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CranioSacral Therapy

by Carolan Evans(more info)

listed in craniosacral therapy, originally published in issue 13 - July 1996

Craniosacral Therapy is rapidly gaining recognition as one of the most gentle and yet powerful forms of holistic healing. It is a relatively new therapy, having been developed from one of those rare quantum leaps of inspiration by its founder, William Sutherland, an osteopath. Going completely against the established teaching of his time, he recognised a subtle motion within the intricate bony structure of the skull. He called this motion 'primary respiration', believing it to be of far more importance to our wellbeing than mere breathing!

During the next 100 years, more and more people were drawn to investigate this revolutionary therapy. At first, it was taught only to osteopaths, who were thought to be cranky even within their own discipline. Remember the struggles osteopaths have had to become accepted by the medical establishment and then think how difficult it must have been to establish a new science that went against even the accepted tenets of osteopathy.
Fortunately, however, the knowledge and skill has been made available to a wider cross section of therapists during the last twenty years, and more and more people have come to realise that here is a very powerful way of bringing the body back into balance and harmony.

No movement – no life!

How can this primary respiration be of such importance? Movement is life, and without movement there is no life. Think of the beating of the heart, the coursing of the blood and lymph through their channels, the wavelike movements of the digestive system. At the very core of the body lies the brain and spinal cord, within a bony protection and bathed in a special fluid, the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). As the subtle movements of the primary breath take place, that CSF travels along the core of the body, drawn upwards during 'inspiration' and flowing downwards with 'expiration'. This movement of fluid is like the movement of the oceans and has been called 'the Tide'. The subtle movement within the core of the body is taken up and expressed throughout the tissues and organs so that in an ideal body there would be a synchronised and harmonious rhythm within all the parts.

Naturally, there is no ideal body! Our systems meet physical and emotional stress and challenge by contracting, and in that contraction they disturb and disrupt the flow of the tide. It's as if the incoming tide is flowing onto a rocky shore; when it meets an obstacle, it has to find a way around. Where the body is fully resourced, the blockage is a temporary disruption: if the stresses are too frequent or the shock too great, however, the blockage becomes gradually established and can eventually lead to discomfort and pain. During our lifetime we may collect, and disperse, many different blockages; sometimes we are able to use our body's natural healing abilities and at other times we need help. The light touch of the trained craniosacral therapist is able to detect the blockage through the restricted flow of the fluids and to reflect this information back to the body, helping it to gather the necessary resources to re-establish harmony.

Not just for babies

There has been a great deal of publicity recently about the value of craniosacral treatment for babies and children. Their systems respond very effectively to this form of therapy, and it is extremely valuable in problems to do with suckling, hearing etc., and to problems that may relate to the birth process. What is becoming more widely accepted is the value of this therapy to all, adults and children alike. A wide variety of conditions has been found to respond to craniosacral treatment, ranging from the problems of back pain and sports injury to conditions of uncertain aetiology such as exhaustion, insomnia, learning difficulties and dyslexia.

What usually happens during treatment is that the client lies fully clothed on a treatment table and the therapist makes gentle contact, placing the hands lightly on the body. Traditionally, the contact is from the head and the base of the spine, the sacrum; in fact, any part of the body may be held. It is important to realise that the therapist is not actually 'doing' anything to the client. The process is a partnership in which the therapist assists the body to find its own vitality and healing resource.

During the treatment the client usually feels deeply relaxed. There may be tingling, shaking or a feeling of heat as structures and tissues release. Sometimes there may be emotional responses, the memories of happiness, sadness or times past, and these are valuable signposts to the process of healing. After treatment a client may feel energetic or tired, loose limbed or slightly achy but any side effects are mild and short lived. As the therapeutic partnership builds over a course of treatments, the responses will be more rapid as the body regains its innate healing abilities. It is possible for some problems to be resolved with one or two sessions, but usually more treatments are needed, for some clients require a period of a few weeks or months to reach a point where they feel different.

Finding a therapist

The Craniosacral Therapy Association (CTA) holds a register of suitably qualified practitioners who use the letters RCST (Registered Cranio Sacral Therapist). For a copy of the register and information about training please send a SAE to-: The Secretary, Craniosacral Therapy Association, Monomark House, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3XX.

The CTA is affiliated to the British Complementary Medicine Association which requires proof of high standards. Therapists complete a year of training at Post Graduate level, entry to the course being dependent on previous training in conventional or comple- mentary disciplines plus a thorough knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology. For information regarding trainings please send a SAE to: The Registrar, 67 Tritton Gardens, Dynchurch, Kent TN29 0NA.

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