Cranial Osteopathy was introduced by William Garner Sutherland D.O. (1873-1954) over a century ago. His journey began when he noticed that the cranial sutures of the temporal bones were “beveled like the gills of a fish” indicating the ability to allow for expanding and contracting movements with the parietal bones. His conversations about this discovery with his mentor, Dr. Andrew Stills, the founder of the osteopathic school in Missouri, began the odyssey. Both men believed the system was “designed to breath”. He called this breathing movement, the primary respiratory mechanism. The idea that the bones of the skull could move was contrary to contemporary anatomical belief, then and today by some scientists and medical practitioners. Dr. Sutherland was a deeply spiritual man and later described the origin of the wave that is palpated by skilled practitioners, as the Breath of Life from the Book of Genesis 2:7. This was an acknowledgement of the vital force as a as a fundamental aspect of osteopathic philosophy.
The cranial system is a semi-closed, hydraulic system comprised of the spine, the skull, its cranial sutures, diaphragms, fascia of the body and the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) which flows through the spinal cord. There are three approaches to craniosacral therapy that have evolved since Dr. Sutherland first began investigating the cranial system. They are called the mechanical, functional and biodynamic models. Each refers to the amount of intervention on the part of the practitioner. Dr. Sutherland’s own journey moved from the intervention of the mechanical model to the softness and listening approach of the biodynamic model. My studies also began in the mechanical model with the Upledger Institute, and has moved to the biodynamic approach.
Dr. Sutherland began teaching this work to other osteopaths from about the 1930s until his death in 1954. His work was at first largely rejected by the mainstream osteopathic profession, challenging the closely held beliefs among practitioners. Obviously, this happens throughout any discipline that is practiced on the planet. Great thought is often challenged. Craniosacral Therapy comes under attack and even ridicule, because at this time, those who disbelieve in its authenticity and value because of the lack of “scientific support” for this powerful model of healing. It was only recent that some in the medical profession accepted the 4,000 year old discipline of Acupuncture. Dr. Rollin Becker, DO was one of Dr. Sutherland’s accomplished proteges. He gave up his standard model of Osteopathic practice after 20 years to spend his last 35 years of practice performing craniosacral therapy because of its efficacy! Dr. Sutherland practiced it for 54 years! Dr. James Jealous, the leading proponent of the Biodynamic approach to this healing modality, has been practicing successfully for 45 years! In my own practice, I have clients who have suffered from debilitating migraine headaches for decades and find lasting relief! TMJ patients in excruciating pain become pain free in just a few sessions. I could continue to support this findings with many testimonials. Dr. John Upledger’s institute has trained over 100,000 people to date and there would be a legion of testimonies to the efficacy of the work from many of them. The same disbelievers of this work who are searching for scientific validation can only throw drugs at the problem and the people who finally come to Craniosacral Therapy do so because the “proven methods” have given them no relief! And, often times, the side effects of the prescribed drugs are impossible to live with. Again, I am not asking anyone to “throw out the baby with the bath water” and give up medical treatment, I am only suggesting that one find out for themselves if alternative and complimentary approaches to health and healing prove valuable. I can assure you of this, I have made a wonderful living, without the benefit of third party insurance because it does work. Science doesn’t understand totally the mechanisms for homeostatic response. Shamans have been using unsubstantiated methods for thousands of years. My practice has survived well based on word of mouth and you can go to the testimonial section on this website to document the value of the work! Just think about some of those in history who were ridiculed and imprisoned…Copernicus and Galileo! “I rest my case, your honor”.
Towards the end of his life Sutherland believed that he began to sense a “power” which generated homeostatic responses within the clients’ bodies without any influence of the therapist, except reflection through witnessing, not unlike some of the theories behind Quantuim Physics. This discovery changed his entire treatment focus to one of spiritual reverence and subtle touch. He told his students to touch without touching, to be still and know. This spiritual approach to the work is now known as both ‘biodynamic’ craniosacral therapy and ‘biodynamic’ osteopathy, and has been influenced immensely by practitioners such as Rollin Becker, James Jealous (biodynamic osteopathy), and Franklyn Sills biodynamic craniosacral therapy (who I studied with in the UK for two years.)
Craniosacral therapy is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction, including:
- Migraine Headaches
- Chronic Neck and Back Pain
- Motor-Coordination Impairments
- Central Nervous System Disorders
- Chronic Fatigue
- Emotional Difficulties
- Stress and Tension-Related Problems
- Fibromyalgia and other Connective-Tissue Disorders
- Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
- Neurovascular or Immune Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder