Below are some frequently asked questions. Click into one of the below topics to learn more.
What is Biodynamic Craniosacral and how does it differ from other types of craniosacral therapy?
Craniosacral Therapy or CST is a non-invasive, hands on therapy that encourages the body’s natural healing capabilities. It has been shown to effectively treat a broad spectrum of physiological issues associated with pain and the loss of systemic, bio-mechanical, and emotional well-being/function. In essence, The Craniosacral Therapist supports the body in releasing restrictions that it has been unable to address on its own. This differs than most other therapies in that the practitioner does not decide where to work, rather the therapist listens to the body’s responses allowing it to tell her how to proceed. If we allow a body to let go when it is ready to, it is likely the adjustments will hold longer because the body has made the decision to let go.
Craniosacral Therapists train for many years to be able to detect and track subtle motions within the body. Within these motions, we can detect restrictions throughout the body in bone, fluid, and tissues, as well as The Central Nervous System (CNS) And we can support the system in releasing those restrictions.
The Central Nervous System (Brain & Spinal Cord) governs the function of all body systems including the Digestive, Endocrine (Hormones), Reproductive, Respiratory, Circulatory, Skeletal, Integumentary (skin), Muscular, Organs, Lymphatic and Immune System, etc. So it makes sense then, that when we release the restrictions within these systems the whole body can then function more optimally and the CNS is more available to do its job without interference.
This type of listening encourages the body to unwind intelligently on its own. CST theory and practice is based on understanding the continuous subtle movements of the cranial bones, the movement of Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) throughout the brain and spinal cord, and also the expansion and contraction in the tissues of the body. By using the hands as fine discriminating tools, Craniosacral therapists are able to detect disturbances such as cranial bone restriction, membrane patterns of lesion & densification and other soft tissue restrictions in the body.
Craniosacral has its origins in Osteopathic Medicine, and as with any modality, there are different branches of the work. Cathy is trained in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, and follows the work of Franklyn Sills which is a less mechanical model that focuses on listening to the health that is always present in the system rather than focusing on symptoms. Trusting that when we track the health the body will ease back into it’s natural rhythm.
Who can benefit from Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST)?
Because of the gentle non-invasive nature of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST), there are few contraindications for treatment. Everyone can benefit, enjoyed by newborns, elderly, the frail or ill. The improvement after a session may be subtle or dramatic. BCST encourages health in the brain and nervous system, which has been known to be effective in assisting the prevention of chronic conditions.
In Addition, BCST can be useful in addressing injuries, including those to the bones and soft tissues. BCST is also an effective modality for exploring and resolving issues of the past including prenatal and birth trauma. Early trauma can create an unconscious belief system that is not necessarily true or relevant for the adult. BCST allows the acknowledgement of old or inaccurate beliefs, which allows for a shift to more appropriate belief systems. Early trauma can also shape how we respond to stress later in life. We did not have the capacity to respond to stressful or dangerous situations as infants when our brains were being hard wired to handle stress. We either learned to tense up, scream and get loud, shut down because our needs weren’t met, or many other variations. However, as an adult most of those responses will not get us through a stressful situation in an appropriate way. BCST can really be helpful in releasing old layers of trauma that can be cycling through the body as we gently listen, acknowledge without judgement, and create a safe space for healing to happen. Once we can release the charge that comes with trauma we can then begin to re-pattern and create new and more effective stress response patterns. The BCST practitioner is a facilitator for resolution. Our innate inner health is capable of re-patterning toward health in an order of priorities initiated by the body, a titrated shift to prevent overwhelm. It is not necessary to be cathartic, or remember, re-experience or relive trauma in order for resolution.
How many of us have experienced a head or tailbone injury, accidents, minor or major surgeries, and dental work?
Life experiences can create emotional trauma, physical strains and anesthesia residues. The biodynamic approach strengthens the whole system, creating a safe environment for the body to gain new perspectives, and a healthy resolution of issues.
Is Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy safe for children?
Yes! Children respond well to BCST because it is gentle, non-invasive, and effective in ways they can intuitively recognize. Even small children quickly get used to the work as they develop trust in their practitioner. Pre-verbal children may actually direct the practitioner’s hands to areas of discomfort.
