I am often asked what is Craniosacral Therapy? I have seen more than a few definitions over the years, some brilliant and some well...you know. As a Craniosacral Therapist I feel that I should be able to at least create my own definition/explanation based solely on my own professional and personal experiences. Now I am not claiming in any way that other explanations will be eclipsed or trumped by this one, not at all. This is however my contribution, straight from my heart and head, towards helping people understand this amazing form of therapy. So here goes.
Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, sensitive touch treatment method that relieves tension and disturbances deep within the body, thereby helping resolve illness, pain and dysfunction. Major areas of release are the brain, spinal cord, skull, cerebral spinal fluid and surrounding membranes. This enhances central nervous system function and performance allowing the body to relax and self-correct. CST helps to strengthen the body's natural healing processes and helps correct brain to body connection, immune function and overall health. It is a therapy that has been gradually developed over the past 10 decades, by specialists known as Osteopaths, but is now taught to many types of health care professionals worldwide.
CST skill level and effectiveness can vary greatly between therapists, and is not as easily mastered as many students and therapists would like to believe. Competence depends upon many hours of practice and often hundreds of treatments.The therapist must themselves receive multiple sessions and go through their own healing and release experiences personally to fully grasp what is actually occurring. Given sufficient practice and experience, "listening hands" are developed, meaning, sensitive enough to detect very small amplitude movements and restrictions within the body. Feeling and following the subtle clues revealed by the body is absolutely fundamental. Therapists must develop their touch, pressure and contact with precision in order to detect minute barriers to movement and assist without being disruptive to the body's own guidance and response. The patient's body corrects and heals internally in response to CST. The therapist is merely the assistant. This is a foundational truth at the core of CST learning. CST aids the body and it's intelligence to release, reboot and recalibrate, mounting a healing response and facilitating the return to optimal function throughout the entire body.
Clinically it has been demonstrated, in thousands of patients, to assist with an extremely wide variety of conditions, greatly improving many health concerns, especially those causing pain and movement dysfunction. In addition improvements in energy levels, sleep quality and mental and emotional wellbeing are frequently reported.
It is no suprise that our friend here feels that it is rubber boots weather. Who could blame his sensitivity for wanting extra protection. So too, it is for each of us, when our nervous system is affronted by a heavy downpour of antagonistic elements that threaten injury and trauma upon us. How does the sensitive brain and spinal cord protect us against the onslaught of cantankerous chemicals, injurious impacts, and other unsavoury stimuli that can be collectively labeled trauma. The always aware, hyper-vigilant and reactive nervous system is on the job 24/7 and it does not have a sense of humour when it comes to offensive input that damages or threatens the well being of the body it polices. A 40 trillion cell community is not easy to protect, with many 911 calls coming in to central command hourly. Reports of falls, cuts, toxins, bruises, burns, traffic stress, red alert people in our face, a woman on the subway who reminds us of our Aunt Millie, who used to pinch our cheeks in a most painful and humiliating fashion! Have no fear your friendly neighbourhood Boys in White are on the case (nerve cells are white). The brain is like Dispatch, able to record and organize distress calls and prioritize the severity and therefore the reactive response required. Trauma or harmful input, is remembered and files are kept so that when a repeat offender returns to the scene of the crime, the body mounts a more involved response. A repeatedly traumatized body will often have an over reactive nervous system, and small injuries can begin to remind the guards on duty of much larger previous injuries. Lets stop for a second and clear up an often misunderstood belief; that only big scary stuff like war wounds, violent accidents and near death injuries count in the real world as "trauma". This simply is not the case. The truth is that small injuries can at times mount a full on state of emergency for the body, when the call comes from the big guy upstairs, or the big gal, that "all units be advised, we are under attack". Seemingly insignificant things such as, bruises, bumps, tattoos, allergens, root canals, gentle whiplash, minor surgeries, even emotional events, can all be triggers that mount an over zealous reaction from the body. If it is offensive, then it is trauma. If it is a repeated annoyance or if it reminds the body of past pain, or say, unconscionable bullies that beat us and stole our lunch money, then it could set off a fire alarm reaction!
Often when an injury or body ailment does not mend after much time has passed, it is likely due to a red alert status that a hyper-vigilant and possibly confused Central Nervous System has imposed, and then long after the smoke has cleared, does not lift. With this elevated status comes chronic inflammatory response, chronic swelling or edema, muscle tension or guarding, lymphatic stasis which means that repairs and new cell deliveries are not happening, and finally the great uprising and "coup d'etat", excessive sympathetic nervous system activity.... fight or flight! These responses are not the conditions in which healing can occur and often create a pinnacle reaction, and here comes the kicker, the delicate "saran wrap like" dural skin over the Brain-Spinal chord will actually tighten reactively, cinching up like an offended earthworm, as a means of protecting , albeit an over reaction! This deep tension directly against sensitive neurons can cause tremendous pain and conductivity issues. Now this is where things can really go south, because brain-body communication becomes compromised and who is at the wheel, steering the healing process now?
What can be done? Gently introduce support and mobilization to the brain and spinal cord as well as the vital nerve networks involved, and down regulate the panic and carnage. The down regulation of trauma can be complex and may involve a multi-fauceted approach where psychological support may at times be beneficial. When receiving physical body treatment more often than not a gentle and very indirect body governed tissue release approach is needed. Heavier, less sensitive contact will often threaten the body and retraumatize the situation. Craniosacral Therapy is a most effective form of support in trauma release and hyper-sensitive tissue guarding. This gentle form of care, mobilizes the sensitive covering over the brain and spinal cord, supports body sanctioned gentle tissue release, opens the flow of cerebral spinal fluid, and supports the autonomic nervous system as well as vital nerve networks, thus re-establishing nerve freedom, conductivity and healthy parasympathetic(relaxed) nervous system status. Now with the brain back at the helm, the emergency is called off, the body softens, the rescue workers can go home and healing resumes.