Bodywork is a holistic approach that enhances mind-body integration. Bodywork is a re-education of our mind and muscles. It can address the conscious mind, the unconscious mind, the emotions, the energetic body, or concentrate on postural changes. For the patient, bodywork can be a passive or active experience, or both.

"Bodywork can be a gateway to all aspects of ourselves -- the essence of our being in which our soul lies in every cell."--J.L. Wieder.

There are many kinds of bodywork, ranging from the Alexander Technique to Zero Balancing. Bodywork can be categorized according to their approaches, such as:

Structural Approaches

Structural Integration

This deep massage/bodywork is directed at the body's connective tissue (fascia), which surrounds the nerves, muscles, and bones. Structural Integration may cause discomfort and pain as the practitioner uses hands, elbows, and arms to press and stretch adhesions in the connective tissue. The goal is to restore flexibility and alignment.

Structural Integration is a very systematic approach developed by Ida P. Rolf. Practitioners start working on the outer layers, then work deeper and deeper until the core layers are penetrated. They manipulate connective tissue by lengthening and breaking up adhesions to allow the body to be most efficient when lined up to its vertical (gravity) axis, called the Rolf line. The generic name for Dr. Rolf's work is Structural Integration.

Structural integration is given in a series of 10 sessions, each directed at a different portion of the body. In addition to massage, the patient/player is taught how to move more freely. Benefits of structural integration include greater freedom of movement, increased circulation and energy, relief from chronic pain, and may also speed recovery from injury.

Trigger-Point Therapy

Trigger-point therapy focuses on specific complaints, such as neck stiffness, back pain, frozen shoulder, or muscles spasms. Trigger points occur in muscles, tendons, and the connective tissue (fascia) around nerves, muscles, and bones. Trigger points often radiate pain to other parts of the body. The therapist applies deep, continuous pressure to the irritated point. The area is first prepared with massage before deep pressure is applied with hand or elbow. After the tension in the point has been released, the muscles around it are stretched and stroked. A session lasts about one hour.

Trigger-point therapy is frequently used by physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists on patients who are recovering from surgery, injuries, and automobile accidents.


This is a combination of massage and bodywork. It releases chronic physical tension by realigning the body, first, with deep massage, followed by movement re-education, and learning by guided dialog how our emotions specifically affect the body.

Joseph Heller, with a background in aerospace engineering, emphasizes structural alignment and integration. There are a series of 11 sessions that combine physical and psychological aspects.

Sessions focus on different parts of the body and its corresponding movements, such as breathing, standing, holding. The initial sessions deal with the stages of development in early childhood. In addition to movement, simple suggestion, visualization, and video feedback may be used to enhance the awareness of the link between emotions and the state of the body.

Sessions last 90 minutes.

The goal is to realign the body to gain a sense of well-being. Effective for relief from chronic pain and sports injuries.


Soma is one of the techniques that have evolved out of Ida P. Rolf's work. Developed by Bill M. Williams and wife Ellen Gregory, Soma neuromuscular integration uses a less invasive way than structural integration to treat the myofascial tissue.

By integrating your nervous system and aligning the body, it can induce emotional and perceptual changes. To increase awareness of changes, Soma uses tools such as deep relaxation (autogenic training), journal keeping, guided dialog, movements, and videos.


CORE bodywork also evolved out of structural integration. It is a multiphase educational process developed by George P. Kousaleos, who was a student of Bill Williams, who developed Soma.

It starts with the with the outer layers of the myofacial tissue then concentrates on progressively deeper layers of connective tissue and muscles.

Postural Integration

Developed by Jack Painter, Ph.D, Postural Integration offers a series of 10 sessions that combines deep tissue work, acupressure, deep breathing, and movement awareness. The practitioner encourages deep breathing to release blocked emotions while doing deep tissue work to the body.

Beindegewebsmassage or Connective Tissue Massage

Developed in Germany, Beindegewebsmassage is also known as connective tissue massage or reflexive therapy of the connective tissue.

