1) What conditions does Craniosacral Therapy (CST) help with?
The effects of CST are far reaching, so it would be impossible to draw up an exhaustive list of symptoms than can be helped by CST. However, to summarise, I specialise in the following three areas:
Stress and Anxiety. Craniosacral Therapy is unique in its ability to treat the source of symptoms on every level, mental, physical or emotional. Letting go of tension and fear held in the body enables it to settle into calmness.
Pain Management. People may come for Craniosacral Therapy because they have acute physical symptoms like headaches or back pain, or long standing issues with pain.
Babies & Children. Craniosacral Therapy can offer support for colic, reflux, sleeplessness, irritability in babies and many common behavioural, social and learning difficulties in children respond well
2) There’s nothing actually ‘wrong’, can I still come along for a session?
There doesn’t need to be anything ‘wrong’ as such for you to benefit from a session. Many people use it simply to maintain their sense of well being and calm. I actually still have regular sessions myself for this reason.
3) So how does CST actually WORK?
It took me 3 years to train in CST. It works on many different levels and different approaches are used depending on the needs of the individual. To summarise:
“Craniosacral Therapy is a subtle yet profound and powerful hands-on technique, developed from osteopathy, which identifies pain and tensions held in the body. It supports the body’s natural tendency to find health and optimum balance by relieving the body of these restrictions and allowing it to realign. Craniosacral Therapy can often effect structural change, but also has much wider implications, both physically and psychologically. Craniosacral Therapists are trained to feel motions in the body which are more subtle than the heart beat and lung breathing that we are all familiar with.”
The best way of understanding the treatment is to experience it yourself. You don’t have to believe its going to work for it to work and you certainly don’t have to understand how it works for it to work. But it does take at least a little bit of hope on the part of the client (I always have hope).
4) I’ve had this insomnia / back pain / depression for 20 years. Can you resolve it in one session?
I have actually had people ask me this. One lady even said that even though there wasn’t a doctor in the land who could help her, she still expected me to resolve her long standing symptoms in one session!
It’s only right that I manage people’s expectations the best that I can. Generally speaking, fresh / recent trauma / restriction in the body tends to resolve very quickly (new born babies suffering with birth trauma are a good example of this). When symptoms have been there for decades (or the tension has been gradually building over this time), it’s likely that it will take longer to resolve. I usually recommend a short course of treatments (maybe 5 or 6) and then a review to see how much progress has been made.
It is true to say also that there might be other issues that your system needs to resolve before the specific issue that you want me to address is able to come to the fore (that is, your body has its own sense of priority and since I am working with your body’s own innate ability to heal itself, the ‘inherent treatment plan’ of your body will dictate the order of things).
Amazing things happen in my clinic but I am not a magician!
5) So……what are you actually DOING?
This is a question I often get asked either when someone is watching someone else have a treatment or when they are having a treatment themselves but have not been able to ‘feel’ much changing.
In Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (CST), there will be no physical manipulation ever. I am working at a much deeper, more fundamental level. For various reasons, some people are able to notice a lot of the changes that are happening in their body during a session and some will notice fewer or maybe even none (this does not mean that nothing is happening!).
Somebody watching a session may observe jerky movements, changes in the clients breathing, movement and so on but obviously they will not see all of the changes that are happening inside the body (again this does mean that nothing is happening!).
If you want someone to ‘click’, ‘crunch’ or otherwise manipulate your body you need to seek a different kind of therapy!
6) Are you being honest with me (Will you tell me that I need more sessions than I actually do for example)?
One of the reasons that my practice is a successful one is because I get good results. Another is that I take pride in running it with honesty and integrity. I have a firm belief that a therapeutic relationship built on mutual trust and respect gives you the best chance of getting the results that you want.
This said, I cannot fix everything for everyone! I also cannot guarantee in advance how your system will respond to treatment. However, I am a highly experienced practitioner and my advice to you will be based upon the successes that I have seen in the past. I know what tends to work best and I will be honest with you about how I think we can achieve the best results possible. We will discuss this in order to ensure that your treatment plan is a good fit for you.
7) Can something so gentle make me better?
YES! I am working with your body’s innate ability to heal itself. I will be listening with my hands to what your body needs and facilitating the process of release and restoration. When we are working at the level of the mid-tide, changes are gentle but profound.
8) Can CST work even when many other avenues can be exhausted and the doctor says nothing can be done or that my condition will only get worse as the years progress?
