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Craniosacral Therapy

Use Go To See to learn about Craniosacral Therapy (CST) & answer any questions you may have about this therapy. We can also help you find your nearest Craniosacral Therapist using our practitioner database.
Craniosacral Therapy

In This Article
History How does it work?
A typical appointment Timings/ Sessions/ Costs
Is it right for you?
Craniosacral therapy (CST) evolved from conventional osteopathy first used by physician Andrew Taylor Still in the late 19th century. In the early 1900s, osteopathy student William Sutherland challenged conventional osteopathic thinking about the fused bones of the human skull. Sutherland proposed that these bones were not in fact fixed, but able to move and performed experiments to prove the effects of that movement on physical and mental well-being. Sutherland called his system of treatment 'Cranial Osteopathy'.

Craniosacral therapy was developed from Sutherland's cranial osteopathy by osteopathic physician John Upledger. In 1970, Upledger performed surgery on a patient's neck and noted the rhythmic movement of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This subtle pulsation was pressure in the membrane sac and along with cranial bone structure became part of the craniosacral system.

Upledger spent the next 15 years studying the craniosacral system and its effects on the body concluding that movement in the system is linked to physical, mental and emotional well-being. In 1985, the Upledger Institute was founded to educate the public and healthcare professionals on the benefits of craniosacral therapy .

Craniosacral therapy works by tuning into the craniosacral system to help treat sensory, motor and intellectual dysfunction. Fluids that pass around the brain and nervous system pulsate rhythmically (about 10 cycles a minute) and this movement gives an indication of a person's overall health.

The craniosacral therapist aims to improve the flow of fluids through the system that have become restricted by disease or disorder. This restriction blocks the body's ability to self-heal. By improving craniosacral flow, craniosacral therapy can alleviate neurological, physical and emotional problems.

Be prepared
It is advisable to choose a craniosacral therapy practitioner who is a member of, or is accredited by, an association or professional body. This ensures your CST session is carried out in a suitable environment and by someone who has received formal training and ongoing development. Members are also bound to a code of ethics and practice. The main CST organisations are listed at the foot of this article.

On finding a craniosacral therapist, ask about their expertise and testimonials from previous clients. Before your appointment, think about what you hope to achieve with CST and make a list of the problems you hope to overcome. You will not need to undress for your craniosacral therapy session but it is advisable to wear loose, comfortable clothing.

What to expect
Craniosacral therapy will usually take place in a quiet and relaxed environment. During your first appointment, your craniosacral therapist will take a detailed history of your health and ask about your symptoms, lifestyle and diet. Craniosacral therapy usually takes place with the patient reclining on a treatment couch but if this proves uncomfortable it can take place in a sitting position.

The craniosacral therapist will begin by applying a light touch to key points around the body. This enables them to identify the source of restriction in the system. Once the source has been pinpointed, the therapist uses subtle pressure on the skull, spinal column, sacrum, and coccyx (tail-bone) to restore natural movement of fluid and aid the function of the central nervous system.

The sensations you receive range from tingling to throbbing or a feeling of heat. Many people feel a sense of deep relaxation or even fall asleep. You may be asked to recall a memory or emotion as the therapist supports your limbs or spine and releases accumulated tension. This is referred to as energy cyst release or tissue release. CST practitioners believe that by recalling a trauma or injury and then releasing physical tension the body is assisted in reversing the dysfunction associated with the bad experience.

After your session you may feel invigorated or slightly spaced out. Your therapist will discuss the treatment with you and then make recommendations for any further sessions. Craniosacral therapy will release toxins in the body so it is advisable to drink plenty of water afterwards to flush them out.

The first session with a craniosacral therapy practitioner may take longer than usual as they gather information and an understanding of your problem and explain the process involved with CST. Expect this appointment to last around 90 minutes. A follow-up session can be anywhere up to an hour long.

Costs for treatment vary and you are advised to check these with your local practitioner before making an appointment. Expect to pay between £30 - £65 for your first session and £25 - £50 for subsequent sessions.

Generally, a course of 4 to 6 craniosacral therapy sessions is recommended. These are either at weekly or fortnightly intervals. Some people have disorders that are more complex and require further sessions but this will be discussed during your treatment.

Craniosacral therapy is a safe and non-invasive therapy with proven results and of benefit to most people. There are certain conditions that should not be treated with CST including acute aneurysms, cerebral haemorrhaging or severe bleeding disorders.

Consult with your GP and CST practitioner about any problems or concerns you have as they are trained to recognise what can and cannot be treated with the therapy.

This therapy or modality may help with:

Abdominal Pain Anxiety Arthritis
Asthma Back Pain Blood pressure
Breathing disorders Bronchitis Chronic Fatigue
Chronic Pain Depression Disc Problems
Drug addiction Dyslexia Fractures
Frozen Shoulder Habitual Behaviour Headaches
Hormone Imbalance Immune System Dysfunction Indigestion
Infant colic Insomnia Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Joint Pain Ligament Sprain Lumbago
Menopausal symptoms Migraines Multiple Sclerosis MS
Muscle Cramps Neck pain Neck stiffness
PMS PMT Post operative pain Postural problems
Repetitive strain injury Sciatica Scoliosis
Shoulder pain Sinusitis Spinal Injury
Sports injuries Sprain (Ankle, Knee) Stomach cramps
Stress Stroke Tennis Elbow
Tiredness Whiplash

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Featured Craniosacral Therapy Practitioners

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About Therapist Qualifications

Craniosacral Therapy Association of the UK (CSTA) Craniosacral Therapy Association of the UK (CSTA) More Info Association of Physical & Natural Therapies (APNT) Association of Physical & Natural Therapies (APNT) More Info


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