Dr. Ida P. Rolf was the founder of Structural Integration. A brilliant, curious and driven woman, Ida was born in New York in 1896. Ida graduated from Barnard College in 1916 with a Bachelor's Degree, and was subsequently offered work as a researcher in the field of Biochemistry at the Rockefeller Institute. This work eventually led her to Columbia University, where she received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1920. It was around this time that she began to formally develop her system of organizing the human body in relation to gravity through fascial manipulation which would come to be known as Structural Integration, and later, 'Rolfing'. She went on to study Math and Atomic Physics at the Swiss Technical University in Zurich, and in 1971, founded the 'Guild for Structural Integration,' later to become, 'The Rolf Institute for Structural Integration.' Dr. Rolf passed away in 1979 at the age of 82.
Deeply rooted in Dr. Rolf's original 10 Session Series of Structural Integration, Soma Structural Integration is a branch of Rolfing. The Soma Institute of Neuromuscular Integration was developed in 1977 by one of Ida's students, psychologist and accomplished Rolfer, Dr. Bill Williams. Dr. Williams found his training in psychology expanded his approach to Structural Integration beyond the body's physical structure to include the body-mind connection. The added layer of acknowledging body, mind and spirit as an inseparable whole system supports the multidimensional being and distinguishes Soma Structural Integration from other branches of work. Dr. Williams and his wife, Ellen Gregory-Williams, Ph.D., ran the Soma Institute from its' inception until 1986 when Karen Bolesky, M.A., took the helm.
Karen L. Bolesky, M.A., L.M.H.C., L.M.P., LAMP, CSP, has been a psychotherapist and licensed mental health counselor since 1975, with a broad scope of psychological and somatic training. She has studied Gestalt therapy with the Polsters, grief therapy with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D., and drawing interpretation with Gregg M. Furth, Ph.D. Her B.A. is in Fine Art, and she uses drawing interpretation as a tool to enhance personal development. She learned nutrition and business in Florida through ownership of health food stores. Her powerful work with her clients and students; tapping their personal creativity and the capacity to help them manifest their vision and wisdom, is aided by her own synthesis of the creative process and knowledge of somatic education. "I want the student to leave with a true and deep sense of their own self, to live the work they are providing, to have a powerful experiential and academic knowledge of SOMA to take forth as a creative act."
My path to Soma® has been a lifelong one; touch therapy in many forms has been an interest since childhood. I had, rather organically, but informally, incorporated touch therapy into my life from an early age.
I pursued an education with broad strokes, finally graduating from the University of Washington with a BA in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences in 1996.
1996 was busy; in addition to graduating, I got married, had my first child and moved cross-country twice. In 1999, my second child was born, and in 2000, I moved back home to Washington. I have been here since 2001, strongly rooted in the Kent community.
The idea of pursuing a more formal education in touch therapy was on hold for a few years while I raised children, but came to the forefront again when a brief encounter with Soma® practitioner and instructor, Denise Foster, led me to go through the series. By session 3, I was hooked! I was amazed at how reconnecting to my body allowed me to connect to my life in a whole new way. The desire to get licensed and learn this work propelled me back to school; a difficult, but incredibly transformative experience.
A 2011 graduate of the Soma Institute for Neuromuscular Integration®, I am honored and excited to work with others in this capacity, and to continue to grow and evolve in my practice. Having seen first hand what this work can do, I am passionate about helping others experience their own lives in a more expansive, joyful, and balanced way.