The practitioner strokes the layers just below the impact the fascia layer, which has many sensory nerve endings. This sets up a reflex from the skin to the organs -- not unlike acupuncture. No lotions are used, and the series of strokes are called hooking, smoothing, etc.

The client may experience a scratching, or cutting, sensation as if sharp lines were etched on the skin, but pain is not experienced. Most treatments are given from a seated postion that usually begins at the sacrum (triangular bone at bottom of spine) to induce relaxation by activating the parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system.

Bowen Technique

The Bowen technique as developed in Australia by Tom Bowen. The therapist employs a "plucking" technique (similar to playing a guitar) on the tendons, fascia and nerves. which sets up a vibration from the nerves to the muscles. This reflex helps to relax mucles, free joints, improve lymph and blood circulation. Unlike massage, there is no force or deep pressure applied.

Conditions that are benefited by this approach include problems in the back, such as sciatica, abdominal and diaphragmatic pain, chest and sternal pain.. Carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, headaches, digestive and respiratory conditions, TMJ and others.

Lauren Berry Method

Lauren Berry was a mechanic and engineer who believed that the distortion of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons contributed to the distortion of the spine and the extremities. If the center of gravity, which lies in the pelvic girdle according the Berry, is not aligned, then whatever lies above and below will be distorted as well.

Soft-tissue manipulation and deep massage are used to break up muscle spasms and adhesions

Myofascial Release

Myofacial release is an osteopathic term coined by Dr. Robert Ward. John Barnes, a physical therapist, developed a system that evaluates the fascia by using osteopathic methods, craniosacral therapy, structural integration, and physical therapy.

Myofascial release is a gentle approach that identifies and releases constricted areas in the connective tissue surrounding nerves, muscles, and bones. The belief is that the connective tissue becomes constricted due to illness, stress, or injury.

Treatment consists of strokes and stretching called unwinding, which helps the practitioner find specific areas of trauma called still points. Sessions can be from 30 to 90 minutes. Myofascial therapists also teach the patient stretching exercises to help them maintain their health.

Myofascial release relieves pain associated with muscle tightness, headaches, fibromyalgia, and scoliosis, and can help recovery from injury.

Myofascial therapy provides relief for chronic neck and back pain, and aids in the recovery of spinal cord injuries. It also is effective for traumatic stress syndrome and some disorders of the nervous system.

The Neuro-Muscular Re-Education Model

These techniques and approaches seek to re-educate both the mind and the body and increase their awareness.

Alexander Technique

Using guided movements and verbal directions, practitioners of the Alexander Technique re-educate the musculoskeletal system to improve mobility, balance, and posture. After poor habits are identified, new patterns of movement are introduced, with particular attention to the alignment of the head, neck,and spine.

F.M. Alexander, the originator of the technique was an actor who repeatedly lost his voice. Not able to be cured by doctors, but only through self-observation and inhibition he was able to cure himself. Alexander realized that pulling his head back and down caused neck pressure and resulted in chronic nasal and respiratory problems.

An Alexander session may begin with the practitioner aligning a person's body while the patient lies on a massage table. This is followed by guided practice in standing, walking, sitting, and bending. The goal is to make the patient/player aware of conscious patterns that create poor posture and muscle tension. With awareness of these patterns, the client is encouraged to inhibit them. Structural integration involves a series of at least 10 sessions, each lasting about an hour.

The Alexander neuromuscular re-education is beneficial in correcting spinal deformities, relieving chronic neck and back pain, and improving balance and movement.

The Trager Approach

Developed by Milton Trager, M.D., the Trager Approach is a system of re-education that replaces restrictive patterns of motion with free physical movements.The Trager Approach is based on the belief that physical tension originates in the unconscious mind.

The practitioner without "trying" (translates to effort, according to Dr. Trager) imparts a feeling of pleasant sensations and effortless movements through gentle rocking motions.

Milton Trager's background in dancing, boxing, and acrobatics was essential to the development of the Trager approach. The essence of the Trager Approach contains gracefulness in every movement.