That is very possible yes, I have seen it many many times!
9) How long have you been practising for / how well qualified are you?
I graduated from the Craniosacral Therapy Education Trust (CTET) in 2011 after a three year training. For over two years, I have worked as a tutor in CTET’s teaching clinic, supporting final year students. My practice is very busy. I will soon be qualified to work as a supervisor (mentor) to other CSTs.
10) I’m sure I must be the worst case you’ve ever seen?
People say this a lot. There can be a lot of shame and embarrassment over our condition. Rest assured that I have worked with a lot of trauma (military, road traffic accidents, abuse, violence, the list goes on). I am not here to judge you or your situation. I am here to create a safe, listening, neutral and supported space for your system to express what is going on and then I will facilitate the processes that need to take place in order for you to recover, at a pace that feels okay for you. You are getting help and that is what’s important.
11) Your life must be really perfect! / You must be really sorted!?
Often people see their practitioner as being someone who is ‘shiny’; someone who sets a good example and they assume that the practitioner must have a pretty perfect life. Typical things that people often assume about me are that: I am vegetarian (probably vegan), that I meditate daily, that I have a VERY happy marriage, that I never shout, that my children are completely zen, that I am super healthy and fit, that I never take prescription drugs and that I probably don’t drink. It is true to say that my focus is very much on my own health first (otherwise how can I help anyone else), but I am far from perfect.
Honestly, I am on a journey just like you are. I have suffered a fair few traumas in my life, more than I care to recall. I have a belief that often therapists are people who have ‘been through the mill’ themselves. Hence why you tend not to get therapists in their 20s. I have worked very very hard on myself over the years (receiving CST has been a big part of that but not all by any means) and I will continue to do that always. Not because I aspire to be shiny, but because I know I still have a lot of growing to do and growth brings me better health, a better understanding of myself and others and the result of that is that I feel happier, make wiser decisions and I enjoy life more – yay!
Craniosacral Therapy is often the therapy of choice for a newborn because it is so gentle and in my experience, so effective. Babies often experience stress and trauma during the birth process, and may not be able to resolve this trauma without assistance.
Common symptoms that parents report their baby having when there first come to see me are:
- Colic (regular inconsolable crying)
- Reflux (pain after feeds, sometimes there are regular spit-ups and vomiting, sometimes not)
- Allergies / intolerances
- Irritability / baby seems angry or tense
- Difficulty settling / getting to sleep / staying asleep (wakes in pain)
- Baby prefers to feed on one side / prefers head laid to one side when laid on back (causing flat spot)
- Difficulty latching / gulping / baby slurps or ‘clicks’ when feeding
In extreme cases, parents report that the baby cannot be put down, in other words, cries unless they are being held (and often even then). Parents of babies with symptoms such as those listed often worry that there is something seriously wrong with their child. They understandably keep looking for reasons and keep talking to health visitors and doctors, trying one thing after another in an often desperate attempt to resolve the situation, such changing bottles, changing formula, and often using medication.
The babies that I see often have been through all of this and still nothing has helped. I have known babies to have their formula type changed 6 or 7 times! Parents are often told by doctors that despite the struggles and distress still going on, nothing further can be done. Although some health professionals are aware of cranial treatment and how it can help babies, many are not, which is a real shame. Because, as I have already said, even when every other option has been exhausted, I usually find that a short course of cranial treatment improves or eradicates most of the symptoms above. Improvements can often be seen after just one session! So if you know any young babies struggling, please do share this blog with Mummy/Daddy!
To have a baby who struggles to feed, cries inconsolably for hours on end or cannot be put down is very distressing and worrying for everyone around, especially Mum and Dad. And all this when perhaps mum is still trying to recover from the birth herself (I will write another blog about helping mums), the parents are just starting to learn how to look after a newborn baby, they are usually very sleep deprived and perhaps there is post natal depression in the mix too. Often the families that I see are really feeling the strain.
When a baby first comes to see me, I carry out an assessment to see if there are any tensions / restrictions held in their body (these will often be a result of birth trauma). If there is (and there nearly always is, in the babies that I see), then very carefully and gently, I help that tension to release from the system at a pace that feel okay for the baby.
