Craniosacral Therapy (CST) grew out of the early osteopathic work of William Garner Sutherland in the mid-20th century. Popularized by John Upledger, D.O. beginning in the 1980s (I was in John’s first non-physician class after he left Michigan State and studied with him for years), CST is a gentle hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of the craniosacral system (the bones and membranes of the skull and spine.) An imbalance or dysfunction in this system can cause sensory, motor and/or neurological disabilities or chronic pain. CST releases restrictions in this system to improve its function.
- Gentle, highly effective relief from chronic pain
- Healing occurs from deep within
During my graduate school studies I did a six month internship with Spencer Schaeffer, a cranial osteopath in Brookline and, over the years, studied with numerous practitioners and gave countless CST sessions. In 2000 I had the chance to finally learn Dr. Sutherland’s original work – The Biodynamic Perspective. I have gone on and developed my own way of working, which combines the insights I received from my many teachers and incorporates it into Dr. Rolf’s vision of a body moving freely in gravity.
Traditional CST, even though it is quite gentle, is still a technique that is reliant upon the practitioner to direct the treatment. The Biodynamic Perspective allows the practitioner to access much more deeply inside the client’s structure and functioning so that it is the organism itself that creates the strategy for change.
As a human embryo develops, the viscera, our internal organs, unfold and grow. The French physician Jean-Pierre Barral noted very small but discernible movements in his patients that seemed to be related to these patterns of internal embryologic growth. An osteopath, Barral was familiar with Sutherland’s descriptions of tidal motions (see my article on Biodynamics for a short discussion), and realized that these normal, healthy motions in the viscera could become restricted by illness or injuries such as falls and surgery.
Instead of moving freely within the body, the organs would become restricted in one direction or the other. In turn, he found that the resulting movement restrictions could often create problems like constipation, reflux, and chest and pelvic pain.
- Helps with issues like constipation, reflux, chest and pelvic pain
- Long lasting structural change
Visceral Manipulation is a remarkably elegant and effective way to understand and work with such limitations. I learned Visceral Manipulation in 1995 from John Upledger and later studied with Barral’s major teacher in the US, Didier Prat. Over the course of six years, I took many classes with Dr. Prat and wound up assisting him teaching.
Like traditional Craniosacral Therapy, Visceral Manipulation is directed by the practitioner. He/she finds the limitation, decides upon a technique and mobilizes the restriction. As in CST, utilizing everything I have learned, I find that Biodynamic work allows the client’s body to change from within and the change that takes place feels deeper and stays longer.
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Alternative, holistic, complementary health care.