Craniosacral Therapy – What It Is & Why I’m Trying It

Before I get into what craniosacral therapy is, and why I’m trying it, I want to give you a brief update. I’ve found a family therapist, we’ll call her Elle. She isn’t available for a month, so I’m seeing her June 29. This is fine by me, as I really need to think about how I want to proceed, and also let my husband and Mom know I won’t be involved in this situation anymore unless there is a neutral third party. I just can’t be. So they have to be willing to show up and work with me on this, or I’m not going to hear about it from either of them. I’m not their counselor. This is why I went to find another one. She has years of experience working with families, and has evening and weekend appointments. And, most importantly, can remain way more neutral than I think A would be able to (because I think, first and foremost, A would behave like my therapist, and not our therapist). I’ve never been a fan of having multiple therapists at a time, but in this situation, where hopefully my Mom, husband, and I can have a session together, I think its beneficial as long as I keep my lines drawn. I simply do not need my attachment issues with A getting involved in this situation. That’s messy enough.

Alright, craniosacral therapy. I’m really excited to try it but also very aware that it may bring up shit I don’t want to deal with. So that’s a definite consideration about all this here.

What is it? It’s a form of bodywork, or an alternative therapy, that uses gentle touch to manipulate the joints of the sacrum (pelvis bone) and cranium – hence the name cranial-sacral. A practitioner may also apply light touches to a patient’s spine, and pelvis. It came about from an osteopath and largely comes from the practice of cranial osteopathy.

Essentially, its a bit woo-woo when you get into it (even Sal called it woo-woo, so I feel comfortable doing it myself). The idea is that palpating certain areas of the body and maintaining deep connection with the client can help detect the (asserted – no scientific proof as of yet) small, rhythmic movements of the cranial bones in response to cerebrospinal fluid pressure – and that selective pressures may be used to manipulate the cerebrospinal fluid to assist in the release of tension/stress. The goal is to release stress in those areas that alleviates stress and pain – tension that sometimes we have been holding our whole lives.

Biodynamic craniosacral involves less manipulation than the other version of craniosacral therapy – which is good – when it comes to my head/neck/spine/fluids/whatever I don’t want anyone willy nilly twisting things around anywhere.

What I really like about it is that it involves touch, which has recently been a thing in my therapy (and the more I think about it maybe a thing I don’t want in that relationship). It also involves the creation of a contained and held space for stress to be released. Establishing comfort is a crucial tenant of craniosacral therapy, and ensures that what unfolds in a session is about a client and not occurring in reaction to a feeling of lack of safety.

The therapist quietly and gently holds parts of the body, listening for subtle rhythms and tracking changes within the system – listening to the body’s expression of what it needs. People I’ve talked to about their experiences have relaxed so deeply they fall asleep, entered a quiet meditation state, felt as though they are dreaming while awake, experienced memories and insights, felt like they were floating, and I’ve had two or three people say they felt like this massive energy had been released from within them – letting go of old patterns, and it resulted in them feeling incredibly emotional. One broke down crying in every single session after not being able to cry for years. The whole idea is that it’s body-led – shutting down the mind (ha! As if that’s possible), and letting everything release that needs releasing, while (literally) being held.

And while there isn’t much scientific evidence that I can find to pursue this, there isn’t any that says I shouldn’t, either. I think as with anything else it comes down to connection – if working with Sal can allow that hiding, young, inner part of me to express something its holding on to and improve my quality of life – I’m down.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

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11 thoughts on “Craniosacral Therapy – What It Is & Why I’m Trying It

  1. The mind/body therapist I’ve been working with for a year has recently been shifting over to do more craniosacral and less massage in her therapy. Maybe the last three months or so, it’s been a lot of what we do in a session together. I find myself relaxing very deeply in my time with her. My insurance will pay but not until I’ve reached a $5000 deductible, so essentially I’m paying out of pocket and I’ve had to go down to just one session per month (used to be two), but I still go because I think she offers me a kind of body awareness that I don’t get anywhere else. I hope you also have a good experience.

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  2. From what I’ve read, CST is safe as long as you’re not ignoring medically significant symptoms or forgoing conventional treatment to have this instead. It’s hard to swallow the theory behind it, but there does seem to be something very powerful (both positive and negative) in all of the therapies which involve body work or therapeutic touching by someone who is attuned and doing it purely for your benefit, no matter what their theoretical basis.

    I think it’s a hard decision to make whether to take up an offer like A’s to incorporate touch into your regular psychotherapy. There are so many undercurrents and meanings to touching (and not touching) once that element is in the mix and you can see that it might be really helpful for some people and disastrous for others.

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    • That makes so much sense, as long as you’re not replacing conventional therapies with it it’s safe. I think it is the touch part of it that can be powerful – like you said, in both ways.

      Regarding your second paragraph, 100%. I think there has to be a lot of trust and understanding and established communication. And while we have a lot of that, I’m not sure I’m there yet. I’m also not sure I want more touch than the two hugs I get in session. She seems kind of tired lately as well, so I’m wondering if maybe she’s doing her best and it’s not coming across as attuned as normal.

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      • I said about being safe in that way because there are some therapies which can cause harm in themselves e.g. I’ve personally seen someone with a stroke after carotid artery dissection caused by over-vigorous chiropractic manipulation; and there have been a couple of deaths reported in CST clients because of CST practitioners advising them to ignore serious symptoms. Of course I realise that all of these things can and do happen in conventional medicine as well, but so many people have the idea that natural/alternative = harmless. Sorry if I’m ranting, Sal sounds great and I can see you’re taking a very reasonable approach to your own treatment and it’s not aimed at you at all, more that I’m angry at the practitioners (conventional and alternative/adjunctive) who dismiss or minimise or fail to have a decent discussion about the risk of adverse effects from the treatment they’re offering.

        (PS this the the second time recently I’ve had a bit of a rant in your comments. I hope you would say something if this annoys you and you’d rather I kept things lower key)

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      • DV – I know you well enough by now to know I can tell you if it’s frustrating, it isn’t. I actually really welcome your comments and perspective especially on things in the medical field.

        I completely agree with you about alternative practitioners who dismiss or minimise serious concerns – that’s why most of mine are thoroughly vetted and aren’t afraid to call themselves woo-woo sometimes!

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  3. It’s great you wrote about this. Some people need the details before getting it. I for one didn’t like the floaty type feeling at first but then afterwards I felt so much better. It helped me with my dizziness. I have had reiki before and it made me incredibly emotional. I have had a chiropractic adjustment and it gave me flashbacks. I have had acupuncture and got a fever. But after all of these i felt better. It was just the bad kind of leaving or getting the good readjusted or something. I can’t explain it. I hope it goes great for you though.

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    • I’m really glad you commented. I’m curious to see how it goes, and I trust Sal. The massage I got the other day, when I met Sal, seems to have magical components – I just feel better. We will see what happens. I feel stuck, and whenever I feel stuck something new usually helps

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      • I’m very excited for you ! That you already had ugh a good experience is great. Ive met people like that that do just seem magical. Cant explain it but they brought out the bad and let in the good somehow. Body wok is powerful healing

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