While the patient lies on a massage table, the Trager practitioner works from a meditative state, called "hook-up," before touching the client -- a state of connection.

The client usually experiences a shimmering, rhythmic wave-like motion , that penetrates to the the core that the body can remember as effortless and playful. The practitioner uses the weight of the client's body allowing gravity to guide it through motion.

Each touch communicates the suggestion of how can it be lighter? How can it be softer? These effortless and graceful movements touch our tissue, and penetrate our unconscious minds – as a thrown stone ripples in a still lake.

As Deane Juhan in Job's Body so eloquently states:

"The skin is no more separated from the brain than the surface of a lake is separated from its depths.......To touch the surface is to stir the depths."

Sessions may last up to 90 minutes. Clients are instructed how to perform home exercises called Mentastics that recall and reinforce the free movements experienced in Trager sessions.

Mentastics, a term coined by Dr. Milton Trager and his wife Emily, means mental gymnastics -- movment directed by our minds by asking questions such as: What is Lighter? What is Freer? What is Softer? Pause and listen -- your body and mind will find the way.

The Trager approach is not a technique or a method. It is an individualized experience, which is tailored to the clients need and rhythm. The practitioner transmits to the client what it is like to be effortless and freer in movement and in mind.

The benefits are increased mental clarity, deep relaxation, improved physical mobility, and relief from chronic pain. The Trager Approach has also been very effective for those with neurlogical conditions including Parkinsons, polio, and sciatica.

“Trager -- a meditation in motion that is subtle to the core.” -- Dr. June Leslie Wieder.

Feldenkrais Method

The Feldenkrais Method seeks to increase neuromuscular awareness, followed by movement re-education. The client/player is taught to recognize habitual patterns of movement and discover how to move with more ease and flexibility.

"Awareness through Movement" is the essential ingredient for re-education of our mind and body. It is a learning process through movement. New habits and postures are integrated in our nervous system that translates into movements.

Practitioners employ two techniques. Functional Integration is a hands-on approach in which the patient lies on a massage table and is assisted in discovering how to move with greater flexibility. There is also the Awareness Through Movement method, in which the patient/players are verbally guided in basic movements. The goal is to be free of muscle tension with weight evenly distributed on muscles and joints. The client is active in this approach with gentle manipulation and guided attention toward for internal sensory awareness. With these guided movements we can then become aware of our old patterns and habits, then gradually replace this pattern with a more supportive one.

Moshe Feldenkrauis, a physicist who became a body educator, said "Movement occurs only when the nervous system sends the impulses that contract the necessary mucles in the right patterns or assemblies in the right sequences in time".

Clients usually experience increased flexibility, energy, improved digestion and respiration, and a decrease in pain.

Feldenkrais exercises can enhance physical performance, relieve chronic and acute pain, and help recover from neurological dysfunctions such as brain injuries.


Ortho-Bionomy is a gentle non-invasive approach.that is osteopathically based. The practitioner uses gentle movements and positions of the body to facilitate change and reduce stress patterns.

Arthur Lincoln Pauls, the creator, choose to work with the line of least resistance. Ortho-bionomy means "a correct application of the natural laws of life."

During a session, tension points and restricted movements are located. Slight compression is applied while gentle rocking and holding an area until a release has occurred.

Ortho-Bionomy has been found to be effective for chronic pain, injuries, and structural imbalances.

Emotional/Psychological Approaches

Emotional and psychological bodywork techniques concentrate on the connection between emotions, mind, and the body.

Rosen Method

The Rosen Method is based on the belief that our bodies reflect our experiences, particularly forgotten traumas and bad memories that can translate into muscle tension, shallow breathing, and restricted patterns of movement. These subconscious emotions can be released by applying light pressure to areas with tense muscles. Emotional or verbal expression often accompanies muscular release.

A Rosen practitioner uses touch, movement, and dialog as their tools for transformation,. The practitioner pays special attention to the patient/player's breathing while applying pressure to muscle areas. Sessions last about one hour.

