Craniosacral Therapy is an extremely gentle form of ‘whole body’ treatment. Perhaps the most well known principle of this approach is that each of us, within our cells, organs and bodily systems, expresses an intrinsic, subtle form of motion, which reflects our state of physical, mental and emotional health. This movement is often referred to as ‘craniosacral motion’.
Treatment therefore involves very gentle touch of the therapist’s hands upon various parts of the body, usually including the head and spine, in order to feel the rhythmic changes in qualities and connected-ness which is expressed by all our bodily tissues via craniosacral motion.
Whilst every life experience has an influence upon this movement, it is the most traumatic that leave a lasting impression, leading to dysfunction and, ultimately, symptoms of illness and disease. Therefore, by working with this inherent motion, Craniosacral Therapy can help us to let go of restrictive patterns and to experience better health.
Who can benefit from Craniosacral Therapy?
Anyone may benefit from Craniosacral Therapy. We all have a Craniosacral system, which nourishes and sustains us and is influenced by many things such as our birth, family background, lifestyle, accidents, injuries, together with the day-to-day ups and downs of modern living.
The many stresses we face today not only affect our physical tissues, 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 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 and as such our health is complex.
Craniosacral Therapy aims to enable our body and mind to process our life experiences, and 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 great 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. Certainly, 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.
A core principle of my approach is one of helping your system do the work and coming from a place that acknowledges a ‘wisdom in the body’ – in the cells, tissues, organs and systems. Each session then consists of listening to what your system is doing and strengthening its processes through subtle contact and a trust in the ability of a healing that comes from within as well as without.