by Candace Pantoga, CST-T, MS-OTR/L
Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a light touch modality that works with the client’s nervous system to facilitate a return to homeostasis and promote overall wellness. While it can be a stand-alone practice, it works exceptionally well in conjunction with other alternative medicines, like naturopathy.
Craniosacral therapists are uniquely qualified to palpate, evaluate, and monitor the craniosacral rhythm (CSR) and support the client’s body in releasing restrictions in the craniosacral system. The craniosacral system (CSS) includes the membrane, called the dura, that surround the brain and spinal cord and is the container for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), as well as the CSF and related tissues and structures that impact the flow of CSF.
Clients choose CST as a whole body balancing and integrating treatment, to compliment the many other ways that they are taking care of themselves: massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, naturopathy, allopathic medicine, zero balancing, and more.
Typically in a CST session the client is treated face up on a massage table, fully clothed, for about an hour. A session includes an evaluation of the craniosacral system and gentle static hand placement by the therapist where the body has restrictions that impact the craniosacral system (CSS). Restrictions are often found along the spine and the cranium, from head to tail. However, just as often, the craniosacral therapist will identify and treat tightness, scar tissue, or other restrictions in the client’s arms, legs, and torso.
Another way that clients may receive craniosacral therapy is in multiple hands sessions, in which two or more therapists are working with the client. Multiple hands sessions are a wonderful way to give the client’s body an extra boost of support. The effects of multiple hands sessions are exponential. When a client feels that they have been stuck in a pattern, whether physical or emotional, that doesn’t support overall wellness, they choose to receive craniosacral therapy from multiple therapists at once, and find that they are able to shift away from their old patterns. People also seek multiple hands CST when they feel that they have plateaued in their progress or they have a complicated medical condition that requires more therapeutic presence. In certain cases, clients are drawn to “Intensives” in which they receive multiple hands CST for several hours a day over several consecutive days.
I have had the honor of working as a support therapist for many Intensives and, most recently I travelled to Truth or Consequences New Mexico to participate in a Comprehensive Therapy Program (CTP) where Craniosacral Therapy integrates multiple modalities of treatment, including acupuncture, equine, warm water therapy, massage, lymphatic drainage, and more, in a 5-day program. I have witnessed profound healing that is inspiring, humbling and magical. While many people in alternative medicine have heard of CST, many are not familiar with these incredible healing programs that are available to clients.
Several years ago I was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease that changed my life as I knew it. Last winter my symptoms flared and lead me to truly put more faith in craniosacral therapy than I ever had before, including enrolling myself as a client in the 5-day Comprehensive Therapy Program (CTP). I travelled to New Mexico for the CTP where I received 5 ½ hours of treatment a day for five days in a row. The result of this intensive treatment was a significant shift in my quality of life.
For example, on the second day of the CTP I stood up from the table to go to lunch and noticed that after 3 years of becoming more and more internally rotated, my left leg was fully aligned and toes pointed forward. I had many times addressed this issue with physical therapy, massage, Rolfing, chiropractic, and 1:1 CST, with limited results. The intensive multiple hands sessions dramatically changed my stance and thus my gait and balance were improved. The physical gains I made and mental shift about wellness, healing, and my disease, were great and numerous, and would take up too much space to detail. However, the upshot is that on my travels to Truth or Consequences I required a wheelchair escort through the airport and on the flight home I checked my walker and had no need for assistance during my layover.
CST is used as a therapy for a long list of ailments, including: pain syndromes, TMJ disease, concussion, dementia, anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalance, colic, autism, and ADD, and other issues that arise when the CSS is out of balance. There are Comprehensive Therapy Programs, Intensives, Mini-intensives, and many Craniosacral Therapists all over the United States working together to provide multiple hands therapy. Multiple-hands therapy, Intensives, and CTPs are powerful and effective alternatives to experience this healing modality.
For more information on CST, Intensive CST, and CTPs please visit these links: https://www.upledger.com/therapies/index.php http://www.upledgerclinic.com/therapies/intensive-programs.php http://www.integrativeintentions.com/ctp-details-1/
Candace Pantoga, OTR/L is a Craniosacral Therapist in Madison, WI.