CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY & CHILDREN AND CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY(bottom of page)
CranioSacral Therapy originates from a system developed by Dr. William G. Sutherland that became known as Cranial Osteopathy. Dr. John E. Upledger, an Osteopathic physician, has written the definitive texts on CranioSacral Therapy (1). SomatoEmotional Release is an integral part of CranioSacral Therapy and is directly related to the discoveries of Dr. Upledger and the research that started at Michigan State University in 1975.
At Michigan State University Dr. Upledger led a multidisciplinary research team in a scientific study of the Cranial Osteopathic approach. At that time the Cranial Osteopathic approach of Dr. Sutherland was that a fluid mechanism within the brain and spinal cord caused the bones of the cranium to rhythmically move. Any restriction of the cranial bones, sacrum and related structures would cause a varying degree of physiological and neurological dysfunction, from back aches to headaches to severe personality disorders.
The Michigan State University research team verified that 1) intrasutural material allows for cranial bone motion; 2) individual cranial bone motion was detected by utilizing radio waves transmitted across electrodes implanted into the parietal bones of monkeys; 3) a positive relationship between an elevated total craniosacral motion restriction scores and learning disabilities in grade school children; 4) a pressure stat model was used to explain the craniosacral rhythm as the inflow and outflow of cerebrospinal fluid from the brain and spinal cord. The cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the choroid plexuses in the ventricles of the brain. It moves from the ventricles into the dural membranes, which surround the brain and spinal cord, and out into the cranial venous sinuses. The craniosacral motion is due to the hydraulic force of the cerebrospinal fluid on the bones via the dural membranes. A neural mechanism based on stretch and pressure receptors in the sutures supports this pressure stat model.
In his research with autistic children, Dr. Upledger discovered the use of multiple hands therapy utilizing the craniosacral rhythm as a significant indicator for release of tissue restrictions. After a number of cranially directed releases, the child’s body began to move spontaneously. With sensitive awareness, Dr. Upledger and his assistants followed the child’s body motion while supporting the limbs until the body came to a point of stillness. This point of stillness was the stopping of the craniosacral rhythm. This point was significant in that the body tissues released and softened. Using this approach, Dr. Upledger and his assistants were able to facilitate the reduction of the high amount of tension in the children’s bodies. The tactile defensiveness of the autistic children changed to an expression of affection towards other human beings (2).
To date this very same approach is utilized in what is now referred to as SomatoEmotional Release(SER). When an injury to the body occurs, and this includes the birth process, the body not only registers the physical forces acting on it, but also the emotions and thoughts related to the incident. The physical forces coming into the body are dampened by the tissues of the body. The force is absorbed by the tissue often at a great expense to the body tissue. In most instances an emotional force is present at the time of such incidents or accidents, such as fear, anger and guilt. A natural SER process does often occur soon after the incident as one relaxes and processes what has happened. This process includes exhaustion and an outflow of feelings. Unfortunately, this release is not always possible due to other circumstances, such as 1) an automobile accident requiring hospitalization; 2) another person or family member is also hurt and their care comes first; 3)strong feelings of guilt that I caused the accident and I deserve it; 4) infinite variations. In this case the body then walls off this area of disorganized forces in a natural process called entropy. This area of entropy is called an energy cyst. Unless the energy cyst is released, it begins to require more of the individual’s energy to sustain itself.
This growing energy cyst affects other related parts of the body. If another incident occurs and causes another separate energy cyst, the situation becomes more complicated. For example, Dee was referred to me with temporomandibular joint(TMJ) pain. During the evaluation process I noted that structurally her temporal bones, cervical and lumbar spine, and sacrum were unbalanced. I also noticed energy cysts in her pelvis and lower abdomen and lower chest. During the treatment process I relied on the craniosacral rhythm becoming still as a significance indicator to know when Dee’s body was in position to release. I supported her body with light touch into many different positions necessary to release. Some of these positions were painful both physically and emotionally as the held forces exited. She remembered a fall on her tail when she was around eighteen years old. She remembered having an intestinal virus while she was in the Peace Corps in Peru. She released the fear that she experienced during that time and with some of the unusual local(Peruvian) treatments to her lower abdomen. Dee was also very tall and was trying to hide it by slouching. This posture had contributed to her neck pain and the energy cyst in her upper chest. After these releases, Dee began to appreciate her height, her neck pain disappeared and her TMJ pain reduced to very little. Dee had had much dental reconstruction work to balance occlusal surfaces. Now, due to her more comfortable body position, these occlusal surfaces were off and she proceeded to take care of that imbalance.
