. It gave me further understanding of the here-and-now in bodily experience and physical structure as the essence of our experience. I was always attendant to the resonance between the different taxonomies of assessment we can apply to the human being, and Rolfing SI put together many aspects from my previous trainings.
I held a holistic perspective from the get go and made Rolfing SI the focus of my academic studies: both my master?s and PhD dissertations were about our work. In my Master?s paper (1982) I discussed the possible role of Rolfing SI in body-oriented psychology. Later, after twenty-five years of working as a Rolfer, I used my PhD thesis to investigate empirical evidence of the psychobiological dimension of our work. Somatic Experiencing® was another important addition to my body of knowledge. In all I?ve found a beautiful connection between two related sciences of Rolfing SI and Somatic Experiencing, where each feeds the other without either losing its distinct identity!
AH: Especially given your somatic psychology background, I?m curious how Rolfing SI influenced your own body/mind?
PP: I have been fascinated by the ?Line? ? it is quite a meditation that Ida Rolf gave us ? observing my own unique way of living this exploration, deconstructing the Line and yet having it as a reference, being tuned to its emergence and adaptations in daily life. It is a continuous reference when observing my experience, be it doing things, moving during my daily activities, or tracking my sensations and emotions derived and connected to my body and its organization in gravity. It?s a continuous way of being, ultimately leading to development of a level of awareness that can encompass many layers of my experience as a human being.
AH: You?d already taught psychology. What inspired you to teach Rolfing SI? And as a teacher, who were your formative influences ? both inside the Rolf Institute® and outside?
PP: The need to share and to spread the work was the main push for me. I was the first Brazilian Rolfer, and took on the mission of helping to bring Rolfing SI to this culture. My life has turned out to be about making this happen with quality and consistency. So becoming a teacher was a natural process: there was simultaneously the need and the wish. My main influences as a teacher were Jose Angelo Gaiarsa, a Brazilian pioneer in body-oriented psychotherapy, my colleagues from the Rolf Institute itself (for both structural and movement approaches), and lately Peter Levine with his trauma work.
AH: And then you eventually joined the Advanced Faculty, how did that come about?
PP: It was also a natural process. As a Rolfer, I outgrew the container I had from Basic Training (BT) and started my process with the Advanced Training by studying with Peter Melchior and Emmett Hutchins, and after this assisting them individually in BTs, as well as participating in post-advanced classes with them. But Jan Sultan and Jeff Maitland were the ?turning-point? influences in my career. Jeff for his broad and articulated philosophical perspective applied to Rolfing SI: he took Ida Rolf?s point of view and carried it to its ultimate consequences. It was fascinating to participate in his vision of the domain of Rolfing SI, which is based in Rolfing SI as a practice, not a technique or protocol. I appreciate the frameworks he has brought to our culture. Jan has influenced me with his ?shamanic biomechanical approach?; I?ve learned a lot with him, and have been fortunate to have the chance to do so in Ilha Bela and Barra do Sahy in Brazil, in Boulder, and in other beautiful locations. His creative and intuitive mind added much to my understanding of structure, and he?s evolved for our community very useful didactic models of ways to see and work. So Jan?s presence and passion are inspiring to me.
Then besides the Advanced Faculty there have been other influences on the progression of my ?advanced? Rolfing view. The Rolf Movement work is, for me, very integrated in the Rolfing paradigm. Vivian Jaye and Jane Harrington were big influences, laying the ground for the Rolf Movement work to evolve, and then Hubert Godard, who came later, and his movement theories and practices helped give shape to the very varied movement theories I had studied before and during my Rolfing path. His work really gelled our movement work as a vital part of Rolfing SI itself. Then from Peter Levine I got a somatic methodology for working with the emotions through the autonomic nervous system. This fit in beautifully with the work, and gave me experiences in energetic work with grounded, observable, and workable tools.
