Rubenfeld Synergy Method

Movement is life. Whether it be the movement of limbs, molecules, cells, blood, breath or the life energy of chi, movement is essential for life to be present. Movement allows life to express itself, and life expressed is healthy and vibrant.

Supporting and restoring movement in one’s body and life is an essential element to moving freely and living fully. This is the underlying principle and overarching goal of the Rubenfeld Synergy Method of bodywork, a body-mind approach that involves a combination of touch and talk.

Physical and Emotional Challenges to Movement

When movement is limited or stopped, health and vibrancy are thwarted. Movement can be deterred by physical injury or illness, or more subtly through unexpressed emotions or limiting beliefs, according to the philosophy subscribed to by practitioners of Rubenfeld Synergy Method, also called Rubenfeld Synergists. Unexpressed emotions become repressed, suppressed or depressed and are held as contractions, knots and pain in the tissues of the body. When we contract, movement is limited. We can’t reach out, or take steps forward.

When invisibility is linked with safety, as it often is, for example, in an alcoholic or abusive home, there is a shrinking in and making smaller. Movement is diminished along with the sense of self. The spine shortens and the ribs compress—there is little room to breathe. When depression weighs a person down, the chest collapses, and moving in and through daily life becomes a Herculean task. Emotions are energy in motion, and when they are not moving—being expressed—they show up as holding patterns in the body.

Limiting beliefs formed by our family and cultural history also register in the body and restrict our movement. According to tenets of the Rubenfeld Synergy Method, for example, believing we are unworthy or not good enough rounds our shoulders and neck and bows our head; believing that hard work and struggle represent the only way of life shows up in a bodily hardness that doesn’t allow for the softness and suppleness that supports healthy movement.


A Rubenfeld Synergy Session

For the Rubenfeld Synergist, our body holds our story; its movement or lack of movement tells our tale. Through a gentle, listening touch and verbal exploration, Rubenfeld Synergists can help restore full and easy movement in the body and the being that dwells there.

The client is first invited into awareness of his body’s sensations, for sensation is the language the body speaks. The synergist then helps the client tune in and learn to listen to his body’s story, to hear the messages the muscles hold. Once the message is heard and understood, a new option can be made available.

For example, if a client’s shoulder is tight and contracted, a synergist would explore the message that muscle is holding. Perhaps what got registered in the shoulder was the client’s belief that “I have to hold myself together to deal with the stress of my job.” As long as this belief has a hold on the client, the shoulder will stay contracted, even after a tension-relieving massage. It is only when a new message is introduced that might convey support and alleviate the stress, that the shoulder will be able to release and maintain its freedom of movement. The client is then free from the habituated patterns and new choices are available.

I remember one client who had an injured foot. When she tuned into its message, she heard, “It’s time to stop running so fast and give yourself time to find balance.” Another client’s physical issues were resolved when she realized she needed to directly confront her husband about problems they were having.


Become a Rubenfeld Synergist

Learning how to work as a synergist is both accessible and affordable. There are three levels of certification training that build organically on each other. Each level is a combination of home-study webinars and in-person, hands-on training spanning an eight-month period. People of diverse backgrounds come to the training, including massage therapists, talk therapists and career changers. There are no specific prerequisites, and all the skills needed to practice are taught within the program.


Listen to the Body

When we connect to our body, we connect to our whole self—to our emotions, thoughts and spirit. Our bodies are wise allies and reliable guides as we move through life.

To learn more about the Rubenfeld Synergy Method, visit


About the Author

Noël Wight is a Master Rubenfeld Synergist and co-director of the Rubenfeld Synergy Training Institute. She studied and taught with founder Ilana Rubenfeld, and brings more than 25 years’ experience to her work. In addition to leading workshops and training programs, Wight maintains a private practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.