What is Structural Integration?
Structural Integration (SI) is an interactive and holistic approach to manual and movement therapy, incorporating embodiment education. It combines myofascial manual therapy, the use of touch with movement to achieve profound results.
Structural Integration aims to improve the body's overall alignment, balance, and functioning to create a more harmonious and efficient structure.
This often results in a relief of pain, improved posture and movement, and enhanced overall well-being. SI practitioners help clients explore ways of experiencing their bodies with greater ease, comfort, and efficiency.
Through a series of sessions, SI addresses body-wide posture, movement, and pain patterns that have become habituated due to injury, stress, trauma, repetitive motion, or personality expression.
SI sessions typically involve a combination of hands-on techniques, movement interventions, and embodied exploration. Touch, movement, and embodiment interventions help address deeply held patterns and can lead to changes in posture, range of motion, and self-regulatory capacity. SI is sought after by people from various backgrounds, including athletes, dancers, office workers, labourers, musicians, artists, parents and children, and ageing individuals. It can be pursued as part of an individual's wellness plan or as a component of rehabilitation and integrative medicine approaches.
The three main interventions of SI are touch, movement, and embodiment. Touch involves slow, respectful manual therapy that communicates information to the nervous system and can lead to reduced pain sensitivity and increased body awareness. Movement interventions interrupt patterns of fixation and can help the nervous system integrate new movement options. Embodiment involves integrating sensations, emotions, and movement impulses in the present moment through interoception, exteroception, and proprioception. SI can be combined with other therapies and approaches to promote holistic health and well-being.
The treatment is system-oriented rather than symptom-oriented, meaning we use a holistic approach.
SI is a process-based treatment method, usually offered in a series of treatments, such as ATSI 12-series, as I offer them in my practice.
What does the ATSI 12 series entail?
The Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI) 12-Series process consists of 12 separate and progressively building sessions, although the actual number required may vary slightly.
In these 12 series, we work from superficial structures and patterns to deep. You learn to recognize your patterns, explore new ways to move, and learn how to use and move your body differently.
A series starts with a comprehensive intake, in which we discuss any complaints and set goals together. Only with your permission do we take photos to record and track your process visually during the 12-series.
A large part of the sessions will take place on the treatment table. Throughout the session, you will regularly step on and off the table to re-assess.
During the application of the myofascial techniques, I will frequently ask for movement from your side. This is because the effects are greater when the manual techniques are combined with movement. With this, the treatment differs greatly with any form of massage or passive treatment.
The touch and manual techniques can be intense and sometimes sensitive, but there is always direct contact and communication to determine and adjust the right intensity. You are "undergoing" the treatment, but you are part of the joint process and in the drivers-seat throughout.
Structure of the series
The first 4 sessions focus on the more superficial structures and patterns, "freeing" the tissues on the front, back and sides of the body and allowing the shoulders and arms to move more freely.
The middle 4 sessions focus on your body's core and work on the central stabilization muscles closer to the spine. These sessions also focus strongly on the pelvis, diaphragm and neck/jaw and face.
The last 4 sessions are all about integration, putting it all together, movement plays a big part here.
Possible Benefits of Structural Integration
The process of Structural Integration is an individual process with a wide range of effects and benefits. In general, a body in which balance between the different structures is more optimal moves with more flexibility, ease and efficiency. Moving can feel more enjoyable, breathing is easier, and a more optimal posture takes less effort.
Because the muscles can do their job more efficiently, the body can conserve energy, providing more energy and alertness.
Feelings of stress may also decrease. Structural Integration aims to influence a person as a whole, emotionally, physically and energetically, by changing the physical structure.
For example, our emotions and behaviour patterns are often related to our physical being. Structural Integration can help unlock one's potential, promote positive change, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, boost self-confidence, and can allow you to express yourself better emotionally. Structural Integration creates more body awareness and presence, giving you the feeling of finally being at home... in your own body.
Gesture becomes habit,
habit becomes posture,
posture becomes structure.
Loose appointment / One-off
As a client you are of course welcome to schedule an appointment for a single session of Structural Bodywork, for example, to see if Structural Bodywork/ Structural Integration fits you and if there is a match with me as a therapist. However, Structural Integration, as described, is generally offered in a series of sessions (such as the traditional 12-series or possibly the 3-series as an introduction to the work).
A series of sessions is most effective, as we work from superficial to deep throughout the sessions, focusing on the entire body.
If you would nevertheless like to schedule a single appointment, you can do so as 'One-off ("Losse Afspraak") Structural Bodywork' or as a 'Therapeutic Myofascial Bodywork' appointment of 90 or 120 minutes. In this I combine the myofascial manual techniques with my background as a physiotherapist. If you are not sure what is most suitable for you? Feel free to contact me to discuss this!
If you would like to come for a single session of Structural Bodywork, then, depending on your specific request for help, we will look more at the patterns that "stand out the most", and we will, for example, zoom in a more on an area and /or areas that we encounter during the Body Reading in posture and movement.
When desired, "flow-through"
In addition, it is of course also possible to only follow session 1 of the 3-series/12-series. This first session can be followed on its own, and this will give you a good introduction to the work, and an idea of whether Structural Integration is something for you. If you would want to continue after session 1, you could "flow-through" to either a 3-series, and from there a 12-series if you would want.
The ATSI 3-Series
The ATSI "3-series" is an introduction to Structural Integration. The 3-series consists of (minimum) 3 separate sessions of 90-120 minutes, which take place at intervals of 1-3 weeks. This can be aimed at addressing specific problems, injuries or posture patterns.
You can decide to follow the 3-series only, or, if you would want, continue and commit to the full 12-series.
After session 3 is a good time to stop if you feel this is enough for you. I do not recommend quitting halfway through the 12 series, as we will be diver into deeper structures in the body, and it is not favourable for your expected outcomes to stop halfway.
"Rehab & Prehab"
Structural Bodywork and Structural Integration can be applied within rehabilitation (rehab), as well as for the prevention of complaints ("prehab").