Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a very gentle non-invasive, hands-on therapy and is suitable for everyone; including pregnant women, babies and the elderly. It is an individualized whole body approach, which allows and supports the body to restore its own health through a gentle contact from the practitioner. CST assists the body’s capacity for self-repair and helps to support the body’s natural healing process by finding its way back to its natural state of balance.
You will usually lie on a treatment table-fully clothed- while the therapist’s hands make a light contact with parts of the body such as head, arms, feet etc. This gentle approach does not use manipulation. The therapist listens, via the hands, to what is going on in your body, and identifies and helps to relieve pain or tension held there. You may feel a deep sense of relaxation and become aware of heat, tingling, pulsations or other sensations.
As Craniosacral Therapy is client-led, your therapist may ask you from time to time what you are experiencing and will help you to stay present with whatever your experience is. Your body will set the pace of work, so you will remain comfortable, in control and able to integrate the changes that occur. In Craniosacral Therapy the therapist listens to the rhythmic motion of the cerebrospinal fluid and invites stillness to connect the body’s inherent health. It is the body that knows what is required to bring balance (homeostasis) back in the body.
Since it is your body rather than your mind that sets the priorities, you may find that the reason you came for treatment is not what changes first. Some people find that it can take a few sessions to get used to what they are feeling. For these reasons you may need to consider having a series of treatments to gain the full benefit of Craniosacral Therapy and its cumulative effects.
During your session, you may:
Relax so deeply that you fall asleep, enter a quiet meditation – like state, feel as if you are dreaming while awake, enjoy a pleasant sense of warmth, softening, widening or floating, feel various range of sensation like tingling, buzzing hot or cold all part of the healing process.
At the end of a session, you may:
Feel relaxed but energised, find yourself breathing more fully and deeply, stand taller, feel more comfortable in your body, sense of peace, improvement in sleep patterns
Where does Craniosacral Therapy Originate?
Craniosacral Therapy owes its increasing popularity to the effectiveness of its gentle approach. All forms of Craniosacral work ultimately originated with the discoveries of Osteopath William G Sutherland when his attention was drawn to the temporal bone. The thought struck him “beveled like the gills of a fish for primary respiration”. Thus began Sutherland’s life long journey of investigating whether living skull expresses motion and whether this motion is physiologically important. In 1945, Sutherland had an experience that transformed his understanding of his approach to healing work, He found that the body experiences primary respiration that he called the “Breath of Life”; which he felt during gentle palpation (or hands on listening) of his clients. He now shifted to a holistic view of observing the human physiology and the potency of life from within to initiate and carry out healing processes – an innate intelligence of the body to heal.
These findings show that all cells in the body express a rhythmic movement which is fundamental to life and which has been called Craniosacral motion. At the core of the body the cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes and cushions the brain and spinal cord, expresses this motion in a tide like ebb and flow, (like the tides of an ocean), while bones, organs and other structures in the body follow their own particular patterns of movement. This motion is very subtle but a trained therapist is able to perceive this motion. Many practitioners have carried on the work of William Sutherland from John Upledger to Franklin Sills.
How does Craniosacral Therapy Work?
In response to physical knocks or emotional stress, the body’s tissues contract and sometimes, particularly when the shock is severe or accompanied by strong emotions, the tissue stays contracted. Any trauma, stresses, strains or tensions which remain in the body restrict the body’s functioning and may give rise to problems over the years. The effects may be both physical (such as back pain, migraine or digestive disorders) and emotional (such as anxiety or depression). Restrictions in the body’s functioning show up in the way that craniosacral motion is expressed. Craniosacral therapists are trained to feel this subtle motion in the body and can use it to find where there is congestion or restriction. Then using the hands to amplify the pattern the body is holding the therapist provides an opportunity for the body to let go of its restriction and return to an easier way of functioning. This frees the energy which the body was previously using to hold itself in contraction. So one of the benefits of the therapy can be an increase in the level of energy available. The resulting changes can bring greater ease on a mental or emotional level, as well as to the body.
Craniosacral Therapy is suitable for people of all ages, from babies to the elderly. Craniosacral Therapy is often beneficial for fragile or acutely painful conditions, as well as during pregnancy, after an operation, accident, fall or injury, and for young babies. By helping raise vitality and supporting the body’s own self-healing process, Craniosacral Therapy may aid people with almost any condition. But you do not have to be ill or have any particular symptoms to benefit from Craniosacral Therapy. The easing of life’s stresses, and the increased sense of vitality and well-being that Craniosacral Therapy can bring, is welcome at any time.
What can I expect during a session?
Your practitioner will take a written case history at your first meeting, listening with care to the reasons for your visit. This part of the session is important, both for gathering information and to establish a good understanding with your practitioner. The session typically lasts an hour, although this can vary. You remain clothed the whole time and will usually lie face up or on your side, or you may be seated. The practitioner makes light contact with your head, the base of your spine, and other areas, encouraging your body to relax and begin to make the changes it needs. Because the body functions as a whole, your practitioner may focus on areas other than where your symptoms occur.
