Craniosacral Therapy is an extremely gentle form of whole body treatment. It involves a delicate touch of the therapist's hands upon various parts of the body, usually including the head and spine.
As the Craniosacral Therapy Association describes it, "When a practitioner places their hands lightly on you during a therapy session, they are using them to listen to you in much the same way that a counsellor might listen to your words. Your body responds to this sensitive touch by beginning to listen to itself. A feeling that you have been heard in the truest sense of the word is a common experience during and after a CST session". Whilst every life experience influences us, it is the most traumatic that leave a lasting impression, leading to dysfunction and, sometimes, symptoms of illness. Craniosacral Therapy can help us let go of restrictive patterns and experience better health.
I'm sure you're familiar with the Stress Response and what effects that can have upon you and your body – disrupting your sleep, clarity of mind, ability to feel calm and safe and impeding healing. Craniosacral Therapy invites and enables the body to experience the opposite, the Relaxation Response. Which also affects the body and mind but instead encourages and helps – as the name implies – relaxation as well as a sense of safety and assurance, which paves the way for the healing process.
What to expect from a CST session
For your first session, I will take time to listen. I'll discuss with you your reasons for coming, get to know a little bit about your history, and establish an initial understanding of why we're working together.
A session typically lasts about an hour, but this may vary. You will normally lie down on your back or side, fully clothed. I will then gently place my hands on various parts of your body - usually your head, neck or areas of your spine, among others - inviting your mind and body to sink into a more relaxed and open state of awareness.
A core principle of my approach is one of helping to improve the relationship between body and mind, coming from a place that acknowledges an "inner wisdom". Each session then consists of listening to what your 'system' is doing and strengthening its ability to calm, relax, rebalance and ultimately heal.
Who can benefit from Craniosacral Therapy?
Anyone may benefit from Craniosacral Therapy. We are all influenced – body and mind – by many things such as our birth, family background, lifestyle, accidents, injuries, as well as the day-to-day ups and downs of modern living. The many stresses we face today affect not only our physical body but also our sense of self and how we feel about life. When too much pressure is placed upon us, whether physically or mentally, we can struggle to meet the strain, and our body and emotional systems can defend us by containing the trauma and separating it off from the rest of us. This may be experienced as stress and anxiety, aches and pains, or dysfunction in organs and bodily tissues. Yet, Craniosacral Therapy considers people as an integrated whole, recognising that we are mind and body, thoughts and feelings. As such, our health is complex.
Craniosacral Therapy aims to enable our body and mind to process our life experiences, particularly traumatic ones, more effectively. So, whether young or old, fit or unwell, Craniosacral Therapy may help us to have more resources available when we need them.
As well as helping with a range of physiological and emotional problems, Craniosacral Therapy can be particularly relevant when we are undergoing significant change. For example, during pregnancy and birth, in early babyhood, when moving home, changing job or grieving the loss of a loved one.
Where did it come from?
Craniosacral Therapy has been gradually growing and developing as a discipline for about the last 100 years. It was in the late 1930s that William Garner Sutherland, an osteopath, first developed the practice of Cranial Osteopathy, and suggested that the movement of the bones of the cranium was directly related to our state of health and that their motion reflected something that he referred to as 'the breath of life'.
Over the years many others have built upon Sutherland's work, taking therapeutic practice with the Craniosacral System in related, yet subtly different directions. Some of these include James Jealous, John Upledger, Franklyn Sills and Thomas Attlee. Within these divergent schools of thought, practitioners can be referred to as Cranial Osteopaths and Craniosacral Therapists, yet often the experience of treatment from one or the other may differ very little.
Within the UK, the practice of Craniosacral Therapy and Craniosacral Therapists is grouped into two main camps: colleges and practitioners registered with the Craniosacral Therapy Association of the UK and those registered with the the Upledger Insitute. Whereas Cranial Osteopaths are more likely to be affiliated with the the UK Sutherland Society.
Is it safe?
Craniosacral Therapy is believed to be one of the safest therapies available today. Its gentleness and non-manipulative approach mean that it is particularly suitable for the most physically vulnerable, such as babies and those in very painful conditions.
However, safety is about more than just absence of physical harm. Suitably trained Craniosacral practitioners recognise that part of any therapeutic environment is creating an appropriately safe space both physically and emotionally so as to facilitate healing that is deeper and more wholly integrated.
I personally do not work with babies or small children, I only work with adults.