CranioSacral Therapy

What is Craniosacral Therapy?

CranioSacral Therapy is a subtle form of hands-on treatment which evaluates and optimises the physiological body system called the craniosacral system. The craniosacral system is made up of the cerebral spinal fluid and the membranes that surround and protect the spinal cord and brain, stretching from the bones of the skull, face and mouth (known as the cranium) to the coccyx or tailbone (known as the sacrum), hence “craniosacral” therapy.

A light ‘listening’ touch is the essence of CST; in the same way as a counsellor might listen attentively to the client’s account of their circumstances, the CST therapist listens to the rhythm, like a heartbeat, of the craniosacral system, and a skilled practitioner can pinpoint the source of an obstruction or stress

The experienced hand contacts used in a CST session can awaken the body to become aware of its current state of health, and its own potential for healing. Once a source has been located, the practitioner’s touch can assist the natural movement of the fluid and related soft tissue to help the body correct itself and return to optimum functioning level.

Craniosacral Therapy can help to resolve underlying traumas, so that the stresses and strains of a lifetime, imprinted and replayed over many years, can finally be released. CST treatment claims to be as effective with emotional traumas as well as it does with physical traumas.

The conditions which have been found to respond to Craniosacral Therapy include: chronic pain, headaches, ME, migraines, backaches, neck pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and generalised muscular pains.  CST has been found to been particularly effective in babies and young children, calming unsettled and sleepless babies and treating learning difficulties and behavioural issues in children.


What to expect

A Craniosacral Therapy session generally takes place in a private and peaceful setting; the client, wearing comfortable loose clothing, lies on a treatment table. There is neither massage nor manipulation involved: simply gentle touch while the person being treated remains fully clothed.  The practitioner stands or sits at the client’s head, middle or feet, moving at various times throughout the session.

How a person feels during and after a session varies between different individuals, different practitioners and even different sessions. Most people find cranial sessions pleasant, calming and energising. People often describe having ‘had their batteries charged’, or as if a weight has been lifted from their shoulders.

Some people will remain silent during a session, others may talk a great deal, recalling hidden memories or expressing their emotions. Some may feel numbing sensations or they may experience momentary discomfort related to past events. Yet others feel so profoundly relaxed that they fall off to sleep. People often feel as if things are reorganising inside them.


Effects and Benefits

Craniosacral Therapy can benefit the body in a number of ways because of its influence on the functioning of the central nervous system— from strengthening overall health and increasing resistance to disease to alleviating a wide range of specific medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction.  Patients come to CST practitioners with the following conditions:

Chronic pain resulting from a car accident, sports injury or fall

  • Head, neck or back injuries
  • Post-Surgical Dysfunction
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries

Conditions for which other treatments has not been effective:

  • Migraine Headaches
  • Chronic Neck and Back Pain
  • Motor-Coordination Impairments
  • Central Nervous System Disorders
  • Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
  • Orthopaedic Problems
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Scoliosis
  • Fibromyalgia and other Connective-Tissue Disorders
  • Neurovascular or Immune Disorders

Treatment for Children with:

  • Learning Disabilities
  • Stress and Tension-Related Problems
  • Emotional Difficulties

Infant Disorders

  • Unsettledness in babies
  • Sleeplessness
  • Colic

Various sensory disorders.

  • Eye-motor coordination problems
  • Autism
  • Dyslexia
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Tinnitus
  • Vertigo
  • Neuralgias (such as sciatica and tic douloureux)

Craniosacral therapy sometimes includes dealing non-threateningly with the memory of past incidents (emotional, traumatic and accidents) that are believed to be stored by the body’s energy systems as ‘Tissue memory’.  Just as information is stored on a computer  hard disk; and therefore dysfunction, illness and pain frequently result in later years from these stored incidents. Craniosacral Therapists are able to non-invasively access those memory banks enabling tissues to release the memory and restore health.


Fascinating Facts about Craniosacral Therapy

  • CST was developed by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger,  D.O. in the 1970s. It’s based on the theories of William Sutherland, D.O. (an osteopath from the early 1900s); Dr. Upledger’s research at Michigan State University (1975-83); and extensive clinical application. Significant developments of Sutherland’s work have also been made by Franklin Sills at the Karuna Institute.
  • Dr John Upledger’s CranioSacral Therapy work was brought to the UK by John Page. He qualified in Osteopathy in 1979 and in Cranial Osteopathy in 1989. When he began to study with Dr John Upledger he immediately appreciated the science and clarity of the CST approach and felt that it was an important stage in the evolution of osteopathy. His commitment grew and in 1994 he and his wife Carol Houston started the Upledger Institute UK satellite.
  • One craniosacral therapist in the States explains CST : “With a touch that has no more pressure than the weight of a nickel ( like a 20-pence piece), Craniosacral Therapy can be a very effective Healing Modality.”
  • In a study in Ireland called, “The use of craniosacral therapy in a physically-impaired population in a disability service in Southern Ireland”, it was found that ‘People with physical disabilities used CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) including CST because … they perceived it to be more effective than conventional medicine. ‘No parent reported any worsening in their children’s condition. All families reported less stress between siblings and in the family set-up.’
  • A number of healthcare professionals have chosen to explore CST by undergoing a training courses. Included in the 38,000 healthcare practitioners who have been trained by the Upledger Institute are osteopaths, medical doctors, chiropractors, doctors of Oriental medicine, naturopathic physicians, psychiatric specialists, psychologists, dentists, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists and other professional bodyworkers.
  • A randomised control trial into fibromyalgia and associated depression conducted by researchers from different universities in Spain conclusively demonstrated that CST improves the quality of life for people with fibromyalgia, reducing pain and fatigue, improving their sleep and mood, and increasing physical function. It also reduces anxiety levels, partially improving the associated depression.


Professional Organisations

Craniosacral Therapy Association

The Craniosacral Therapy Association of the UK provides a professional foundation for the practice of craniosacral therapy. Members of the CSTA (registered as RCST) only practise craniosacral therapy after graduating from an accredited training school or college and are bound by the Association’s Code of Ethics.  Much of the Association’s work is focused on maintaining high standards of education and competency.

Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust

The Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust has been training practitioners in Craniosacral Therapy since 1989 and is established as a school of excellence offering in-depth courses in a clear and accessible way.
Successful completion of the course leads to a professional diploma in Craniosacral Therapy and graduates are awarded the designated letters B.C.S.T. (Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist). Furthermore, the Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust is fully accredited by the Craniosacral Therapy Association (CSTA), the professional body in the UK which maintains standards and protects both Craniosacral Therapy practitioners and their clients.

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