Craniosacral therapy was developed from cranial osteopathy. The term craniosacral was coined by Dr John E Upledger in the 1970’s. Cranio refers to the head or cranium, and sacral refers to the tailbone or base of the spine. Craniosacral therapists, like cranial osteopaths, believe that the bones that make up the skull do not fuse together to protect the brain. The brain and the spinal cord are bathed in the cerebrospinal fluid which goes upwards and downwards. Practitioners focus on the membranes encasing the brain and spinal cord, in contrast to cranial osteopaths, who focus on the bones of the cranium; they believe that it is the membranes that generate the cranial rhythm and that this rhythm affects every cell in the body.
Treatment involves cradling the head or sacrum. Craniosacral therapists have a refined sense of touch, they are said to be able to listen or tune in with their hands resting lightly mainly on the head or other parts of the body. As the therapist listens to the body he/she can detect signals of distress sent by the body. Corrective pressure is applied to the cranium and spine to normalise the cranial rhythm, although it seems that nothing is happening, the patient can feel sensations of warmth, pulsations and release of tension. Because it is so gentle craniosacral therapy is said to be suitable for children.
Contrary to cranial osteopathy, sacrocranial osteopathy is not included in the general osteopathic curriculum. Practitioners are generally body workers who wish to broaden their skills.
– Chaitow, Leon Review of aspects of cranio-sacral theory. British Osteopathic Journal 1997. XX. 14-22
– Attlee T. Cranio-sacral therapy and the treatment of common childhood conditions. Health Visit 1994 Jul;67(7):232-234. Common childhood conditions such as colic, poor sleep, recurrent ear infection, glue ear, regurgitation, poor feeding and inconsolable screaming may be treated successfully through the gentle, noninvasive methods of cranio-sacral therapy
Conditions that may respond to this treatment
Back and neck pain
Spinal cord injury
Temporomandibular joint syndrome
If undertaking any therapy, always check its suitability for a specific condition.