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Cranial Manipulation and CranioSacral Therapy


Craniosacral therapy is complementary to Chiropractic, Osteopathic and Physical Medicine treatments.

      The craniosacral system is based on the knowledge that:

  1. The bones of the skull are movable, flexible, and adjustable.

  2. The fluctuation of the pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid can be felt and measured.

  3. Restrictions in this natural rhythm can be corrected by gentle manipulation.

  4. Restoring normal craniosacral rhythm enables the body to function optimally.

  5. Restoring optimum body function may alleviate a wide variety of painful and dysfunctional conditions within the body.

      What It Does for You ... The case histories from craniosacral therapy are extensive. The therapy corrects lesions in the craniosacral system and generally improves the body's health and resilience. It was also observed that positive to dramatic benefits were seen in cases of headaches, learning disabilities, dyslexia, scoliosis, infantile disorders, chronic fatigue, motor coordination impairments, emotional difficulties, chronic neck and back pain, TMJ syndrome, stress and tension related problems, and other disorders. Craniosacral therapy, is however, not a specific treatment for a medical condition but a general method for improving the health and resilience of the human body.

      In my own experience, I have observed the shape of some of my patients’ faces change from slightly lopsided to symmetrical. I have also had excellent results with severe headaches that did not respond to conventional chiropractic adjustments. In many cases craniosacral therapy can uncover and correct the underlying causes of subluxations and many related non-specific disorders and complaints.

      Most patients experience a profound sense of relaxation and peace. Most fall asleep or go into an altered space at some point during the session. Some patients may experience a Somatoemotional Release if it is the agreed intent of both the physician and patient.

      A Really Neat Thing ... about craniosacral therapy is that it is a bridge technique. That is, while it is a physical technique, it is also a direct way of releasing the emotional energy and associations with past injuries whether physical or emotional. Physically it is a very gentle technique, generally using no more than five grams (the weight of a nickel) of force.

      According to Dr. Upledger, founder of the craniosacral technique, this technique is performed with 80% intent and 20% direct physical contact. In other words, craniosacral technique embraces the use of the mind as a direct mode of healing. Despite this somewhat esoteric sounding description, all aspects of the diagnosis and treatment procedure can be felt as physical phenomenon. That is, feeling the movement of the cranium and other body parts tells the practitioner what to treat, when the correction was made, and how well.

      A Historical Note - The Upledger Institute trains practitioners from all of the health care disciplines in the art of craniosacral therapy. It is from the Upledger Institute that I obtained my training in this technique. Cranial adjusting was first developed as a formal technique in the early 1900’s by Dr. William Sutherland, D.O. Subsequently, several Chiropractic Physicians, notably Dr. De Jarnette, D.C. (the founder of Sacro-Occipital Technique), Nephri Cotthan, D.C. (the founder of chiropractic craniopathy) and others introduced their own versions of cranial technique, based in part on the work of Dr. Sutherland. More recently, elements of cranial technique have been expanded by the practitioners of applied kinesiology and others. There are also a number of contemporary osteopathic physicians developing and refining cranial techniques.

      Following in the direct footsteps of Dr. Sutherland, Dr. John Upledger, D.O., coined the term craniosacral therapy. He has expanded on Sutherland’s technique, simplifying some of the procedures, updating the scientific model of the phenomenon, and perhaps more significantly, broadened the field of practitioners beyond a small cadre of physicians. The Upledger Institute accepts students from all healing arts making it truly an interdisciplinary art.

Somatoemotional Release

      The term somatoemotional release was coined by Dr. John Upledger, D.O., founder of craniosacral therapy. It denotes the facilitation of a spontaneous release of emotional energy stored in or associated with injuries or dysfunctional bodily systems. The concept is that physical injuries are often associated with emotional trauma, and that complete healing of the injury requires the release of the emotional trauma by the patient. Craniosacral therapy is a gentle process that facilitates this type of release or unwinding the patient without evoking resistance in the patient.

      This phenomenon has been witnessed by many body workers across many disciplines. Chiropractic spinal adjustments will often trigger this type of response. On many occasions, I have witnessed episodes of intense laughter or crying (there was no physical pain involved) when a particular subluxation complex was released. In the older chiropractic theories, there is a concept called "retracing". The belief was that correcting a spinal (or body) misalignment created a condition from which the body returns to the structural state preceeding the corrected imbalance. Repeated treatments facilitate further retracings until one eventually reaches a physiological and structural state which precedes all injuries and imbalances.

      While many body workers and physicians have observed this phenomenon, the craniosacral method actually recognizes, establishes a supporting model, and encourages this form of healing experience. This is not possible in fast moving practices with short visits and limited contact time. The craniosacral sessions are longer (typically 45 to 60 minutes per session) and create the physical, mental, and emotional environment that allows this form of healing to occur. The practitioner is able to work on a physiological level without evoking the somatoemotional release if the patient is not open to this process.

      Somatoemotional release is not counseling. Someone working with a counselor may find the somatoemotional release to be a very powerful tool in facilitating their work with their counselor. Many individuals also benefit from somatoemotional release who do not need counseling services.

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