What is Hellerwork?

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  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: Jay Garcia
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2019
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Hellerwork is a form of somatic therapy that encompasses movement education, deep-tissue bodywork, and self-awareness. As a bodywork discipline, Hellerwork is concerned with restoring balance and ease of movement by primarily focusing on the fascia, or the connective tissue of the body. This is the extensive system of soft tissue fibers that envelops muscles and tendons and forms an attachment to bone.

Joseph Heller, a Polish native, developed this therapeutic modality in the late 1970s. His background as an aerospace engineer during the previous decade seemed like an unlikely inspiration toward studying bodywork. However, it actually provided the foundation for his vision. Hellerwork is a culmination of an expert understanding of structural stress and years of subsequent study in psychology, bioenergy, and gestalt.

Hellerwork does not attempt to cure disease, although it may provide short-term relief of certain symptoms. For that matter, therapy does not consist of "one shot" treatments to bring about any form of relief. Instead, Hellerwork is a progressive process that involves a series of sessions, the number and intensity of which are tailored to the individual. In each session, the patient learns to restore and integrate balance between the body and mind. This is achieved through conscious breathing exercises, guided movement, deep-tissue bodywork, and an awareness of related emotional patterns throughout.


The expression of habitual emotional patterns is what empowers the client the most while working toward the repatterning of body alignment and movement. One of the fundamental principles of Hellerwork is that emotional residue can take up residence in connective tissue in the form of tension. This is what can lead to blockages, knots and other restrictions. By acknowledging and releasing these emotions, a new sense of body awareness can develop and physical tension may be replaced by fluidity.

While all Hellerwork sessions are guided and coached by a trained practitioner, the healing process continues with the client after the sessions are discontinued. In fact, the last session in the series is referred to as "Coming Out" and is a unique experience for each individual. This serves as a reminder to the client that what they have learned from their therapist is more than mere breathing and movement techniques. The ultimate objective of Hellerwork is to provide the individual with the tools needed for sustained self-exploration, expression, growth, and balance.


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