The goal of the Rosen Method is to encourage self-acceptance, which results in relaxation, relief from stress and pain, and feeling more alive.

Hakomi Integrative Somatics

Pat Ogden, a founding member of Hakomi Integrative Somatics, says it is "centered around developing the resource of the body to establish and maintain the deepest felt sense of who we are."

New body awareness is achieved by a combination of hands-on experience, movement, self-exploration. Psychological and physical patterns are explored by a series of questions before any table work.

The Hakomi approach is particularly effective for traumas.

SHEN -- Physio-Emotional Release Therapy

SHEN is an acronym for Specific Human Energy Nexus. According to Pavek, the originator, painful emotions are stored in the body which interupt normal physiological functions. The body contracts when there is pain, whether emotional or physical. The goal of SHEN is to dissipate these "trapped emotions" that our bodies store.

A SHEN practitioner follows a certain pattern of flow -- where energy is said to move naturally up the right side and down the left. The practitioner holds his hands gently on a specific place until there is a release of tension. This subsequently encourages a release of painful emotions and memories associated with traumatic events.

Reich's Bioenergetics

Wilhelm Reich taught that there is a functional identity between a person's character and his bodily attitude, which he called muscular armoring. A person uses armoring to protect himself or herself from painful or threatening emotional experiences. The pattern of muscular tensions in a person's body are the result of armoring.

Lowen Alexander, a modern Bioenergetics master, developed therapeutic applications for Reich's work. Lowen's treatments and exercises have been widely adopted.

Bioenergetics deals with the mind-body connection. The goal is to release the muscular armoring and to allow the body's energy to flow naturally, thereby increasing joy and pleasure.

Lack of energy is the result of suppressed feelings that are bound in the muscles. These tensions can be broken by therapeutic intervention and a series of exercises that provide a powerful release of defensive armor, and promotes healing within. Reich believed that healthy people have high energy levels that flow freely, resulting in pleasure and joy.

Jin Shin Do

Jin Shin Do is a synthesis of western and eastern practice and philosophy. It incorporates a psychological dimension along with classical Chinese acupunture theory, Japanese acupressure techniques, and breathing techniques.

The practitioner usually starts a session by taking an assessment of why you have come. Then, while you lie clothed on a padded table, the practitioner will touch your body feeling for tension holding one hand on a local point and the other hand on a distal point that is related to the local point.

The practitioner stimulates the flow of energy along pathways called meridians. The patient may experience a tingling and pleasant sensation.

In addition Jin Shin Do works with an Emotional Kaleidoscope, a map that relates many different emotions with our organs.

Rubenfeld Synergy Method

Ilana Rubenfeld, a musician, integrated a psychological approach and Ericksonian hypnotherapy into her approach. She realized the importance of working with emotions which bodywork seemed to release.

Rubenfeld feels that unless the emotions are dealt with simultaneously with the physical symptoms, then the symptoms are most likely to return.

Movement, verbal expressions, viualization, breathing patterns, sound, body awareness are incorporated into the sessions. These components assist the retrieval of emotions stored in the body in a form Rubenfeld calls "holding patterns."


This is a combination of massage and bodywork. It releases chronic physical tension by realigning the body, first, with deep massage, followed by movement re-education, and learning by guided dialog how our emotions specifically affect the body.

Joseph Heller, with a background in aerospace engineering, emphasizes structural alignment and integration. There are a series of 11 sessions that combine physical and psychological aspects.

Sessions focus on different parts of the body and its corresponding movements, such as breathing, standing, holding. The initial sessions deal with the stages of development in early childhood. In addition to movement, simple suggestion, visualization, and video feedback may be used to enhance the awareness of the link between emotions and the state of the body.

Sessions last 90 minutes.

The goal is to realign the body to gain a sense of well-being. Effective for relief from chronic pain and sports injuries.

Somato-Emotional Release

The Somato-Emotional Release approach deals with tissue trauma. It is an integral part of the cranial-sacral system that works with releasing traumatic or emotional experiences that are locked in our bodies.