Most babies appear to really enjoy their sessions, and they will be far more relaxed at the end of the session than they were at the beginning. Parents often comment at the apparent connection between the therapist and the baby. I often have a little ‘conversation’ with the baby about what is going on during their session. If they show distress at any point, lots of support is provided from Mum/Dad and they can even be treated whilst sucking a dummy, or feeding if that helps them to be calm and allow the process of release. The baby’s progress is monitored throughout the course of sessions.
My work with babies is so rewarding; I just love it. Perhaps because one of my daughters suffered in a similar way when she was a baby, which is how I found out about this therapy all those years ago!
So, there you go, a little overview of why and when to seek help for a newborn. Oh, and another question that I get asked a lot is, whether it is ever too late for birth trauma to be released. The answer is definitely not! So if you have a child, of whatever age and you suspect that the symptoms that they have could be a result of birth trauma, please do give me a call and I can advise you as to whether I might be able to help you (Sarah – 07956 390419).
Children off to school
Does your child suffer with anxiety? It is very common and can show itself in many ways such as worrying, difficulty sleeping, digestive issues, being moody and snappy, withdrawal, depression, obsessive behaviour, panic attacks and so on.
This time of year can be especially challenging, with the new academic year, which brings lots of change and new experiences for school aged children. But what can you do to help your child? Some children are more prone to suffer with anxiety than others, but part of our job as parents and carers is to act, when they show that they are struggling and not just ignore it and hope that it’ll go away by itself!
I see a lot of children in my practice who are suffering with anxiety, and Craniosacral Therapy is usually fundamental to changing things for them.
Our nervous system should spend most of its time in the ‘rest and digest’ mode and rarely need to be in ‘fight, flight or freeze’. However, after experiencing stress, our bodies can get stuck in the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode and finding the ‘off switch’ can become almost impossible. This results in a variety of symptoms: anxiety, stress, being hypervigilant, being aggressive, very tired, depressed, and so on. And yes, this can be the case in very young children too, even babies. The priority here is for the therapist to show the child’s nervous system how to down-regulate from the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode to ‘rest and digest’ and this is what I do. This practice alone usually has a profound impact on the child’s anxiety or stress levels.
The next stage of their treatment is for me to identify any specific tensions or restrictions that are being held in the child’s physiology, and then help those tensions to release in a very gentle way, and at a pace that is right for the child.
It is worth saying at this point that nearly all the children that I see, REALLY enjoy their treatments and will ask to come back, even once they are all better! It is not unusual for them to be asleep by the end! Making your child feel safe, and secure in the knowledge that I am there to help and support them is a top priority for me. And if you don’t feel that your child could lay down during the treatment or keep still, don’t worry, we can work around this and treatments can still be really effective.
So there is a brief explanation of why Craniosacral Therapy and how it works. Now onto the ‘toolbox’ part…..
When parents bring their children to see me, they often ask me is there’s anything they can be doing at home, with their child, to support them whilst they receive treatments and I tell them about the toolbox, which I believe everyone needs. A toolbox of resources, or in other words, things or skills that we know help to keep us well and happy, help us to cope and keep us strong. Things we should use on an ongoing basis, but could turn to particularly when the going gets tough.
So, I’ve put together some suggestions of some things to go in the toolbox. These are things which either I have used myself with my own children, or that have been recommended to me by other health professionals or other parents. If you have any of your own ideas, please let me know because I am always keen to extend the list!
- The Wishing Star by Relax Kids. Relax Kids do various books along similar lines for children. This one is full of creative visualisations, meditations and relaxations. Children can imagine they are lying in soft grass, sitting in a peaceful cave, watching a beautiful sunset and flying like a bird. From 5 years old.
- What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide To Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner and Bonnie Matthews. A favourite of mine – this book is aimed at primary aged children, and talks about how ‘feeding worries’ helps them to grow and introduces the idea of a ‘worry box’.
- Sitting Still Like A Frog: Mindfulness Exercises For Kids (And Their Parents) by Eline Snel. A book and CD, which teaches us how to be in the moment, rather than the past or the future, a key skill in mental health.
- Affirmation Cards For Kids by Catherine Keller. Often children find it hard to say good things about themselves, but with daily practice, it becomes easier and easier and soon it is a new way of thinking!
- The Law Of Attraction For Kids by Jennifer Quaggin. Similar to the above, but aimed at slightly older children.
Mindfulness / relaxation / sleep apps
- There is vast array of these apps available. A lot are free. My advice would be to do a search and try several until you find one that your child likes. Some people prefer talking, some music, some white noise. They can be used for mindfulness practice and / or at bedtimes to help quieten the mind.
