Craniosacral therapy is truly holistic, recognising that a symptom such as a headache may come from many sources, maybe an old injury that has led to compensation patterns through the body, or habitual stress that causes contraction in the muscles of the neck, affecting blood supply to and from the brain, or countless other possibilities. In addition our sense is that any experience that is too much for the person to process at the time, whether physical or emotional, can become held in the tissues and the emotions, causing obvious or more subtle effects on soft tissues, muscles and bones, nerves and emotional state, and affecting the flow of energy, blood and the cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds and bathes the brain and spinal cord.
Often we experience ourselves as a person with various issues, some recent and some very long-standing which may feel inter-connected, and all linked to a more generalised feeling of some lack in well-being. With its way of perceiving the person as an uninterrupted whole, craniosacral therapy very naturally lends itself to gently supporting these different aspects simultaneously, respecting the complexity of our experience and the body's inherent wisdom to know how to unravel itself.
My particular focus is always on the wholeness of the person in addition to any difficulties that are going on, as my experience is that this place of greater ease is invaluable in healing and gives a kind of reference point for the trauma or pain. It is very clear to me that bodies know better than me or any theoretical model what they need to do! And that my role as practitioner is to listen, trust and follow this process, supporting it to unfold. In this way the body itself guides the direction of the session in whatever way is appropriate to each individual.
In a craniosacral session the client is usually lying down, fully clothed (please wear comfortable clothing if possible), and the practitioner makes gentle contact with the body, 'hearing' the contractions and restrictions with the hands and intuition whilst also feeling the wholeness and potential for health that is available in every situation and allowing the body to rest deeply in peaceful stillness. Through this quiet process the intelligence of the body seems to hear itself more clearly and begin to make changes that are needed.
Although outer symptoms may vary, I find similar processes occurring within sessions. My overall sense of this is typically that is it as though the trauma, injury or condition has 'forgotten' that it is also still part of a whole person. Working from stillness, equanimity and the inherent compassion of this quiet place seems to support the traumatised aspect to find its way back into relationship and integration with the wholeness of the rest of the person. Different people have different experiences of this process, commonly deep relaxation, warmth, tingling, noticing subtle movements in the body, as well as a feeling of having been deeply 'heard' and fully accepted, with a peaceful sense of well-being and sometimes also insights about their situation.
My experience is that this whole-person approach can provide support for all sorts of people and many types of situations and conditions, including our very personal reactions that we all have to any threat to our well-being. I work with people of all ages, from newborn to elderly, and all types of situations or conditions, whether physical, emotional or more subtle aspects of well-being. It is always a privilege to meet each person where they are and to offer this type of support, whether it is for a more short-term or chronic situation. Craniosacral therapy is also truly a journey into oneself, and you don’t need to be ill or have problems to benefit from this – because of the peaceful environment and allowing of the truth of the body it can help us to initiate change on many levels.
Unfortunately, following a campaign against complementary health, I am not permitted by the Advertising Standards Authority to name any conditions or situations, even anecdotally, in which people have found craniosacral therapy to be helpful. For people who would like to read the background, there is a brief description at the bottom of this page. I feel this restriction is a bit unfortunate, as I would like to be able to give clearer guidance and information on this website. However I will be very happy to discuss your situation with you, of course with no obligation at all, based on my experience over the years – see the contact page for details of how to get in touch. Nothing in this website is intended to interrupt or replace the relationship you have with your doctor or to discourage you from seeking medical advice where applicable.
Mothers and babies
Mothers often find craniosacral therapy helpful for themselves and their baby both during pregnancy and after birth, supporting the many changes that are going on physically as well as emotionally. Mothers are often aware that as a pregnant woman and indeed for many months after birth, there is really no clear sense of separation between them and their baby, so anything that the mother finds relaxing and helpful is also experienced as supporting the baby, as well as the relationship between them. Working with the baby after birth can also offer help for any difficulties that have been experienced, after-effects of the birth process and difficulties such as with feeding or sleeping. I am always happy to discuss your specific situation and whether craniosacral therapy may be of help to you or your baby.
In addition receiving craniosacral therapy can be a space to pause and really notice the changes that have taken place and are coming. In our culture, very often mothers (and fathers or partners) are expected to return to 'life as normal' straight after a birth, and there is very little time to even notice that a hugely significant event has taken place. As well as receiving support for any difficulties that have been experienced, perhaps especially if a birth has not gone as was hoped for, a craniosacral session is always a place of honouring where we are right now, and for a new mother that may include being allowed this time to rest deeply and recognise herself and her motherhood. Fathers or partners too have had a very intense emotional experience and may benefit from a little space and time to adjust and tell the story of the birth from their perspective.
A session lasts 60 - 70 minutes and costs between £50 and £55 depending on location.
Advertising Standards and Evidence
As mentioned above, the ASA have said that practitioners are not permitted to name any situation or condition for which people have found craniosacral therapy helpful. They require 'scientific evidence' - such as randomised controlled trials (similar to pharmaceutical drug trials) - as the only acceptable evidence for a therapy being useful. They also state that if we report any positive effects of craniosacral therapy, then clients may come to see us instead of seeing a doctor.
Over time there are efforts to create more of these types of trials - for example a 2015 trial in Germany for chronic neck pain (currently in press, reference will follow) used 'sham' treatment as a control and found a significant and lasting positive effect for craniosacral therapy on pain levels. There is also research underway (due to complete in 2017) to establish a more appropriate type of 'measure' than those currently available for the beneficial effects of complementary health and specifically craniosacral therapy, but to then apply this to the multitude of conditions we see this will take some years yet.
Anyone who has received any form of complementary health will be aware that the trial 'ideal', of separating out a specific single condition and applying a standardised treatment to it, is not really how we work, and not really how people experience themselves. As described above, we usually experience ourselves as a person with various issues on different levels eg emotional, physical and general well-being, recent and chronic. In craniosacral therapy the session does not have a fixed structure aimed at only one definable symptom, but is a completely individual experience, as the practitioner is always responding to what is felt to be happening in that moment on many related levels, rather than following a routine procedure.
This 'narrowing' of the session also leaves out many crucial elements of therapy in the real world, such as the relationship and trust that builds between a client and a practitioner, the safety that comes from this and the therapeutic effect of being really listened to, both on the couch as the practitioner is attentive to what your body is 'saying' and also verbally, as you talk about your situation.
In my experience most people come for craniosacral therapy through recommendation from friends or family, or simply because they find a particular practitioner’s approach makes sense to them.