William Sutherland, D.O. first theorized about cranial osteopathy in 1900 while looking at a disarticulated skull. He was inspired by the idea that the bones of the skull can move much like the respiratory system by mimicking inhalation and exhalation. For the most part mainstream science rejected his ideas. However, in 1975 his teachings were picked up by two professors. These professors published their works on the concept of “cranial rhythm” and brought about modern day CranioSacral Therapy. This study was authorized by the osteopathic school at Michigan State U. to determine whether there was a provable craniosacral rhythm or not. The first book by Dr. Upledger covered all of the studies validating the existence of a craniosacral rhythm. Dr. Retzlaff, specialized in histology and produced the slides of sutural material with the blood and nerve supply. Dr. Upledger was instrumental in bringing CranioSacral Therapy out of the osteopathic world and into the hands of other health care providers.
A CranioSacral therapist gently massages areas along the spine, the skull, and its cranial sutures. By doing this they improve the passing of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord, realigning the spinal column, and easing inhibitions on the nervous system. This treatment is used to treat mental stress, neck and back pain, migraines, TMJ syndrome, and other chronic pains.
Providers of CranioSacral therapy complete coursework in the field while in a natural setting, thus taking advantage of the connection between mind and nature. Students of CranioSacral therapy include nurses, massage therapists, physicians, and acupuncturists, to name a few. Providers receive training at schools such as the Upledger Institute, which provides certification upon completion of the coursework and a passing score on the CranioSacral Certification Exam.
Credentials and Regulation Bodies
CranioSacral Therapists can hold a certificate in CranioSacral Therapy Techniques and/or earn a CranioSacral Therapy Diploma. Therapists are required to hold a certification and be licensed by a state in order to be certified by the Upledger Institute and the American CranioSacral Therapy Association. It is generally recommended a patient only go to a certified provider. The CranioSacral Therapy Association of North America (BCTA/NA) sets base regulations for practitioners.
The Biodynamic CranioSacral Therapy Association of North America (BCTA/NA) and the American CranioSacral Association are the main professional associations for CranioSacral therapists. These organizations aim to increase awareness, improve education, and advance the science of CranioSacral therapy.
Craniosacral Therapy sessions usually start with an initial consultation and the follow-up sessions. The initial consultation can average $80 to $95. Follow-up sessions are $70 to $80. Many Craniosacral Therapy practitioners will integrate CST into bodywork therapies like massage. Prices for those services will vary according to the main treatment they are providing.