It utilizes therapeutic imagery along with dialogue and physical support techniques to initiate change.

Energy Approaches

The Energy-Balancing Techniques

These bodywork techniques seek to restore balance to the body's energy field.

Polarity Therapy

A synthesis of modern medicine, Chinese medicine, and Hindu Ayruvedic health practices, Polarity Therapy is designed to restore energy flow throughout the body.

Polarity therapists believe that energy currents in the body are like electricity and can be positive, negative, or neutral. The patient lies on a massage table, and the practitioner uses light hand pressure to stimulate specific parts of the body to remove energy blocks and to restore the patient/player's energy balance. Sessions last from 60 to 90 minutes.

Polarity treatment is used to increase vitality, decrease stress, and promote a state of relaxation.


This is one of the more mystical practices for balancing the body's life-force energy. All life forms are believed to have Reiki, or universal life energy. When the body's energy fields are out of balance, it can be restored by transmission of Reiki from a practitioner to the patient. Reiki Masters are graduates of a year-long course at a training center, and are capable of training other practitioners

In a typical Reiki session, the patient/player lies fully clothed. while the practitioner uses his hands to gently covers the patient's chakras (energy centers), organs, and glands. Recipients of Reiki often feel physical sensations, such as warmth, tingling, or lightness, and some see colors. Sessions last about one hour. Patient/players can be taught to self-administer Reiki. It is believed that Reiki also can be transmitted over long distances.

Reiki is used to restore health to both mind and body by channeling the body's life force. Proponents believe that Reiki treatment can be beneficial for almost any physical or emotional disorder.

Therapeutic Touch

This is a contemporary version of an ancient form of healing that involves the use of hands. Therapeutic Touch was developed by a nursing professor who worked with a spiritual healer. Its effects have been studied by medical researchers, who have found that it can alleviate pain and reduce stress.

The goal of Therapeutic Touch is to detect and then remove areas of congestion and weak spots in a patient's energy field. The practitioner usually does not touch the patient's body, but rather sweeps his or her hands a few inches above it. Some patient/players report sensations such as warmth or seeing colors.

The energy involved in Therapeutic Touch is thought to be available to all. Practitioners believe that restoring balance in the energy field will re-activate the patient's innate capacity for healing. Sessions last about 30 minutes. Therapeutic Touch is used in some hospitals and health care facilities.

Jin Shin Jyutsu

Jin Shin Jyutsu stimulates the capability of the body to heal itself by opening and unblocking energy pathways. Similar to the meridians used in Chinese medicine, these pathways also include 26 energy locks that are gateways for the body's cells.

The patient lies fully clothed and the practitioner rests his or her fingertips lightly on the energy locks until the flow of energy is restored. A session lasts about an hour.

Jin Shin Jyutsu induces relaxation, reduces stress, and increases circulation. Its adherents believe that it harmonizes body, mind, and spirit.

Zero Balancing

Zero Balancing is an energy approach to body-work. It represents a bridge between structural and energy work -- where East meets West.

Fritz Smith, the developer of Zero Balancing, is an acupuncturist and an osteopath. Zero-Balancing is a technique that uses a fulcrum which is a point around which energy moves within the context of bodywork

What you can touch is the structural body -- bones, muscle skin, etc.

The energy body is expressed in movement of muscles, vibrations on a cellular level, movement of body fields and chi (life -force). There are numerous studies that show that before disease occurs, there is usually a change in the energetic body.

When there is a balance between structure and energy, habits and emotional dysfunctional patterns are released as a working sign such as a deep breath, or eyes opening widely.

There is a specific protocol in this technique. In a typical session, client is clothed and starts off seated, then the session continues on a table. A session usually lasts 30-40 minutes. The practitioner holds a specific point on a bone for approx 1-3 seconds.

Most clients experience a sense of well-being with greater integration of their mind and body with expanded awareness. "Feeling balanced to Zero."