Dr. Ida Rolf’s Successor, First President of The Rolf Institute , Founder of Hellerwork Therapy and Hellerwork International Institute of Structural Integration and Author
Joseph Heller started his career as an aerospace engineer, where he gained extensive experience with the study of structural stress. However, he discovered a fasciation with bodywork upon involving himself in the study of humanistic psychology. Ultimately training under Dr. Ida P. Rolf, the originator of Structural Integration, and becoming a Rolfer in 1972, Heller continued his studies through 1978.
He became the first president of the Rolf Institute in 1975. Under the tutelage of Judith Aston, he also became a Structural Patterner, for which he pursued advanced training with Dr. Brugh Joy.
Joy was a particularly noted practitioner of preventative medicine and energy-based healing. As a result of his unique combination of expertise and training in structural integration, movement education, and body energy awareness, Heller began to synthesize a new form of bodywork and thus broke away from Dr. Rolf’s school of study.
In 1978, he left the Rolf Institute and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he founded the Structural Integration school known as Hellerwork. Joseph Heller has been more concerned with synthesizing three streams: bodywork, movement education and the conversation that relates mind and body. Turning to Somatic Education, he wished to address the whole person in relationship to movement, physical and psychological awareness, learning, and their environment.
Holistic theory states that how we live is central to the health we experience – that is, how we eat, exercise, relax, breathe, love, and think. The changes that the world is going through affect each of us physically, emotionally and mentally. With this in mind, Hellerwork is as much educational as it is therapeutic.
With its focus on empowering clients, it is teaching a profound level of self-responsibility, where the expert is the person themselves. Recognizing and having the experience of how the mind affects the body, in turn, came to be seen as very empowering.