I received a call from a friend recently who had referred a patient to me for CranioSacral Therapy. The new patient’s spouse came to watch the therapy and afterwards called my friend to complain about how it “looked like I was doing nothing”.
The spouse went on saying, “She asked a few questions, had him lie down on the table and then lightly placed her hands along his spine and head for an hour. I think my husband was sleeping most of the time!”
My friend responded, “So how is his problem now?”
“Well,” she said, “of course we are going back, because the problem is gone and I want to know exactly WHAT SHE DID!”
Often when I teach CranioSacral Therapy I demonstrate the techniques with the warning it may seem like the students are watching paint dry or grass grow. What I feel under my hands as lots of movement may visually look like nothing. Sometimes the patient may not physically feel anything but a sense of relief or calmness during a session. Afterwards they may report alleviation of symptoms or changes of some sort.
CranioSacral Therapy is a mode of evaluation and treatment viewing the patient as a whole and integrated system having innate healing abilities. By focusing on this internal healing ability, let’s call it the patient’s inner wisdom, the therapist then becomes a facilitator in a process solely directed by the patient.
So how does it work?
There is a core rhythm in the body that is created by the system surrounding the brain and spinal cord – the craniosacral system. This rhythm is a result of the movement of cerebral spinal fluid and is translated throughout the entire body. This whole body rhythm shows the therapist where there are restrictions by a lack of or asymmetrical motion in a specific area.
In most cases, by tuning into this craniosacral rhythm, a therapist (or more accurately, the therapeutic facilitator), is better able to evaluate the cause of the problem rather than focusing on the symptoms. I view this rhythm as the “voice” of the patient’s inner wisdom – a type of body intelligence.
It is when “listening” to this “voice” of the body, I can follow the body tissue and access problems as deep as the patient’s body dictates. What is most fascinating about this listening/facilitating technique is it can be effectively executed with five grams of pressure (the weight of a nickel)!
In my practice I have found CranioSacral Therapy to have some profound effects on people of all ages. I have used these techniques on newborns to help with their transitions from an intrauterine environment to the outside world. I have also been honored to be present on the other end-of-life spectrum with patients transitioning through death.
Other patients have come for CranioSacral treatments with migraines, post surgery issues, low back pain, vertigo and dizziness, respiratory issues such as emphysema or COPD, digestive problems, dyslexia, edema, pregnancy issues and many other “dis-eases”. Most experienced relief from their symptoms and regarded the therapy as instrumental in their pursuit of health. Some patients received insights into other areas of their body that needed balancing.
It is my belief, as well as the belief of many other CranioSacral therapists, that the body, or rather the innate wisdom of the body, has the goal of homeostasis. Simply put, it is looking for balance at all times in any given circumstance. My job as a facilitating therapist is to increase the body’s ability to achieve that balance in whatever way it chooses. I “listen”, I “follow” the body tissue, and I “create” an atmosphere or environment where the body has the opportunity to balance (maybe even “heal”) itself.
My general statement to anyone pursuing CranioSacral Therapy with me is this; if they feel absolutely no difference in their bodies, not necessarily a relief of symptoms, within three treatments, then this form of therapy, facilitated by me, may not be what their body needs at this time. Maybe another CranioSacral Therapist or another modality of treatment should be looked into in conjunction with continued CranioSacral Treatment. No one gets out of balance due to one event, be that an accident, exposure to a bacteria or virus, or a trauma. It usually is a combination of several issues coming together at an opportune time causing imbalance. It makes sense then to accept the idea that it may take a combination of therapies to access homeostasis and health.
Dr. John Upledger, a highly regarded authority in the field of CranioSacral Therapy, summarizes this technique as therapy that “…accesses the total human being’s self-corrective and self-healing process. Further, this therapeutic approach attempts to maximize patient responsibility for their overall well being.”
At best, I can tell my patient’s spouse, yes indeed I was “doing” something by simply “being” where her husband’s body “told” me to be. As for his problem being gone, he did that!