Last month I started as a part time tutor for Body Intelligence, London. Although I have done some teaching before, I have never had such a central role on a Craniosacral Therapy training course.
On the first day, I have to admit to feeling a little overwhelmed. Being faced with 25 students, all with very different backgrounds, experience and needs was big! The responsibility seemed even bigger! And yet, I had to remind myself that I was really just a small part of a very strong and experienced organisation and teaching team.
Steve Haines, who was leading the seminar was my main tutor going back 13 years. He has amazing knowledge and is an truly inspirational teacher…. the best in my opinion. Joan Didier who again was a tutor of mine going way back is amazing in a different way. She can assess the room in an instant and see who needs what help. She’s an incredibly grounding influence on me and shows great compassion, even in challenging circumstances. And the other tutors….. all picked for their individual qualities, all with so much enthusiasm and so much to offer the students. I feel honoured to be amongst these people.
And the students! Wow, the students. Most in awe of what they were witnessing and starting to experience. Its exciting stuff! Some realising that putting down their prior knowledge might the most helpful thing they can do. Some realising that therapists need therapy first and foremost! All hopefully gaining insight into their own being and what this work is about.
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!
There is often a perception that a Craniosacral Therapy session should be silent! I suppose it comes from the need to move towards stillness. Dynamic stillness is profound and holds many of the answers that we seek. However, stillness is not the goal for everyone and every session.
People and their needs vary hugely, so there are no shoulds when it comes to noise. One session is often very different to the last and requirements can change within moments. Your experience of Craniosacral Therapy is likely to be very different therefore to your friend’s. That is, just because you spend most of your session time in stillness and silence, doesn’t mean that its right or best for your sister/dad/next-door neighbour.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
Sometimes, the system needs to settle into stillness
Of course, a silent environment is usually ideal here. However, is complete silence realistic or always best? I have worked in many clinics and there is always noise of some kind….. buses pulling away or sirens from outside when I worked in a London clinic, noises from the chiropractor clicking and crunching in the room next door or babies crying when I worked in a multi-disciplinary clinic. It goes with the territory.
I work from home and I live in a village, so generally speaking it is pretty quiet here (people often comment about this). However, although of course every effort is made to create a peaceful and calm environment and various measures are in place to help ensure, I cannot guarantee absolute silence ever. Sometimes the postman rings on the doorbell or there’s a noise from upstairs for example.
People who are really settled and resourced, will not notice or care about the odd noise. Others who are struggling to settle perhaps or whose nervous system is easily startled, may find them acutely annoying or that it takes them a while to really settle again afterwards.
The truth is, with life, there is noise and observing the way we respond (or not) to outside influences tells us a lot about what is going on inside us.
Interestingly, some guided meditation programs will progress from peace onto an environment with intentional ‘interruptions’ placed here and there. They do this to challenge your nervous system and see how it is for you to stay in the ‘rest and digest’ in spite of the noises. It helps train your nervous system out of fight, flight or freeze essentially, so helps that overall ability to be calm.
2. Is it good to sleep during my session then?
It might be just what your system needs. A lot of releasing can occur in sleep. However, it might also be a way of your system dissociating from what is going on. If this is the case, I will work with you feel safe enough to stay present (and awake!). Its all about getting the best from your session.
3. When new people come to see me, they often struggle to find safety (either inside or outside of their bodies)
Until safety is established, the nervous system cannot settle and healing cannot occur. I work with my clients in order for them to find safety wherever they can. Sometimes, taking the client’s attention away from their body feels better (safer) and creates an environment for more progress. In time, we work towards finding safety within their bodies. There are a lot of different techniques used in order to work towards safety. This can take time and will involve lots of verbal intervention. Finding safety in the body is always a big deal! And subsequent discussion about what the client can feel in their body can really help things progress. Stillness is further down the line.
4. I find the silence unsettling
I’m used to silence but it can feel weird or scary to some people, especially when they’re in a new environment. Sometimes safety comes in the form of reassurance and conversation. If you are happier talking, then lets do that and see how we go.I often mention things that I can feel happening in the client’s body if I think they will be interested or if I am helping them to engage more with what is going on inside them.
This can really help the process of connection, presence and embodiment. At times, the client having their attention directly on the process can assist any releasing.
5. Memories (traumatic or otherwise) are coming up for me and I want to tell you
If you want to share what is going on for you, please do. It can often help.
6. I’ve got a lot going on and I need to talk to you
You are very welcome to tell me about what is troubling you if you would like to. It can be helpful to your session. I will intervene if feel that it is detrimental to your session.
7. I know my sessions help my back/neck/shoulder/knee pain whether we stay quiet or not, and I quite like our chats!
The most important thing for me is that you get the most from your session. I have a fair few clients who chat for a lot of their session (often about random things) and their systems adjust and release all the while. That is all good!