AH: What is different about teaching Basic and Advanced Rolfing trainings in terms of challenges and rewards?
PP: I teach both Basic and Advanced and they have very different challenges. In the BT, we must lay the ground for students? further development. They need both theory and skills, so we build the frame to further the work so the new Rolfer can discover its wonders through a natural development. So there is an immense responsibility in the BT; it needs to be set up so that new Rolfers are equipped to go out and learn from their practice.
With this basis, the Rolfer comes back to the Advanced Training (AT) and we host what his evolution has been and add shape to it, so that the Rolfer will structure and enhance his professional identity. We also need to balance skills with the vision of the work, filling in any blanks where the student is lacking. For some this will be techniques, for some a broader concept of the work, for some a deepening in one specific taxonomy . . . Our work has so many entry points, and these converge in the individual client?s experience of his structure in gravity. It takes a mature professional to assist this process, so the Rolfer needs to have a broad understanding of theory and a core of skills across many different taxonomies. Most of us have our preferences. We, as instructors, need to help Rolfers balance these preferences. Students in an advanced class often have developed a style, a familiar track. Sometimes we need to help correct their route, or pose particular challenges to help them develop on their route. Other times we just need to reinforce what has been their natural development, and this ?witnessing? can prove to be very reassuring in grounding one?s professional path.
In both Basic and Advanced Training the clinical component is crucial, so we give attention to development of the Rolfer and of the therapeutic relationship. Rolfing doesn?t happen in isolation. The relationship is the context of the event so we help students learn how to use it for the advantage of the process.
AH: As a teacher, how closely do you feel linked to Ida Rolf?s teaching? Has this changed over the years?
PP: I feel very close to Dr. Rolf?s point of view. I do find, though, that we have more tools to work with than she had. We benefit from expansion in all the taxonomies, and the Principles of Intervention gave us flexibility of access. It?s way more sophisticated nowadays to be a Rolfer than in the past. I would say that Ida gave us a ?minimalist? concept ? the essence. Since her time, there has been an evolution in the variety of techniques and our understanding of the taxonomies. So, without changing the essence, we have more tools and a finer way to work. How does structure translate to function and allow experiences that, if monitored, will bring the human being to a fuller expression of himself? This is what we?ve always worked with, consciously or unconsciously. I?d say we are working more consciously nowadays, as we are aware of a greater number of variables and students have broader vision and more tools to work with them. I?d say that in Ida?s essential teaching and practice, a lot was left to a natural unfolding that could happen, unconsciously, in a mature structure; nowadays, we try to track these processes consciously.
AH: What can you say about your unique style of Rolfing SI?
PP: It?s interesting ? all I did was to consistently follow Ida?s premises, and take them to their natural practical ends. For many things she laid out the territory, but did not give the methodology to work with these taxonomies. It?s as if she had the vision, and the basic tools to work with the physical structure. Personally, besides the biomechamical approach, I?ve paid lots of attention to the Rolf Movement work and to the psychobiological dimension of the work. The basic concepts are in the first chapter of Ida?s book, where she talked about the body-mind concept and the new approach she was bringing. One of my callings has been to highlight the psychobiological realm, to help our profession to sort it out, (not be afraid of it, not deny it), and to monitor it while working with the process of realigning the physical structure. My PhD thesis work showed that this dimension is omnipresent in the work, and that we just needed appropriate methodology.
AH: What changes in the work, if any, do you think need to happen to make it more viable?
PP: We have the challenge to simplify. We need to build simple and universal protocols so that we don?t get lost, lost in our passion or our unique style and discoveries. One way is to just follow the ?Recipe? ? this has so far proven to be the only solid reference language among all Rolfers in the community (e.g., ?I?ll do a Third-Hour approach,? or ?a Second-Hour blah, blah, blah?); but this can impoverish and tie up our expression as Rolfers. Another way would be to have a series of well-organized protocols that could work like a ?checklist?, shared by all, that would continuously reference where the practitioner is: such as initial interview protocols, a list of well-described and named techniques. An example of this is the traditional SOAP notes format where in every session you think about what the client says, what you see, what you do, and your plan for the next intervention. This would teach students to always look for the subjective and the objective, for instance. Or it could be a documentation of which taxonomy you worked with and systematic reflection. Protocols would also clarify our communications with the larger world.
