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The Method



I begin by saying that I am a virtuoso of this work. A virtuoso is someone who operates at a high level of mastery -- someone who has mastered standard procedures and someone who can improvise at a high level of performance. My virtuosity shows up in the private clinical sessions I conduct with clients who come to me from all over the planet, in the self-relief programs I have created for people who can't get to a practitioner, and in my prolific development of procedures that have enlarged the range of conditions addressable by Hanna Somatic Education®.
Hospital Business Card
I am also a prolific writer in the field of somatics, bringing together multiple disciplines, such as health care, spiritual development, the social sciences, human development, politics, and others, as seen in my blog, Full-Spectrum Somatics, as writings that illuminate, clarify, and simplify understanding of these seemingly diverse fields, as manifestations of the development and evolution of human somas (mind-body, living beings). I am what some people refer to as, "a highly-functioning human being" -- more so now in my sixties than I was in my 30's or 40's. I have done what Thomas Hanna exhorted us to do during our training: "walk your talk".

People who first meet me often ask my how I got involved in the field of somatics. I've usually given them the short version of the story; here is the longer version. You'll learn of my history of injuries and how what I practice enabled me to recover from them and to better serve others.

My History of Injuries

When I was ten years old, I was struck by a car while riding my bicycle. A low-speed collision, I took a fall and emerged with a bent bicycle wheel but without broken bones. Then, when I was fourteen, I fell off a second-story balcony and landed on my feet -- on concrete. My heels hurt so much that I walked on my toes for weeks. When I was nineteen, I developed a case of tendonitis in my right hand and wrist so painful that I couldn't use my right hand.

After medical treatment with bracing and cortizone injections for tendonitis failed to help my hand and wrist at all, Rolfing® took care of the problem and got me exposed to, and interested in, the field of somatics. I liked Rolfing so much that I asked my rolfer for more frequent sessions. He made me wait, saying that I needed more time to integrate the changes. I asked how I could speed that integration, and he told me about and taught me a set of somatic education exercises developed by Judith Aston in collaboration with Ida Rolf -- then called, "structural patterning", later called Rolfing Movement-Integration, or just Rolfing Movement.

At twenty, my Volkswagen was rear-ended by a Pontiac; when I was thirty-six, I sustained a soft-tissue injury to my neck that left me unable to bow my head forward or back, or turn more than thirty degrees left or right without searing, intolerable pain. At thirty-eight, I developed sciatica -- a feeling like a hot cable running down the back of my right leg. I drove my car by using my left foot for clutch, accelerator and brake.

It was in that condition -- with neck injury pain and sciatica -- that I came into training under Emmet Hutchins, Ida Rolf's first appointed 'teacher in perpetuity' in the methods of The Rolf Method of Structural Integration; and then into training under Thomas Hanna in the methods of Hanna Somatic Education®; and then into training under Stacey Mills, at the time the world's oldest living Rolfer.

The sciatica disappeared during my first week of training with Thomas Hanna, under the ministrations of my co-students, and it never returned. I was able to reduce the intensity of the neck injury pain by fifty percent the day I learned the prime clinical technique of Hanna Somatic Education, "assisted pandiculation", in one self-administered two-hour session in the room where I stayed during training. The rest of the problem took years to figure out and gave me the understanding and methods to help others with neck pain problems.

When I was 41, I sustained a right knee injury trying to "crack" it to get rid of an annoying sensation in the joint. Well, I cracked it, all right. The sudden new knee pain went down the core of my leg into my ankle. My knee felt broken. The methods of Hanna somatic education were insufficient to clear up that problem, but combined with structural integration, resulted in a rapid restoration of comfort and knee function that I have to this day. That incident made that point to me how synergistic the two systems are, and I was later able to help a friend diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and referred for surgery, to recover knee stability without surgery. (One might wonder how we did that, given that the surgeon wanted to drill a hole in his tibia, cut the gracilis muscle and attach it through the hole. The answer: by organizing the soft tissue wrapping around the knee for balanced support in movement, we were able to stabilize the knee joint -- again, a combination of somatic education and structural integration.) My friend soon returned to playing frisbee football.

That same year, my compact car was totalled in a rear-end collision two blocks from my office. My eyeglasses ended up in the back seat and the contents under the driver's seat ended up around my feet. After my car was towed away, I walked back to my office and, using somatic education techniques, did for myself something similar to what I now do with people who have had whiplash injuries. The fellow in the car ahead of mine, shielded by my car and the second-hand recipient of the impact, I later learned, underwent therapy for a whiplash injury. I had no after-effects from the collision and I ended up with a better car.

Photo of Lawrence Gold in session

Qualifications and Background

After two years' preparatory coursework for training as a Physical Therapist, I earned certification in Hanna Somatic Education and the Dr. Ida P. Rolf Method of Structural Integration. For two years, I served as an Associate Instructor with the Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training. I have created an advanced handbook of practice for professional practitioners and self-relief programs for back pain, sciatica, psoas muscle problems, breathing difficulty, and general movement health.

hands in touch As part of the Novato Institute training team, I presented Hanna Somatic Education to workshop participants at Esalen Institute at Big Sur, California; as a guest lecturer, I presented Hanna Somatic Education to classes at Life Chiropractic College West, at the 1992 Natural Health Convention organized by the National Health Federation, at the 2003 New Mexico Conference on Aging ("Somatic Healing"), at the 2004 Head-to-Toe 9 Conference for Educators (playable link: "Using Your Brain to End Your Pain"), and a guest on numerous shows across the USA.

