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Psychotherapist holds workshop focusing on mind, body

Rubenfeld says every important life experience is stored in the body; she uses touch and talk in therapy

Ilana Rubenfeld plans a workshop called The Body Tells the Truth Wednesday at Windmill's Ashland Hills Inn in Ashland.

The evening includes a lecture, a mind/body exercise and demonstrations of getting in touch, both emotionally and literally, with feelings. Rubenfeld is the primary practitioner of the system of therapy and bodywork that bears her name.

Author Jean Houston (Mystical Dogs, A Passion for the Possible) plans to introduce Rubenfeld. The event is a benefit for Community Works-Dunn House, Mediation Works and the nonprofit Rubenfeld Center.

Rubenfeld says that every important experience, every trauma, is stored in the body. In therapy, she touches her clients as they talk.

Touch is another language, she says. Compassionate, healing and listening hands are the cornerstone of this method.

It's said of Rubenfeld that she directs mind/body energy like a symphony conductor. It's an apt comparison. She graduated from the Juilliard School of Music and was a conductor until debilitating back spasms struck her down. The experience was a blessing as well as a curse, since it got her interested in pain and healing and led her to change her career from music to psychotherapy.

She sought help from a practitioner of the Alexander Technique, which taught balanced posture. As she got in touch with the tension she'd been holding in, she felt a need to talk. But her therapist said no talking.

So she saw a Freudian psychotherapist and wound up with a therapist who talked but didn't touch, and one who touched but didn't talk.

She went on to develop what she calls the Rubenfeld Synergy Method of talk and touch, a combination of psychotherapy and body work, in the 1960s. A pioneer in body-oriented psychotherapy, she has for the last 25 years trained Rubenfeld practitioners across the country. A psychotherapist but not a physician, Rubenfeld does not diagnose illnesses.

She went to the Manhattan School of Music, then Juilliard, where she became an assistant conductor under Leopold Stokowski. She did graduate work in science at the University of California at Berkeley, City College of New York and New York University.

She studied for eight years with Moshe Feldenkrais, the founder of Functional Integration and Awareness Through Movement. She also worked with Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy. Buckminster Fuller told her what she was doing was a synergy method.

Rubenfeld came to Ashland to visit a friend, fell in love with the town and moved into Mountain Meadows retirement community.

She is known for her humor. She says laughing interrupts suffering.

It also makes fear manageable, she says. You can develop a sense of humor with practice.

Reach reporter Bill Varble at 776-4478 or e-mail

If you go

WHAT: The Body Tells the Truth, a benefit workshop.

WHEN: 7 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday26.

WHERE: Windmill Inn, Ashland.


36;10 at SoundPeace, Paddington Station, or at the door.

CONTACT: Call 488-4203 or e-mail jmarkulis@hotmail.com. Visit .