Craniosacral therapy is a non-invasive, ‘whole body’ therapy which can be used to help diagnosis and treat a wide range of conditions.
What can Craniosacral Therapy treat?
Because craniosacral therapy influences so many of the body’s systems, practitioners claim it can treat almost any condition including:
- back and neck pain, whiplash injuries
- problems during and after pregnancy including depression
- emotional disturbances including tension, anxiety
- tinnitus and visual disturbances
- post viral syndrome
- ME and glandular fever
- fatigue and lack of energy
- after-effects of illness, accident, operations or injury
- dyslexia and learning difficulties
- hyperactivity, ear infections, colic, feeding difficulties, epilepsy and cerebral palsy in babies and young children
- compression of the skull due to difficult birth and after-effects
- digestive problems
- headaches and migraine
- respiratory problems such as asthma, sinusitis and bronchitis
The principles of craniosacral therapy were developed at the turn of the century by US osteopath Dr William G Sutherland, a student of Dr Andrew T. Still, founder of osteopathy. At that time, it was believed that the bones of the cranium ossify or fuse into immobility in adulthood. While studying a skull, however, Sutherland noted that there was mobility within the skull with no muscular actions to account for it. The temple bones, for example, can move rather like "the gills of a fish".
Central to craniosacral therapy is the concept of the craniosacral system which, together with the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, is one of the three fundamental lifegiving systems in the body.
The craniosacral system is a physiological system which manifests in all body tissues and can be identified by its subtle, tide-like motion throughout the body. Its anatomical components are: the membranes surrounding the central nervous system and enclosing the cerebrospinal fluid (the clear fluid that circulates around the brain and the spinal cord and which is encased by membranes); the bones of the cranium and the sacrum; and the fascia (a protective layer, enclosing muscles and supporting organs).
All these structures pulsate in a balanced rhythmic motion. Strain anywhere within the system can induce and perpetuate disorders in the rest of the body. And, any physiological imbalance within the body will be reflected in an assymmetry of the system.
Consequently, craniosacral therapy can be used to diagnose and treat dysfunction anywhere in the body. By responding appropriately to patterns of dysfunction in the craniosacral system, the therapist can encourage the release of craniosacral restrictions. This, in turn, encourages the release of disorder and illness in the body.
Craniosacral therapy is aimed at treating the whole person, enabling the body’s healing mechanism to operate at an optimum level to facilitate and maintain good health. A number of therapists have continued to develop the theory and practice of craniosacral therapy including US osteopath Dr John Upledger, Dr Roland Becker, James Jealous and Franklyn Sills.
Consultation and treatment
During the initial consultation, your practitioner will take a full medical history. Treatment is carried out with the client lying down, fully clothed, in a peaceful, quiet environment. The practitioner places his or her hands on the client’s head or other appropriate part of the body and palpates imbalances within the craniosacral system. During this time, the practitioner receives information through touch from the body about restrictions and motions within the craniosacral system and can begin to treat those imbalances. One or two treatments may be sufficient but often more sessions are recommended.
Prices per session range from £30 to £50. Sessions last from 30 to 60 minutes; the initial consultation usually lasts an hour.
The techniques of craniosacral therapy itself must be performed by a qualified practitioner only. However, your practitioner may also offer lifestyle, dietary, exercise and nutritional advice.
How to find a practitioner
The Craniosacral Therapy Association holds a list of over 300 accredited craniosacral therapists. To register, practitioners must successfully complete professional training that meets the Association’s standards. The training is postgraduate and must follow a previous medical qualification. It includes a minimum of 300 hours tuition and 400 hours project work. During the first year of practice, therapists are under mandatory personal supervision and are required to do further advanced courses.
Craniosacral therapy is very gentle and non-invasive and can be used in painful or delicate conditions. It is suitable for every age from newborn babies to the elderly. However, tell your practitioner if you have a recent history of stroke or have suffered recent uninvestigated head trauma or fracture.