Dr. Rolf developed Structural Integration during the 1940’s and 50’s, and her work became popularized in the 1960’s. She earned her PH.D in biological chemistry from Columbia University’s in 1920. At the same time she was working towards her degree, she also worked as a research fellow at the Rockefeller Institute. Following an accident which left her with acute phenomena, she was unable to find relief from mainstream allopathic medicine. Eventually she found her way to an osteopathic practitioner, who get her back to health.

The experience with the osteopath was the catalyst for a life long search into health and the human condition. She took up the study of osteopathy, yoga, homeopathic medicine, Alexander Technique, philosophy and spiritual studies. Eventually she became well known as a healer who could help people who had been unable to find help elsewhere. People started lining up outside her apartment in New York where she practiced. Her approach was direct, as well as experimental, and gradually she developed her understanding and honed her natural abilities.

A key element in the development of Rolf Structural Integration was the study of yoga. Dr. Rolf studied and practiced yoga for 12 years. In yoga she learned the principle and practice of working with the entire body as a united whole. Yoga teaches a form of integration, where the practitioner reconnects disjointed parts and perspectives, and comes back into one’s inherent balanced relationships with oneself, other people, and the world at large. Balanced relationships is a key component of Rolf Structural Integration. In the middle of the 1960’s Dr. Rolf was invited to teach at the Esalan Institute in California. After teaching and further developing her method at Esalen for a number of years she eventually relocated to Boulder Colorado where she set up the Guild for Structural Integration, her first school.