There is a small but growing number of research studies on Rosen Method Bodywork. Although more research will be needed in the future, the evidence points to the effectiveness of Rosen Method for pain relief, creating a greater sense of personal well-being, more ease in interpersonal relationships, and improvements in mental and physical health.
I have written a review of some of this research in relation to describing the specifics of Rosen Method practice for the Journal Somatics, published in 2012. Specific studies are listed below.
Out of a sample of 53 Swedish RMB (Rosen Method Bodywork) clients, 48 described enhanced physical health, body awareness, reduction in depressed feelings, anxiety and stress, support for personal growth, and ability to self-initiate life changes as a result of RMB.
Detailed interviews with 11 RMB clients in Sweden showed that those who were satisfied with their treatment described trusted and caring interpersonal relations and a secure environment with their practitioners, where the participants felt accepted regardless of their problems. The interpersonal interaction seems to contribute to participants' increased awareness of their own capacities and motivation to independently develop new ways to manage health-related problems. Those who were dissatisfied with their RMB treatment lacked the feeling of a trusting, caring relationship with their practitioners.
In a qualitative study of 8 people who had received a minimum of 10 RMB sessions and who had experienced trauma in their lives, semi-structured interviews lasting 60-90 minutes were used to assess the client’s perception of self and practitioner. The results show that client’s perception of relational somatic presence (an awareness of the relationship between the therapist’s hands and the client’s body and resulting sensations and responses; the emotional, mental relationship between client and self, client and practitioner, practitioner and self) had a significant impact on their interoceptive awareness and safe regulation of emotion within an expanding window of greater arousal tolerance. Perceived relational authenticity in the RMB therapist fostered the client’s ability to sense, track, and express traumatic content, and to find more life-affirming ways to encounter the world that are conducive to healing. The RMB therapist’s perceived capacity for self-regulation, self-reflection, and embodied self-awareness is crucial in fostering body wisdom and trust in the client-therapist dyad.
People who participated in an employee wellness program in California that included RMB along with diet and exercise showed significant reductions in blood pressure, body weight and body fat and an increase in perceived quality of life.
RMB was effective in a significant reduction of long-term chronic pain and reduced intake of pain medication in this case study report from Denmark.
In a sample of five women with chronic low-back pain who received six months of Rosen Bodywork treatments, all reported less pain, less work disability, less fatigue, increased feelings of well-being and increased sense of control over their lives. More importantly -- in this study which tracked daily self-reports on measures of pain, fatigue, well-being, and sense of control -- it was found that ups and downs, feeling better and worse, were a normal part of recovery and may help to build resilience.
In a sample of 34 health married couples in Utah, aged 20 to 39 years, 15 minutes per day of Rosen Method "listening" touch (compared to a behavioral intervention control group) increased oxytocin and decreased stress hormones in both males and females, and also reduced blood pressure in males compared to the control group.
A pilot study in Sweden looked at the differences between a typical RMB session, lasting one hour with client unclothed, with a modified session lasting 30-minutes with clothing on. The subjects, 7 trained RMB practitioners who had extensive experience receiving traditional RMB, were each given a modified session and afterward, invited to stroll in a garden. During the modified session, all practitioners reported that they were able to make contact with their holdings and barriers and none of the participants mentioned anything about the clothing or blanket creating an impediment. All but two of the practitioners found that strolling around in a garden setting directly after the session deepened their own body awareness.
A study on the relationship of RMB and Mindfulness used 13 Rosen practitioners in the USA as subjects. This inquiry used semi-structured telephone interviews. It was found that mindfulness-based trainings and practices have served as valuable resources for personal and professional development for these Rosen bodywork practitioners and Rosen movement teachers. For the interviewees all of whom had decades of mindfulness practice, mindfulness guides them into a deeper understanding and expanded awareness; they experience a greater capacity to work with sustained attention and presence when practicing Rosen Method.
In an interview study on clients who received RMB sessions, they reported that RMB was helpful with experiences of physical pain including chronic and intermittent pain. It helped the participants cope with stress and associated physical and psychological symptoms, and with depression and anxiety. Participants reported that RMB was helpful for issues involving the emotions and for resolving trauma. Participants said that the combination of words and touch is a powerful way for them to access their wholistic, body-mind experience. The study also found that, over time, participants moved from feeling stuck and disconnected, to feeling safe and connected, to becoming willing to explore painful or difficult feelings, and finally to more ease and letting go and feeling transformed in mind and body.