The healing process follows Herring’s Law of Cure which is based on the homeopathic principles of healing (3). In the healing process old symptoms return in the order of their occurrence, as we saw with Dee. Another of the laws is that a person heals from deep to superficial. The physical body is considered the most superficial, the mind/emotions deeper, and the spiritual aspect the deepest. Some times, although a person wants to get better, the choices at the deeper level seem to be more unbearable than the physical pain. These choices may involve a change in lifestyle and/or a move out of an unsupportive relationship.
The SER process often involves assisting the individual in getting in touch with his/her own inner physician or guide in whatever form it might take. The inner physician/guide helps and supports the individual in understanding the purpose of the pain and may even be the pain. To quote Kahlil Gibran, “…Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so you must know pain. Much of your pain is self chosen. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.” (4) In this way the individual takes responsibility for the healing process and this process becomes his/her own personal growth journey. Dave described his five year period of pain as having his life put through a sieve and having to look at it. He is now moving without pain that was with him so long. Pain, with this view, becomes a teacher for us. With the use of CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional release we understand that the body knows what it needs to do to release its pain.
What has become clearer to me over the years of using CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release along with Zero Balancing is the concept of listening as the essence of the therapy. Listening is a very deep and profound act that facilitates the healing process in ourselves and in those we interact with. What an honor it is for anyone when that person one is relating to says, “I feel heard by you.” This response indicates the person feels he or she has been truly acknowledged. With respect to one’s individual health, that health is a function of how much one listens to one’s own inner wisdom.
For the health care practitioner listening is an art by which the client is assisted in moving towards health. “To find health should be the object of the physician,” said Andrew Taylor Still, founder of Osteopathy: “anyone can find disease.” While diagnosis of a disease or problem can be very helpful in knowing what to treat. The focus is mostly on what is wrong, rather that what is healthy about that individual.
Listening to another person happens in many different ways. Often people simply need to tell their story. Often in the story is the solution to the problem, as the psychotherapist often discovers. Practitioners of body-oriented therapies can feel their clients’ stories in their tissues. Our bodily tissues carry memories of everything that has happened in our lives, both positive and negative. The practitioner’s listening hands acknowledge these memories and help the story to come out. The acupuncturist listens via hearing the sound in the voice, seeing the colors in the face and palpating the pulses of the energy meridians in the body. The intention of the health care practitioner is, through listening, to facilitate balance and movement in the whole person by their particular mode of care.
To feel heard by someone is a truly satisfying experience, as satisfying as a eating a tasty nourishing meal. To feel heard is to be acknowledged for who we really are: a healthy, vibrant, conscious human being. It is the times we feel heard by someone, or touched deeply by someone, that we really feel our life changed. We feel better because someone has acknowledged who we are as a person. That someone, whether friend, relative or health care practitioner, has touched us in a way that seems to touch every cell in us, and we feel acknowledged as a whole.
The art of listening is the act of acknowledging another’s humanness and place in the world, right here in this moment. And it is through being fully in the moment that we can find our own health, and our connection to a greater presence.
1. Upledger and Vredevoogd. CranioSacral Therapy, Eastland Press, Chicago, 1983.
Upledger, John. CranioSacral Therapy: Beyond the Dura, Eastland Press, Seattle, 1987.
Upledger, John. SomatoEmotional Release and Beyond, UI Publishing, Palm Beach Gardens,
2. Upledger, John. SomatoEmotional Release and Beyond, pp. 5-9.
3. Smith, Fritz Frederick. Inner Bridges – A Guide To Energy Movement And Body Structure,
Humanics, New Age, Atlanta, 1986, pg. 172.
4. Gibran, Kahlil. The Prophet, Grove Press, New York.
For more information on the Upledger Institute, visit www.upledger.com.
Children and Craniosacral Therapy
Our children are our treasures, our loves, our growth enhancers and our teachers. We all want the best for them, especially in the realm of health and well being. I have been working with children for over twenty years. I have worked with all ages from the day of birth, to the toddler, to the grade schooler and into high school. They are all unique and different and that way at each age level.
THE NEWBORN CHILD
The many stages of the birth process effect the newborn child. The physicality of the womb to the passage through the birth canal and the reception into our world effect the physical body of the new born. The basis of the craniosacral approach to the new born child is to release traumas of that process. I hold the child and allow and assist her body to move and decompress and expand. The more traumatic the birth the more this process is needed. Many times the experience of colic in the baby is due to compression in the upper cervical vertebrae and occiput, which effects the vagus nerve that innervates the digestive system. Inability to nurse is often due compression in the above mentioned area which will also effect the tongue innervation and swallowing. It is not always the mother’s fault that the child cannot nurse. Hyperactivity in children can be due to this cervical and occipital area being compressed in the birth process and not ever being released. Ear infections and visual problems have similar origins. All of these traumas and compressions can be significantly helped with CranioSacral Therapy (see above article on CST). The emotional energy around the birth process for the parents is a factor as well and can be facilitated.
