To become a craniosacral therapist, the student will need to acquire training in this field, and will need to meet any national, regional, and local licensing and certification requirements in order to practice. Training programs, which are often offered through massage therapy and body work schools, can provide students with the necessary education and skills. Students in this field often have a healthcare background, and they may already practice another form of body work. For example, massage therapists may obtain this training so they can offer craniosacral therapy to their clients. A chiropractor or an osteopath also may choose to become a craniosacral therapist as a complement to her current practice.
Cranial osteopathy, a predecessor to craniosacral therapy, was developed by William Sutherland, who was a Doctor of Osteopathy in the late 1800s. The therapy continued to develop and evolve, primarily through the work and studies conducted by osteopaths. John E. Upledger, an osteopathic physician, developed a methodology that he called craniosacral therapy. With the training he developed, a non-osteopath could become a craniosacral therapist.
Cranialsacral therapy involves the therapist manually sensing a patient’s craniosacral rhythm, which is flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. The therapist may manipulate the patient’s skull, spine, fascia, and move the cerebrospinal fluid. A student wishing to become a craniosacral therapist will have the training necessary to follow a series of treatment steps that are appropriate for the individual patient.
Training will cover anatomy and physiology, with particular focus on the skull and spine. Kinesiology and various craniosacral release and therapeutic techniques must be learned. Many programs will include training on the ethical considerations of the practice, because therapists perform body work. Some coursework may be different for students who are currently certified or are a licensed healthcare practitioner, such as those with massage careers, compared to those who are not in a regulated healthcare field. Some schools offer both full and part time training courses.
The student may chose to specialize as a biodynamic craniosacral therapist. This variation is more spiritually oriented. The therapist works with a patient’s life force, a concept that is similar to Chinese Qi or Ayurvedic Prana.
Cranialsacral therapy can be used for treating a number of conditions. It is commonly used for reducing neck and back pain. Other conditions this therapy can be used to treat are temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), migraines, autism, stress, and chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia. In addition to physical disorders, it may be used to treat emotional disorders as well.