Children easily show the dynamics of their experience through play, movement and sounds. Much subtle work can be done by the practitioner during “playtime” in which the child is observed and assisted in completing unresolved challenges. Parents are often astounded at the way a crabby, hyperactive, or miserable child will fall into deep relaxation or sleep during treatment, or go in and out of little “mellow moments”, as the practitioner makes even brief contacts on the spine, head, and sacrum. A little goes a long way with a child. Whatever can be resolved during infancy or childhood, often in only a few sessions, can potentially prevent decades of medical and psychological treatment later on. In addition, resolution of misaligned forces makes us less accident-prone, because we are not “off-balance”.
Is Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy safe during pregnancy?
BCST is not only safe but recommended during pregnancy, as it calms the nervous system of both mother and child. It strengthens emotional bonding which has the potential of being short-circuited due to prenatal and birth stresses and trauma. And can really help to alleviate pelvic discomfort during pregnancy.
Are there manipulations involved?
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is distinguished by its minimal reliance on manipulations of any kind. If the various Craniosacral methods could be characterized and compared based on this criterion, the Biodynamic style would be placed at the non-manipulative or yin end of the spectrum.
In the Biodynamic approach, the healing process comes from within the client, not from the outside by the practitioner, and the hand contacts are based on listening and following/reflecting the client’s process rather than pushing or manipulating the client towards a theoretical ideal state.
How can I benefit from Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy?
The therapy may surprise you with benefits you hadn’t known were possible, including resolution of symptoms that you had no idea were related to the cranial system or to each other. You may feel lighter, with a sense of more spaciousness within yourself. You may notice more ease in relationships or ability to focus. You may find that you are just generally more organized, and at ease.
You may stand straighter or breathe more easily and deeply. Pains may decrease and emotional boundaries may be easier to maintain. It is likely that you will feel deeply relaxed and centered. Because each person is unique, it is impossible for us to say exactly what benefit you will feel, or how long it will take you to feel it, but the above comments are quite common.
How does Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy work?
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy begins after a level of safety is created for the client. This is achieved in the communication between client and practitioner who together negotiate the space and contact between them to co create the perfect space for healing to occur. Once contact is established, (usually only about 5 grams of pressure) the practitioner listens deeply to the fluctuations of the cerebrospinal fluid within the craniosacral system.
The fluctuation of the cerebrospinal fluid creates a variety of tides within the system that the practitioner tracks — from a place of stillness —throughout the session. She listens to these tides, always noticing how they move. Are they able to move in a direct line from top to bottom, or does the fluid have to meander around tissues to find a more indirect path? The practitioner also considers how the bones are moving. Is there symmetry? Does one side initiate movement before the other? Does the system move with ease and symmetry, or does it feel locked up and like it’s doing the best it can given the situation? As the practitioner holds these discoveries in her awareness, she is also simultaneously always tracking the health in the system. At some point it is as though the body also begins to notice what the practitioner feels, and the client’s system begins to access its own inner resources, little like finding keys to previously locked doors. The cerebrospinal fluid carries an intelligence and potency (life force), and the body remembers and begins to naturally gravitate back to its health. A Biodynamic Craniosacral therapist learns to listen deeply to the system, tapping into its inherent intelligence, while focusing on the system remembering its original blueprint of health.
The therapist encourages the client’s system to access its resources, offering new choices and possibilities for the system at every level. Training, then, includes deep perceptual and centering skills as well as extensive study of the anatomy, physiology, and inherent motion of the craniosacral system.
What kind of symptoms respond best to Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy?
BCST can be helpful in addressing: Impingement of cranial nerves or spinal nerves, left-right imbalances, Whiplash, Concussions and other head injuries, confusion, headaches, migraines, compression or pressure in bones, tissues and fluids, anxiety, depression, insomnia, circulatory disorders, Fibromyalgia, organ dysfunctions, Torticollis, Colic, Acid Reflux, sensory processing issues as well as ADHD, learning difficulties, emotional difficulties, neuro-endocrine problems, TMJ and dental problems, and trauma of all kinds — birth, falls, accidents and other injuries, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, loss/grief, surgery, anesthesia, P.T.S.D., post dental work, among others.
BCST is also excellent as a preventive therapy because it can facilitate the resolution of imbalances within a patient/client’s system that can later lead to illness or injury.