I practiced for two years (1997-1999) at the Wellness and Rehabilitation Center of Watsonville Community Hospital, in California, and for one month as a consultant at Farmington Valley Physical Therapy ( in Unionville, Connecticut.

(click to) View actual letter.
This is a letter to recommend Mr. Lawrence Gold in the highest regard. Lawrence is, by training a massage therapist and a certified Hanna Somatic Educator. He has worked at the Wellness and Rehabilitation Center since my coming there in August, 1996. He has assisted us in treating a very diverse and multiple-injured patient population. The majority of the patients seen at the Wellness Center are those who have usually defied a diagnostic agreement amongst physicians.

His utilizing Hanna Somatic Re-education has allowed these patients to regain what the chronicity of their injuries has taken from them. Lawrence’s treatment techniques and keen eye in evaluation have been a key modality to restore balance to these altered systems. Lawrence’s ability to diagnose, educate, and restore a better understanding with patients is his best attribute. He is well written, well-spoken, and is an asset to have as a key staff member in a multi-disciplinary approach to musculoskeletal injury and chronic pain.

In closing, I recommend Mr. Lawrence Gold with the highest regard and would be happy to speak to any of those reading this letter in person in more detail.

Sincerely yours,
Janine M. Talty, Doctor of Osteopathy, M.P.H., Biomechanics
Watsonville Community Hospital, California
telephone (831) 768-8095

To Whom it May Concern:

Lawrence Gold has demonstrated himself to be highly talented, capable of handling a wide range of complaints, and exceptionally thorough in his evaluation procedures, in his clinical methods, and in his documentation.

His methods have proven effective with muscular spasticity, pain, movement limitations, and paraesthesias that have not [been] resolved with standard physical therapy methods.

Based on my experience, I regard Hanna Somatic Education as an invaluable treatment option and believe that your patients would consider themselves fortunate to have his services available as a treatment option.


Richard A. Bernstein, D.O., Physiatrist
The Wellness and Rehabilitation Center of
Watsonville Community Hospital, California


  • Movement 2017: The International Conference on Movement and Cognition
    July 9-11, 2017, Oxford University, Oxford, U.K.
    The Pandicular Response: a Neuromuscular Action-Pattern to Eliminate the Lingering Effects of Traumatic Injury

  • Head-to-Toe 9: Conference on School Health
    March 28-30, 2004, Albuquerque Convention Center, New Mexico
    Somatic Education

  • The New Mexico Conference on Aging
    August 19-21, 2003, Glorietta Conference Center, Glorietta, New Mexico
    The Silver Lining: Celebrating Aging for 25 Years |
    Somatic Healing: Somatics, a new discipline to overcome pain and stiffness associated with aging and injury

  • National Health Federation
    1992: Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco
    Beyond the Myth of Aging
  • Townsend Letter for Doctors
    • A Functional Look at Back Pain and Treatment Methods
      November, 1994, #136, pg. 1186

  • American Journal of Pain Management
    • Pain Relief through Movement Education
      January, 1996, Vol. 6, no. 1, pg. 30

  • Somatics, Magazine-Journal of the Bodily Arts & Sciences
    • Gaining Grace -- A Somatic Perspective
      autumn/winter 1992-93, Vol. IX, no. 1, pg. 34

    • An Expanded View of the Three Reflexes of Stress
      summer/fall 2000, Vol. XII, no. 4, pg. 12

  • The Therapeutic Specialist's Quarterly Report
    WHITE SPACE(publication of The International Association of Therapeutic Specialists)
    • Pain Relief through Movement Education (sensory-motor integration): Introducing Hanna Somatic Education
      summer, 1997, Vol. II, Issue VI, pg. 2

  • Massage & Bodywork Magazine
    • Staying Grounded
      January/February 2011, pg. 44

    • Somatic Education, Therapy & Health Care
      winter, 1996, Vol. XI, no. 1, pg. 30

    • Why Somatic Education is a Body-Mind Thing
      summer/fall, 1997, Vol. XII, no. 3, pg. 116

    • Posture, Structure, Bodywork, and the Sense of Self
      spring, 1998, Vol. XIII, no. 1, pg. 38

  • Good Medicine Magazine
    • Hanna Somatic Education for Relief of Pain

  • The Health and Fitness Connection
    • Gain Agility and Ending Pain with Somatic Education
    • The Movement Movement

  • Body & Soul
    • Free Your Hamstrings, Preserve Your Knees!
      September, 1993, Vol. VIII, no. 15, pg. 15

    • Truth in Medicine
      October, 1993, Vol. VIII, no. 16, pg. 11

    • Somatic Mastery
      November, 1993, Vol. VIII, no. 17, pg. 15

    • Car Seats and Your Back
      January, 1994, Vol. IX, no. 1 & 2, pg. 7

  • Vet Pulse
    • Free Your Hamstrings -- Save Your Knees
      March 11, 1994, pg. 6

  • The AHP Somatics and Wellness Community Newsletter
    • Defining Somatic Education
      December, 1994, pg. 5