Hellerwork for Psychological Conditions

Learn about Hellerwork, an alternative treatment for anxiety, stress, pain, and headaches.

Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.


Joseph Heller, a practitioner of Rolfing® structural integration (manipulation of the muscles), developed Hellerwork in 1979. Hellerwork is a form of structural integration that uses multiple techniques including deep-tissue bodywork, movement education and verbal interaction to improve posture. Each session may last from 30 to 90 minutes, and a patient usually does multiple sessions. Hellerwork certification involves a 1,250-hour program.


In general, Hellerwork practitioners believe that memory is held in the muscles and tissues of the body, as well as in the brain. Treating a patient at the structural level is thought to alter the psychological or neurologic state. Hellerwork is aimed at improving or restoring the body's natural balance and posture. There are numerous anecdotes about successful treatment with Hellerwork, although effectiveness and safety have not been thoroughly studied scientifically.


There is no evidence for this technique.


Unproven Uses

Hellerwork has been suggested for several uses. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially life-threatening. Consult with a health care provider before using Hellerwork for any use.

Carpal tunnel syndrome Headache
Musculoskeletal conditions Pain
Respiratory problems
Sports injuries
Tennis elbow

Potential Dangers

The safety of Hellerwork has not been thoroughly studied scientifically. In theory, Hellerwork may make some existing symptoms worse. Deep-tissue massage is not advisable in some conditions. Speak with a qualified health care provider before starting treatment.


There are numerous anecdotes about successful treatment with Hellerwork, although effectiveness and safety have not been thoroughly studied scientifically. You should consult a qualified health care provider before starting Hellerwork therapy to assure that no potentially dangerous medical condition is causing your symptoms.

The information in this monograph was prepared by the professional staff at Natural Standard, based on thorough systematic review of scientific evidence. The material was reviewed by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School with final editing approved by Natural Standard.


  1. Natural Standard: An organization that produces scientifically based reviews of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) topics
  2. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): A division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dedicated to research

Selected Scientific Studies: Applied Hellerwork

Natural Standard reviewed more than 25 articles to prepare the professional monograph from which this version was created.

One review is listed below:

  1. Hornung S. An ABC of alternative medicine: Hellerwork. Health Visit 1986;59(12):387-388.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 27). Hellerwork for Psychological Conditions, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Last Updated: February 8, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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