How does CST help parents and children?
Restrictions arising during birth may result in colic, suckling problems, breathing difficulties, restlessness, and irritability. Babies and small children appreciate the way that Craniosacral Therapy speaks to them. It is a nonverbal language which they respond to particularly well.
Due to the gentle, yet effective, treatment Craniosacral Therapy is becoming popular with mothers, for themselves and their babies and their other children. Mothers and fathers often bring along babies for treatment, suffering from colic, sleeping trouble and digestive problems.
From the moment of conception, a child’s life is a whirlwind of change and development. These many changes bring along their own challenges and it can be helpful to have a range of supportive “tools” to address the issues.
Craniosacral Therapy is one such tool and is ideal for babies and children since the touch is extremely gentle and is carried out fully clothed. Craniosacral Therapy enables them to begin the important process of being aware of, and responsible, for their own physical and emotional health. It can also enable the child to relax and enjoy life for the first time, if he/she has had a stressful birth. It is not necessary for words to be used to convey how the treatment is being experienced, so it is ideal for babies and children with no, or limited speech.
Can CST help with trauma?
“Trauma is an integral straight jacket, created because something is so horrific that human beings became immobilized and that particular moment gets frozen in time. Trauma suppresses expression of life and suffocates our attempts to move on in our lives. It breaks our connection to ourselves, to others, to nature and to our spiritual source.” Peter Levine 1997 (re-translated from German Chm 2004)
“…[trauma] therapy needs to consist of helping people to be in their bodies and to understand their bodily sensations.” Bessel van der Kolk, MD
Nature gave all animals, including man, a system capable of regulating internal balance. This self-regulation is also known as the ability to maintain an inner balance called homeostasis and is the main function of the autonomic nervous system. A nervous system in trauma can be compared with a car in which the brakes and the accelerator are being applied at the same time. Trauma is therefore in the nervous system not in the story. Babette Rothchild explains this in her book, “The Body Remembers.”
Trauma is therefore a very wide topic and is unique to every person. Nobody knows which event in our lives will overwhelm our nervous systems into trauma. Sometimes the person experiencing the trauma does not realise their body is holding trauma. They just experience the symptoms and do not understand what is wrong with them.
It is the role of the body to protect us from dangerous situations (physical and emotional), but most of the time we are not aware of the warnings our bodies are giving us, or we do not trust our own instincts.
Craniosacral Therapy can assist people to familiarise themselves with the sensations in their body, recognise it, and, if there are restrictions, release it in a very gentle way.
What do people say about CST and their experiences?
- Reduction of or totally free of pain
- Greater physical health and flexibility
- Reduction and often totally free from headaches/ migraines
- More relaxed and calm
- more energy
- More awareness within themselves
- Feeling more connected and centred
- Sense of being more focused and productive
- Better sleep patterns
- Emotionally more stable
“Craniosacral has helped me to feel the connections between seemingly unrelated parts of my body and to heal in a way that is peaceful and gentle. I recommend it.”
“I have attended Craniosacral therapy sessions with Agnesia for about 8 months. These have helped me relax & heal. I am more positive, healthier and in control of my TachyCardia episodes.”
Marta Viljoen, Johannesburg South Africa, 06 March 2014: Therapist Visited:- Agnesia Agrella
“I have found since I started having Craniosacral Therapy over a year go first with Jane, then Mary, now Susan it is as tho I am on a journey to heal my body, I do feel better within look at things differently now, Every Person is different, Craniosacral Therapy is different for every one no two people the same, Each individual has their own journey of healing from the inside out.”
Amanda, Wiltshire UK, 01 March 2014: Therapist Visited :- Susan Alexandra
“Absolutely love cranial – so much more effective than osteopathy, physio and conventional medicine. Fantastic for body and spirit and made a huge difference in my life. Thanks Heidi!”
Charlotte Cox, Johannesburg and Guildford, 04 March 2014: Therapist Visited :- Heidi Williams
“Found my sessions very relaxing, helped easy my headaches and helped me ease into sleep.”
Tammy, Edinburgh Scotland, 26 February 2014: Therapist Visited :- Agnesia Agrella
“Craniosacral help with searing pain back of head , shoulder blade , Hip pain, Easier then it was,”
Amanda Thick, Wiltshire UK, 23 February 2014: Therapist Visited :- Susan Alexandra
“The best thing I did in 2012 was find Jane , went to her home for Craniosacral I have Fibromyalgia, back problem amazes me how it works but it does, Jane move to Ireland , I still have cranio.”
Amanda Thick, Nr Salisbury, January 2014: Therapist Visited :- Jane Shaw