8. What about kids?
They are not dissimilar to adults in that they vary a lot! Safety is key here too. Helping your child to feel at home is my main priority. Expecting toddlers to lay still on the treatment table for example is ridiculous, so we use a toy box, books, cuddles with a parent, even a screen can help the settling process.
Hopefully that gives you a little overview as to how people’s needs vary so much and hence why the approach can vary so much. What’s good for one client, could be unhelpful for another. Your needs may change from one moment to the next. Its not about judgement, my job is to assess your needs as an individual as best I can and guide you accordingly.
If you have questions about any of this, please do ask – Sarah 07956 390419.
Hi, I’m Sarah. My first experience of Craniosacral Therapy (CST) was when I took my my newborn baby to get help for her colic and reflux many years ago. It was amazing to watch! I could ‘see’ the tension build up in her body and then disappear, as if like magic and I knew I needed to know more. After doing some research, I decided to change career and I started the three year training at the Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust (CTET) in London.
At the time, I had no idea of the full potential of the therapy. All I really knew was that it helped newborns, but my eyes were soon opened to the profound and powerful effect it often has on people of all ages.
We all hold unresolved survival energy, or trauma in our bodies. This often has a fundamental effect on our ability to function in a balanced, healthy way and can have far reaching consequences on our physical and mental health. CST was originally developed from osteopathy and therapists are trained to create a listening, neutral, supportive, nurturing, resourced space for their client. Then, using a very gentle hands on approach, they work with the inherent treatment plan of their client’s system in order to facilitate the shifting and ultimately the release of the unresolved trauma / tension held in the body. People often say that having Craniosacral Therapy is like being listened to and held like never before.
My three year training was transformative for me, although it wasn’t always easy. To see such a powerful therapy working all around me was enthralling, but I soon discovered that I was uncomfortable accessing my own needs. This was unfamiliar to me, I had spent most of life nursing other people and I was really scared about how ugly / scary / monstrous releasing my ‘unresolved stuff’ would be! I mean seriously, what if I had a nervous breakdown or I couldn’t stop crying for a month!? I had buried all that stuff away for good reason!
Of course, if I wanted to practice CST authentically (which seemed the only way with a therapy built on such deep trust and safety), I had to be prepared to do the work on myself.
What I then discovered through receiving CST myself was that a qualified and experienced practitioner is practiced at helping the client access their resources and will support them through the process of trauma release, whilst ensuring that it takes place at a pace that feels okay for them. Safety, safety, safety. To allow the system to be overwhelmed would be counter productive. When the client feels safe and held by their therapist, they make great progress. That is to say, I discovered that even my stuff wasn’t scary when released little by little, with support.
So, I graduated in 2011 and set up Cranio Kent. I really love every day of my work and I’m proud to say that my practice is now one of the busiest and most well respected in Kent. The core of my practice is my hands on work (clinics are in East Malling village and Kings Hill), but in 2019, I was registered as a supervisor which means that I mentor and support other therapists now also. I have always been a registered member of the Craniosacral Therapy Association (CSTA) and work within their code of ethics and I also spent a number of years working as a tutor at the CTET’s teaching clinic in London.
Whilst of course I work with physical pain a lot and I love working with babies, I find that I am drawn most to work with anxiety.
It is my firm belief that as human beings, we all have the natural capacity to recover from overwhelming experiences. CST encourages the system to do just that. As your therapist, we are not the wounded and the healed, we are equals. I continue on my journey too, I may just be a little further down the road than you are.
If you’d like to understand more or have chat about whether CST is likely to help you, then please give me a call (07956 390419) / or email me email@example.com
This is a short CASE STUDY of a lady who came to see me suffering with M.E. and DEPRESSION (we’ll call her Karen).
Karen came to see me having been suffering with ME for about 12 years. During that time her symptoms had steadily got worse, despite trying lots of different ways to help herself. She had also during this time become very DEPRESSED. She was often bedbound with fatigue and would ‘crash’ frequently after relatively little activity – she described the fatigue as a 7 out of 10 (10 being the worst she could possibly imagine). She said the depression was a 10 out of 10 and she was experiencing back pain which felt like a ‘ripping’ and she scored that as a 6.5 out of 10. Her main goal was “to feel alive / happy / healthy again”, which she said hadn’t for at least 6 years.
Improvements came after just one session and after she’d had five, she said the depression was a 1/10 and the fatigue just 3/10. The pain was improving a lot also.
It was clear to both Karen and myself that further improvement was almost inevitable so she maintained her sessions with me, although they became more spread out. Karen found that having a CST session every 6 weeks needed to be part of her “care plan” and would “keep her on a level”, even to the point where she continues to see further improvements even now.
The last time I saw her, she got tearful telling me how CST had “changed her life” and how she had gone from “being largely bed-bound to LIVING A FULLER AND HAPPIER LIFE’.
...the pain in my neck is a lot better, I haven't had nearly as many waves of anxiety and I feel a lot happier!"
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