Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

Structural Integration: The Journal of the Rolf Institute – Summer / August 2003 – Vol 31 nº 03

Volume: 31

I have served on the Ethics and Business Practices Committee for a little less than a year now and have found it extremely rewarding and enriching. What I would like to do here is to briefly share my experiences of this process in the hope that it will offer clearer understanding of the process for the Rolfing° community at large.

When I was first asked to join the committee, I was informed that there was a rather messy case in the works on which I might soon be asked to serve. A few weeks later, Karna Knapp informed me that as several folks had recused themselves from the case, I would soon be receiving an information packet containing all the relevant documents. I was also told at that time that the case had been reviewed by Les Kertay, was given a brief summary of his view of it, and told some pertinent facts about the process and the documents themselves. I was also told by Karna the names of the other two members of the case review panel. I soon received a rather hefty copy of documents written by the Rolfer and the complainant, both of which I promptly studied for several hours, taking copious notes and writing numerous questions regarding the disparities between the two accounts of the event that led to the complaint.

Several days later I called the female member of my committee to introduce myself and got a clearer sense of the upcoming process from her. During this conversation very little was said about the case per se; the call was more procedural. We discussed such matters as when the three of us would speak on a conference call (this service being provided to us at the Rolf Institute’s® expense through an independent agency); how that call might be structured; and some of the general issues that would be explored during that conversation. Approximately ten days later the three of us had a call, which lasted 30-40 minutes. We were able to come to agreement on most issues fairly quickly, despite the considerable detail and numerous inconsistencies between the two versions of the case. I attribute this largely to the focus and clarity of our thought process and the skills of the other members. After we had agreed on most of the major points we wished to address, we discussed who would write the report, how that report should be structured, and specifics of language and content, addressing the concerns of both parties in a way that struck me as remarkably balanced, thorough and fair.

One of the keys to balance of tone and message was that, since the case involved matters of a perceived sexual impropriety on the part of a male Rolfer with a female client, we agreed that the female member of the committee write our report, as she had very strong feelings on this complex issue of gender and power. Her document, which we individually reviewed and later discussed in a second conference call, struck me as remarkably clear, thorough, and though strongly worded, remarkably fair to both parties. The author and the committee found fault with both parties involved and felt very strongly that our views be communicated to both the Rolfer and the client. While we found no ethical problems with the Rolfer’s actions, we did find some poor judgment in the clinical arena.

Although it is doubtful that the complainant felt vindicated, since in her view nothing short of the Rolfer’s legal conviction (a process that she had tried repeatedly before petitioning us, with no success) would appease her ire, we hoped that our insights into the process would provide her with some vindication and sense of closure. How well we succeeded in this, if at all (remote as it seemed at the time), we will likely never know.

At no time were our actions or our process influenced by either Karna Knapp or by Les Kertay. At no time were we complicit with anyone to protect the Rolf Institute nor was there any mention of any such thing at any time during the process. At the slightest intimation of anything hinting of covert manipulation or direction to rule in favor of the practitioner or to shade my views to minimize discomfiture on the part of the Institute, I would have been off the committee immediately and would have made my views known immediately to Karna and all appropriate personnel. I know that we always acted as a discrete group, that we approached this difficult case with courage and openness and that we at all times strove for balance, fairness and objectivity.

One of the most humbling and painful insights that I took from this interesting and difficult process is how easily things can go awry in our work. How what may seem an innocent gesture, word, or anecdote, can be received so differently from what the sender intended. Also, this experience really heightened my sense of how easy it is to cross ethical and personal boundaries. It not only raised my consciousness greatly, it also served as a cautionary tale of the psychological complexities of our work. I am grateful to have been a part of this process and my sense is that other folks reviewing other cases of varying levels of difficulty share the same sense of gratitude and moral integrity that I experienced in my workings with my small review panel. I honestly welcome the opportunity to serve again and, like my colleagues, will, I hope, always do so as unencumbered with conflicted loyalties and any desire to protect a Rolfer at the expense of a client or possible litigation as is objectively possible.The Ethics Review Process

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