The craniosacral perspective includes the circumstances around the pregnancy and birth process both physical and emotional. The developmental processes of the child up to the child’s presenting age are very important. For me it is very important to hear it from the mother and father as I observe the child. In most cases these children are very sensitive to their surroundings. This sensitivity and awareness is very important to my treatment process. I understand that they each have some unique gift in that level of awareness and sensitivity. My intention is to touch the child with the awareness of all of that history. I touch the child in a receptive and blending mode. I invite the child to show me who they are via my touch, my intuition, my energy field. The child can then feel me and my receptiveness to who he or she is. I do my dance with the child in the way that the child leads me. It has a lot to do with gaining the child’s trust and meeting the child where he or she is.
With the toddlers to early grade schoolers, so many falls and bumps occur. Their bodies are designed for all of this. I like to teach parents to put their hands on the area that is hurt. The parent energetic field of love and touch surrounds that area and allows the child’s body to relax and release. Of course the parent must be able to relax into this screaming child or they end up amping up the energy of trauma and fear. With more serious injuries that may have required a visit to the emergency room, CST is very helpful in releasing those traumas. CST is very new to the parent, as it is to standard medicine. To often I am found several years later and the child is still suffering from a mild headache that started with that fall down the steps. I will see a visual problem that started with a head-on collision in soccer several years back. The correction of these imbalances can be facilitated by CranioSacral Therapy.
Many of our children are given labels because of an evaluation by a health care professional. One is attention deficit disorder and another that is on a higher scale of severity is Autism Spectrum Disorder. First I don’t really like these diagnosis’ that these children are given. Mainly because the protocol followed usually involves medication. Second, most of these evaluations do not include a craniosacral or body energetics perspective. I acknowledge that there are number of amazing protocols that do involve working with the child on a physical and emotional level. Lastly, compelling evidence is available that indicate one source of the incidence of autism is a reaction to vaccinations1.
When the teenage years come, sports, car accidents and dental/orthodontic work create a whole array of physical problems. I have recently seen a boy who had a head on collision with another boy while playing basketball. Three months later he still has balance problems. On the first visit he shows compression of his head into his neck and thoracic area. I spend a half hour with direction of ease assisting his head to come out of his body (turtle like). In a few days his balance is back. I am treating a man in his forties who came in with severe headaches. The origin of the headaches came from his many collisions in high school and college lacrosse. He now occasionally has headaches every month or two. Facial and head pain from tooth extraction and orthodonitics often shows up 10 to 20 years later. When these teenage injuries are treated at or around the time of the trauma with Craniosacral Therapy, the effects on teenage life and middle age are profound.
CHILDREN AND HUMAN DESIGN AND GENE KEYS
I am also involved in personal research into a new science called Human Design. I am finding that based on the birth time that I can begin to see how these children have a unique design of sensitivity. With this additional awareness I can further assist the child in finding the core of his or her being. In craniosacral terms it has to do with the craniosacral rhythm and the stillness and core midline that assists the self in being unique in this life. In working with any adult or child my goal is to assist the body in finding its own balance and midline through inviting the body into stillness. It is in this stillness state that our true selves come forward. It is an involved process of understanding and acceptance of who we are and who the child is.
I am finding that these children have a design that, in our narrow minded, homogenized world, does not fit into the box. Yet when looking at what their human design is, I am beginning to see the why. Those well versed in Human Design are noting tendencies labeled as autistic in this world are a unique design. That the world does not understand the uniqueness of these children and does not understand how to address them. In short these children do not fit into the proper worldly mold. The answer I feel is still in our hands(CST) and supporting the children in the gifts they do have. And yes, there usually are cranial compressions and other energetic restrictions, usually all around the pregnancy and birth. I offer the Craniosacral Therapy for the child and involve the parents by teaching them craniosacral touch. I offer the introduction to Human Design and Gene Keys to assist the parent in understanding their child from another perspective.
My intention for the child is to assist the body in reaching a balanced state. I use a variety of techniques and mostly CranioSacral Therapy. See above article on CST for more details on the craniosacral system. See appointment page for more information and how to get in touch with Charles.