Craniosacral Therapy

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What is Craniosacral Therapy?

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Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a very gentle hands-on therapy which assists the body’s capacity for self-repair. This gentle approach does not use manipulation. The therapist listens, via the hands, to what is going on in your body, and identifies and helps to relieve pain or tension held there. You may feel a deep sense of relaxation and become aware of heat, tingling, pulsations or other sensations. Some people find that it can take a few sessions to get used to what they are feeling.

CST is client-led. Your body will set the pace of work, so you will remain comfortable, in control and able to integrate the changes that occur.

Since it is your body rather than your mind that sets the priorities, you may find that the reason you came for treatment is not what changes first. For this reason you may need to consider having a series of treatments to gain the full benefit of CST and its cumulative effects.

CST owes its increasing popularity to the effectiveness of its gentle approach. It has been developed from discoveries about the body’s subtle physiology, made by osteopaths in the USA around 100 years ago. These findings show that all cells in the body express a rhythmic movement which is fundamental to life and which has been called craniosacral motion.

At the core of the body the cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes and cushions the brain and spinal cord, expresses this motion in a tide-like ebb and flow, (like the tides of an ocean), while bones, organs and other structures in the body follow their own particular patterns of movement. This motion is very subtle but a trained therapist is able to perceive this motion.

How Does CST Work?

In response to physical injuries or emotional stress, the body’s tissues contract and sometimes, particularly when the shock is severe or accompanied by strong emotions, the tissue stays contracted. Any trauma, stresses, strains or tensions which remain in the body restrict the body’s functioning and may give rise to problems over the years. The effects may be both physical (such as back pain, migraine or digestive disorders) and emotional (such as anxiety or depression).

Restrictions in the body’s functioning show up in the way that craniosacral motion is expressed. Craniosacral therapists are trained to feel this subtle motion in the body and can use it to find where there is congestion or restriction. Then using the hands to amplify the pattern the body is holding, the therapist provides an opportunity for the body to let go of its restriction and return to an easier way of functioning. This frees the energy which the body was previously using to hold itself in contraction. So one of the benefits of the therapy can be an increase in the level of energy available. The resulting changes can bring greater ease on a mental or emotional level, as well as to the physical body.

CST is suitable for people of all ages, from babies to the elderly. CST is often beneficial for fragile or acutely painful conditions, as well as during pregnancy, after an operation, accident, fall or injury, and for young babies. By helping raise vitality and supporting the body’s own self-healing process, CST may aid people with almost any condition. But you do not have to be ill or have any particular symptoms to benefit from CST. The easing of life’s stresses, and the increased sense of vitality and well-being that CST can bring, is welcome at any time.

CST for Children

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Restrictions arising during birth may result in colic, suckling problems, breathing difficulties, restlessness, and irritability. Babies and small children appreciate the way that CST speaks to them. It is a nonverbal language which they respond to particularly well.

Due to the gentle, yet effective, treatment CST is becoming popular with mothers, for themselves and their babies and their other children. Mothers and fathers often bring along babies for treatment of colic, sleeping trouble and digestive problems.

From the moment of conception, a child’s life is a whirlwind of change and development. These many changes bring along their own challenges and it can be helpful to have a range of supportive “tools” to address the issues.

CST is one such tool and is ideal for babies and children since the touch is extremely gentle and is carried out fully clothed. CST enables them to begin the important process of being aware of, and responsible for, their own physical and emotional health.

It can also enable the child to relax and enjoy, especially if he/she has had a stressful birth. It is not necessary for words to be used to convey how the treatment is being experienced, so it is ideal for babies and children with no, or limited, speech.

CST and Trauma

Trauma is a very wide topic and is unique to every person. Nobody knows which event in our lives will overwhelm our nervous systems into trauma.

Sometimes the person experiencing the trauma does not realise their body is holding trauma. They just experience the symptoms and do not understand what is wrong with them.

It is the role of the body to protect us from dangerous situations (physical and emotional), but most of the time we are not aware of the warnings our bodies are giving us, or we do not trust our own instincts.

CST can assist people to familiarise themselves with the sensations in their body, recognise them and, if there are restrictions, release them in a very gentle way.

What to Expect During a Session

Your practitioner will take a written case history, listening with care to the reasons for your visit. This part of the session is important, both for gathering information and to establish a good understanding with your practitioner.

The session typically lasts an hour, although this can vary. You remain clothed and will usually lie face up or on your side, or you may be seated. The practitioner makes light contact with your head, the base of your spine, and other areas, encouraging your body to relax and begin to make the changes it needs. Because the body functions as a whole, your practitioner may focus on areas other than where your symptoms occur.

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