How many sessions will I need?
This depends on what your goals are, what symptoms you suffer from, and how readily your system responds to this therapy. As a general rule, three to ten sessions will have a significant impact on most people’s health, and in some cases only one session can make a dramatic difference. Often, clients receive regular sessions for longer periods of time, followed by an occasional tune-up to maintain health.
Why do I seem to “fall asleep” during my sessions?
It is common for people to doze off or appear to sleep during portions of a Biodynamic Craniosacral session. There are times when the client slips into a deep, meditative type state of consciousness. In this deep place, the mind relaxes and allows for the possibility of illness or injury to reorganize and remember its innate health. If the system is overworking because it is tired or exhausted, Biodynamic Craniosacral allows the system to relax and rest usually in a deep healing stillness.
Sometimes when people fall asleep in session it can be due to dissociation. Dissociation is a very intelligent tactic that occurs when an event is too overwhelming or traumatic. Sometime in session, particularly with PTSD clients this will come up. That is ok. We can work with that!
What should I do to prepare for our session?
Please wear loose comfortable clothing, and as little jewelry as possible to allow for more freedom of movement and greater comfort during the session. It is a good idea to use the restroom just prior to the appointment so you can relax fully once in session. Please avoid the use of caffeine, drugs or alcohol 24 hours prior to and during your session. It is also a good idea to give yourself a space of time after to process your session. Craniosacral is non-invasive but the work can be on a very deep level, your body can be “reorganizing” for up to 72 hours after a session!
What if my baby is sleeping or needs to nurse during our Craniosacral therapy session?
Cathy will do her best to accommodate Mommy and infant during a session. She has no qualms about treating while Mommy is nursing, in fact that is often very helpful, and can actually be beneficial for baby! Particularly if there are any bonding or attachment issues. However, initially when Cathy works with infants it is important to have eye contact, and establish rapport and trust with baby prior to putting her hands on. If trust is not established with babies therapy can be very re-traumatizing for them, particularly if they had a traumatic birth, or time in utero. Once that is established and baby has shown he/she trusts Cathy, then she will work around sleeping baby’s needs in the session. Cathy can work with your baby in her lap, in your lap, while nursing, while sleeping, or awake etc. Wherever you and your baby are in the rhythm of your day is fine!
How does a Craniosacral therapy session begin?
At the beginning of every session Cathy will allow the space for conversation and for her client to share any health goals, history, questions, and for us to get acquainted. This is a time for you to share anything that may be going on in your life and your body. When the client is ready she/he can lie down on a massage therapy table and get comfy. As Cathy is grounding and settling her own nervous system, she will do a nonverbal, non-contact check-in with you and your body. This allows her to get a sense of what is happening in your system and what your body may need in that moment. Cathy may ask you to check in with your body, to see what you are noticing, or what you are aware of. She will help bring your awareness back into your body. The combination of what she feels from your body and what she hears from you, will guide us in our work together ensuring that you feel supported as possible during the entire session.
How should I take care of myself after a session?
Although Biodynamic Craniosacral can feel somewhat subtle, it works on a very deep level. After a session the body can continue to unwind and reorganize for up to 72 hours. It is a good idea to allow time to rest after a session, and not have any strenuous activities planned.
It is a good idea to not schedule any strenuous activity for at least the next 24 hours after your session, and sometimes for 48 hours. Your body will be processing and integrating a lot of new information, as well as building new pathways of movement. If you exert your body too soon, there is a good chance that you will habitually engage the old ways of doing things, thereby overriding the new emerging pathways. By giving yourself some time and space after the session your body will have a chance to integrate and strengthen, forming more productive and easeful ways of being and doing.
You may also want to consider taking a walk outside. Walking is great for integrating new information as well as oxygenating your blood. Be gentle with yourself. Sometimes emotions that have been stored in the tissues of your body find their way out during or after the session. This is energy in motion, and for some, part of the healing process. As much as you can, allow this to happen. It will pass leaving you with a lighter, freer feeling.
Some people occasionally experience a worsening of their symptoms after a Craniosacral session. This too can be part of the healing process and is usually soon followed by marked improvement in overall well-being. Even still, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about this process.