- Abdominal breathing is the most efficient and relaxed way of getting enough air into out lungs. However, we sometimes get into the habit of chest breathing which increases our stress levels. There is good advice online on abdominal breathing and how to train yourself (or your child) to do it habitually, eg. http://www.guysandstthomas.nhs.uk/resources/patient-information/therapies/abdominal-breathing.pdf.
Help from the school / GP
- Do the school know about the situation?
- Have you told your child’s GP?
Schools are often able to offer additional support where appropriate. Both schools and GPs are able to refer your child to a mental health specialist for assessment.
Life can be stressful. We all need healthy coping strategies / support in place. Many children are under a lot of pressure from school and so on. Start filling up your child’s toolbox. By taking action, you are showing your child that it is good to be open about their feelings and to tell you when they need help or are worried; that they are not alone and that things can and will get better.
And please note also, that often when we take a look at our children’s stress levels, we realise that our own stress levels need addressing also. It’s really hard for children to be calm when their parents are not, so its important to address your own stress levels too. How about filling your own toolbox?
Please do feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss anything in this blog or if you have concerns about the impact that stress or anxiety is having in your child’s life or your own. I’ll be happy to have a chat with you.
Special thanks go to Julie Clark of Julie Clark Nutrition for suggesting that I write this blog in the first place!
Craniosacral Therapy may be a treatment that you have never heard of before and different to anything else you have ever tried before. Robyn Scherr, Craniosacral Therapist wrote a brief summary of what it is and how it helps, and I have listed the main points that she makes below and added some points of my own.
Craniosacral Therapy is an educated, specific, non-invasive touch that supports your body’s innate ability to heal. This gentle healing technique can address a variety of health concerns. Here’s why Craniosacral Therapy may be the answer you seek for your health issue:
1. You Can Discover the Healing Power of Your Inner Wisdom: Craniosacral Therapy is a simple, direct way of accessing your own inner wisdom and innate healing mechanism. The clients’ inner wisdom leads and directs the session, which is the central premise of this modality. The therapist will “listen” to the client’s system with their hands, assess the priorities and respond accordingly.
2. It Uses a Combined Mind, Body and Spirit Approach: It works on the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of oneself. Each session is unique, which means any one of these aspects, or combination of these aspects, can appear in a session. For example, sometimes we have a sense with a headache that it’s in response to an emotional trigger, but can’t quite identify it. With Craniosacral Therapy, clients are provided the opportunity to feel how and where the tissue is holding tension as the emotional trigger shows up. This can be very enlightening and with subsequent sessions, clients tend to become more self aware.
3. Receive It At Any Age: Because Craniosacral Therapy is so gentle, it can be received from the time of conception onwards. I see a lot of children for example, with a range of issues, such as anxiety, sleep disorders, digestive concerns and so on. But it is never too late! Craniosacral Therapy can used in the elderly also and even to support someone during the process of dying. That listening, non invasive touch can be helpful to anyone, even if you don’t have a specific “problem”! Some clients continue to have top up sessions with me, even though their issues have resolved, simply because they feel it helps to keep them “on a level”, such is the support that it provides.
4. Complementary to traditional medicine: Craniosacral Therapy should be used in conjunction with traditional medicine, rather than as alternative to it. I am a great supporter of traditional medicine, my father is a medical professor in fact, but we all know that, unfortunately, traditional medicine does not solve everything and in my experience, Craniosacral Therapy can often provide relief, even when traditional routes have not or when traditional medicine is treating the symptoms rather than the underlying cause.
5. It’s Flexible: Clients can work as intensively as they like. Treatments can be received every few days, or once every month or two.
Overall CranioSacral Therapy is a highly effective light-touch therapy that works with the source of pain and dysfunction and the whole body simultaneously. Now that you have more information about this noninvasive healing technique, you can decide if you would like to give it a try; I encourage you to!
Even after a seemingly “normal” birth, a baby may suffer with colic, irritability, latching issues, difficulty settling and so on. In my experience, Craniosacral Therapy is often a very gentle, but successful way of treating these symptoms. Babies can be cuddled by mum or even fed during a treatment. And it is never too late to bring your little one along. Older children can benefit too. Many common behavioural, social problems and learning difficulties respond well to treatment.
10 Signs That Your Baby needs Craniosacral Therapy