The usefulness of this would be as a guide to our interactions with clients and our communication within our community and to the world. In our community?s evolution of the work, we have gone all around ? often to the point that the work is unrecognizable as Rolfing SI. We expanded and enriched our tradition, but it?s time to converge: a convergence that does not abandon our new terrain but rather integrates it. Having simple and universal protocols that systematize some of our expansion could keep our advancement congruent with our roots. It would help to write more about what we do ? we have to communicate. One format I?m fond of is case studies, which can take many forms, from academic to poetic. Sharing these would definitely take us out of our little boxes and enhance our sense of community, something I feel is crucial to both the maintenance and continuous growth of the work.
AH: How does this idea of creating protocols mesh with the way the advanced work has become nonformulistic? Are they more protocols for thinking, conceptualization, and reflection than protocols for working?
PP: I think of them as both, covering the intricate relationship between conceptualization and practice. These two dimensions should feed each other. One thinks, then one works, then one reflects on what one worked. I see it as a practice that would lead our community to develop a language. In the process of using these protocols, we?d have to describe what we mean by this or that category. At the same time, ?protocols? would be a touchstone to remind practitioners of techiques, approaches, and systems that they may have forgotten about or not considered, so they could cue a broader repertoire in a given session, if appropriate. So by ?protocols? I am referring more to guidelines, references that can help shape the work, assemble our available information, generate common language, and improve communication. They would also hold the framework of nonformulistic thinking. Just as the Principles of Intervention give support to nonformulistic reasoning, I am thinking of other conceptual ways to anchor our decisions regarding what we are going to do; principles, that if respected, would be a safe guide to our work.
The next step would be to record these so that in use such protocols would be educational, guide self-learning of their concepts and anchor strategizing in safe analysis. Such protocols could function as guides for the use of the Principles, and ground the Principles which could otherwise be at risk of becoming abstractions. In reality, because Rolfing SI is a holistic field, we are always dealing with all of the Principles simultaneously. (E.g., as you prepare something, you are increasing adaptability, increasing support, changing the available palintonic order, which leads to closure, etc.). Protocols would help track the use of the Principles.
AH: So you are talking about protocols that are not just lists of things to do, but rather multifaceted processes that encode our conceptualizations and have an inherent intelligence and guidance for the practitioner who contemplates them, like the Ten Series does?
PP: Yes. I ultimately envision designing protocols for other uses as well. For instance, the use of techniques. A checklist with available and described techniques that could be used didactically, and to get a common language around what we mean by each of them. Then we would have descriptors to answer such questions as ?What did you do??, ?What approach did you take??, ?What technical resources did you use??
<i>Pedro Prado?s research focus and signature approach to the clinical practice and teaching of Rolfing® SI concern how best to build bridges among the structural, functional, and psychobiological perspectives. A clinical psychologist and former professor of somatic psychology, Pedro has been teaching Rolfing SI for over twenty-five years in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Japan, South Africa, and Australia. He is a member of the Advanced Rolfing and Rolf Movement faculties of the Rolf Institute® and an Advanced Instructor for the Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute. Since he became a Rolfer in 1981, Pedro has established and nurtured practitioner communities of Rolfing SI and Somatic Experiencing in his native Brazil and throughout the world.
Anne Hoff is a Certified Advanced Rolfer in Seattle, Washington, a teacher of the Diamond Approach® to inner work, and the Editor-in- Chief of this Journal. </i>[:de]<img src=’https://novo.pedroprado.com.br/imgs/2016/1455-01.jpg’>