My journey with craniosacral therapy began with a stubborn persistent pain in my right arm resulting from a trapped nerve in my neck. painkillers were not effective and I felt quite frightened after a few months of continual pain. I asked a friend who had trained in craniosacral therapy to give me a treatment. I was very sceptical and after the treatment I felt calmer but no relief from pain. The next day however all the pain had vanished when I woke – and it did not return. What a relief! I started to look into training in this amazing therapy and went to study at the Craniosacral Therapy Education Trust with Michael Kern.
Craniosacral therapists learn how to sense and attune to rhythmic movements and flows of energy in the body. The work is done by facilitating states of stillness and calm, which promote healing and allow the person to feel better connected and deeply resourced. When the recipient is in such a state of stillness and calm the nervous system also becomes less activated, which can potentially bring about numerous health benefits, especially in terms of pain relief.
This short animated film will explain more about craniosacral therapy Introduction to Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy
Craniosacral therapists in the UK undergo an accredited training that usually takes two years of study. They learn first how to help a person feel calm and deeply relax, and then to attune to changes in the flow of energy in the body, in its tissues and fascia, and in the wider bioelectromagnetic field. Everyone has this ability – the human hand can feel changes as small as 1 micron (1000th of a millimetre), but we don’t normally learn how to use it. The work is essentially relational. We learn how to sense in our own bodies what is happening in the body of our client, and also how to calm and reorient ourselves to health, so that our client’s body can pick up on this and begin to let go of tensions and blockages.
These diagrams by Cherionna Menzam-Sills are useful to show these ‘three bodies’ that biodynamic craniosacral therapists attune to. Its rather like tuning into different signals on a radio.
Craniosacral Therapy – Clinical Applications and Research
Although craniosacral therapy is perhaps best known for its seemingly miraculous treatment of babies, its clinical applications have begun to develop further into the field of emotional as well as physical trauma. One project of interest uses craniosacral therapy to help army veterans suffering with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
There is some promising evidence that dementia sufferers are experiencing benefits from receiving Craniosacral Therapy
Craniosacral therapy may support and enhance the effects of other treatments, which is why I often combine it with acupuncture.
Origins and Development of Craniosacral Therapy
Craniosacral therapy emerged from osteopathy with its founder being William Garner Sutherland who discovered an involuntary system of ‘breathing’ in body tissues that he believed was important for the maintenance of health. Sutherland found that the central nervous system, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes it, also have a rhythmic motion. He decided the motion was propelled by an inherent life force that he named ‘The Breath of Life’. Sutherland described CSF as liquid light talking about it as ‘a great river of life’. The motion he called Primary Respiratory Motion. These are all thought to be crucial elements of maintaining the person’s health by Craniosacral therapists.
Dr Sutherland developed his work during the 1920’s and began teaching in the 1930’s until his death in 1954. In the 1970s Dr John Upledger started to teach the work to people that were not osteopathically trained, and coined the term ‘craniosacral therapy’, as the therapy was previously called cranial osteopathy, which would not have been appropriate for those not trained in osteopathy to use.
There are currently two main methods or approaches to Cranialsacral Therapy work: the biomechanical and the biodynamic approaches. It is not that one approach is superior to another any more than jazz music is better than rock – its a case of which you prefer and which feels more right for you. The differences are in truth subtle and hard to observe when craniosacral therapists do not actually ‘do’ much at all. The work is done in stillness. However, biodynamically trained craniosacral therapists orient themselves more to the underlying forces governing our body, whereas biomechanical practitioners tend to use more active manipulations and focus more on the results of these organizing forces.
Craniosacral therapists that are registered with the professional body – the Craniosacral Therapy Association have the letters CTA after their name.
I am supervised in my clinical work by Franklyn Sills who co founded the Karuna Institute. Franklyn has authored many seminal teaching texts on biodynamic craniosacral therapy.