What is Craniosacral Therapy?

January 21, 2015

Craniosacral therapy, typically associated Osteopathy, involves gentle hands-on treatment that can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. It works by regulating the flow of cerebrospinal fluid through gently manipulating the joints of the skull and pelvis. This holistic treatment allows the body to shift energetically towards health and balance and can be effective in the treatment of both acute and chronic conditions, especially painful conditions. Craniosacral Therapy treatments gently unwind the restrictions in the body allowing it to return to a state of balance.


Craniosacral treatments are particularly helpful when there has been a recent trauma or there is a long held trauma from the past. Craniosacral can release the body and mind of these restrictions that have held the system in a sub optimal state, sometimes for many years.




Craniosacral therapy has its origins in modern osteopathy. When Dr William Sutherland (1873 - 1954) studied the separate bones of the skull he postulated that those bones had the appearance of structures made for movement. At the time the adult human skull was said to be completely fused.

Sutherland set about designing an experiment to test whether the skull was in motion or if indeed it was a fixed structure. He devised a special helmet with screws to tighten the helmet over specific bones of the skull so as to prevent even the slightest movement. His first experiment was on himself. He and his wife wrote down their observations of his physical and mental symptoms and behaviors.

From this work Sutherland developed what is now known as cranial osteopathy. He was the first person to recognise the movement of the cranial bones and the expansion and contraction that occurs in the cerebrospinal fluid within the skull. 

In the 1970's Dr John Upledger, made his own observations of the nervous system. He expanded Sutherland's theory to include the whole of the spine. He added the sacrum, the brain and spinal cord, and the fluid and membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. And his treatments based on this system became known as craniosacral therapy.


In 1986 Franklyn Sills started teaching biodynamic craniosacral therapy and this approach has continued to grow and develop until this day. Biodynamic craniosacral therapy focuses more on the presence and stillness of the practitioner and the deeper energies within the client known as primary respiration.

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