The Autonomous Nervous System: Opening the Door to the Ontological Potential of Rolfing® SI

An invitation for Rolfers to flow in the art of using the ANS to promote the nature of the being


Ida Rolf sought to promote human potential by helping clients to approach their highest and best selves. Even today, Rolfing® finds its deepest meaning and greatest success when the work facilitates the transformation of the client towards the fuller expression of self and its connection to the environment.

How can we bring this aspect of the work to the forefront in our practices?

In any Rolfing session or series, tracking the client’s process is key. This process can be tracked quite reliably by observing the client’s — and our own — ANS responses as they arise in the course of the therapeutic relationship. These responses are telling and can be explored, regardless of which taxon (structural, functional, psychobiological or energetic) is emphasized in the session. Once we learn the art of dealing with ANS responses, we can also learn how to modulate them to support the process.

ANS responses are best tracked and modulated – either using touch, language, following the flow of movement or through client education – within the context of a good therapeutic relationship which allows the practitioner to entrain with the client, sense the client and eventually support the client’s process by modulating the ANS response, all while retaining a sound interpersonal boundary.

Maintaining a good therapeutic relationship and tracking the clients’ processes through the ANS response enables Rolfing SI to reach the ontological level — the level at which we are supporting clients in more fully manifesting their best selves in relation to the environment, in being more of who they are.

It is at this level that the most successful Rolfing interventions happen — and by learning the art of using the therapeutic relationship to harness ANS response, you can help your clients achieve the full potential of the work.


In this workshop we will:

  • Discuss the potential of Rolfing SI for personal transformation.
    • How does a series or session reach the transformative level?
    • What factors might inhibit or prevent a process from reaching it?
  • Review the key qualities of a good therapeutic relationship, and gain a deeper understanding of why this relationship is key to a transformative process.
  • Review the fundamentals of the ANS and the Polyvagal System in particular.
  • Learn and practice how to:
    • Track and modulate ANS responses in our clients and ourselves.
    • Perceive the state of the client’s ANS in body reading.
    • Consider the ANS and the Polyvagal system in organizing intervention strategies
    • Take the ANS modulation into account when performing interventions in the contexts of the structural, functional, psychobiological and energetic perspectives.
  • Develop our understanding of how and why working with the ANS and the Polyvagal System allows our clients’ Rolfing processes — and our practices — to reach the transformative level.

About the Instructor

Dr. Pedro Prado’s research focus and signature approach to the clinical practice and teaching of Rolfing® SI concern how best to build bridges among the structural, functiona psychobiological and energetic perspectives. Dr. Prado, a clinical psychologist and former professor of Somatic Psychology, has been teaching Rolfing students for over 25 years in the US, Latin America, Europe, Japan, South Africa, and Australia. He is a member of the Advanced and Movement faculties of the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute®, and an Advanced Instructor for the Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute. Since 1981, he has worked to establish and nurture practitioner communities of Rolfing SI and Somatic Experiencing in his native Brazil
and throughout the world.


About the Assistant

Paula Mattoli, a Rolfer™ since 1995, is a member of the Basic and Movement faculties of Dr. Ida Rolf Institute®. She is also a Somatic Experiencing practitioner and practice supervisor, as well as a Matrixworks Instructor. Her particular interest is what happens in the body as a result of one’s experience interacting with others and the environment; and how, in turn, one’s structural, functional and perceptual patterns shape and influence those interactions. Her focus is on relationships.


Practical Information

The workshop will take place from Monday 21st of September to Sunday 27th of September 2020.

The price of the workshop is 1200CHF, and the early bird price (until the end of May) 1100CHF.

For more information on payment and registration, click here.