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What is Craniosacral Therapy?

Craniosacral therapy has its roots in Osteopathy, which was founded in the 1800s. The osteopathic concept views the human body as an expression of a higher ordering principle of Nature.


Osteopaths recognise that all body parts work together instantaneously in harmonious co-ordination as one indivisible unit of function. Therefore, disease or disability of an individual structure signifies an imbalance in the whole, rather than a malfunction of an individual structure. The emphasis is on treating the individual as a whole, taking all his circumstances into account, rather than treating the condition or symptom. The approach is holistic, rather than reductionist.

Craniosacral Therapy was created from Osteopathy in the 1970s. It departed from Osteopathy in that it was taught to and practised by people who were not osteopaths and it specifically looked at the system that lies between the cranium (head) and sacrum (pelvic bone). Apart from the spine and the individual bones, this includes the brain, the spinal cord, the cranial and spinal nerves and the cerebrospinal fluid that circulates within and around these structures. These are all components of our central nervous system. In time, the scope of Craniosacral Therapy expanded to include the entire body.

In the 1990s the work evolved to incorporate a biodynamic approach. Although the biodynamic approach appears to be a new concept, it is in fact informed by the original osteopathic principles of the method. Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) involves working with the vital force responsible for shaping matter and forming and maintaining our bodies. This force moves through the body like the tidal motion of a wave as it arises from and rolls back into the ocean. As this natural force passes through the body, the bones, tissue and fluids are vitalised by it and move in response. Sometimes, their movement in response is limited by obstructive factors such as stress, environmental toxins, medication, injury, surgery, birth trauma or life experiences that have had a strong impact and have left an imprint on the system. These limitations or obstructions to the natural flow eventually lead to a decline in health. Restriction of movement corresponds to a reduction of the natural capacity to self-heal, creating a cycle which can lead to a variety of symptoms or to disease. Craniosacral therapists are trained to perceive variations in the subtle movement and to facilitate change in areas of stasis.

The practitioner is trained to embody a still, clear and meditative state of presence to facilitate the treatment. She can perceive and co-operate with the vital force, using a light biodynamic touch. There is no  mechanical manipulation of bone or tissue. The practitioner's touch is delicate and still and the contact is only with a view to listen to the client's system, not to impose external force. Often the contact is so light that it is not felt at all. 


The combination of the practitioner's presence, the quality of her touch and her recognition and understanding of the patient's body intelligence creates a safe relational field that has a powerful beneficial effect on the patient's central nervous system. When a nervous system is met in this way, it down-regulates by coming to rest, freeing up resources of repair and regeneration. The brain switches from fight or flight mode to rest and repair, restoring balance to the systems and accessing the body’s natural ability to heal. A state of balance is achieved within the body as obstructions melt away - this results in an increase in vitality, facilitating the recovery and regeneration of the body through its own natural process.

For the individual who has no particular health issue, the work brings deep rest and relaxation, proved to be optimal conditions for health and rejuvenation of the human body and spirit. It enhances vitality, supports the immune system and improves resistance to disease. It is particularly beneficial for the functioning of the central nervous system, promoting clarity of thought and improving the capacity of the individual to deal with the daily pressures of life in a healthy and integrated manner.

The work does not take the conventional approach to diagnosis and treatment. In fact, evaluation and therapeutics blend together and occur instantaneously during treatment sessions. Throughout the therapeutic process, the practitioner is learning about the patient. The system is dynamic, not fixed and unchanging – the state of the system varies, sometimes from one moment to the next, and from one treatment session to another. Throughout the process of evaluation, the patient is being treated. The practitioner’s state of presence and orientation facilitates and enhances the patient system's movement toward health and balance.

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