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What is Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy?


Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) is a light touch form of therapy that has roots originating in Osteopathy. Dr. Still was the first Osteopathic Doctor, and he believed that structure and function in the body were interconnected, and that the body is a self-correcting system. His teachings impacted Osteopathic students such as Dr. William Sutherland, who spent much of his life showing that the cranial bones (the bones of the head) move (micro millimetres). This discovery makes one wonder how cranial bones move. Sutherland noticed that the system as a whole moves around the motion of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF runs in a rhythmic motion along the spine, into the cranium, and back down the spine to the sacrum (a bone at the bottom of the spine just above the tailbone). He referred to this involuntary movement as ‘primary respiration’. As this fluid interacts with the structures around it, (such as membranes, bones, joints, muscular tissue etc), a Craniosacral Therapist can get a sense of restrictions, holding patterns, balance, and health within the body as a whole. As the body interacts with the therapists touch, often times it will lead the therapist to where those restrictions, or patterns of experience reside within the tissue. In this sense, we are honouring Dr. Still’s original belief that the body is a self-correcting system, and communicates its intelligence and wisdom with the acute perceptual touch of a Craniosacral Therapist.


Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, in particular, has two big ideas. One: the whole body expands and contracts in a rhythmic or tidal way. Two: there is an intelligence expressed through the whole body (Sumner and Haines 2010). The first belief can be generalised in the image to the right.



The second idea, that the body has an intelligence, is key to Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapists. To connect to tension and dysfunction, we first have to acknowledge the presence of health. Often times the system can get caught up in pain cycles that make it hard to discern where exactly the dysfunction started in the first place. This response is natural, but can oftentimes be frustrating for clients dealing with chronic pain.

The therapist can assist with this by creating a touch that connects to, not just tension and dysfunction, but also to health and vitality. When this type of touch is created between the therapist and the clients system, the body as a whole delegates where and how the treatment plan unfolds. This often leads the therapist to areas more involved with the root of the dysfunction, instead of the symptoms of the dysfunction, which may be felt elsewhere in the body. This also allows the clients system to integrate shifts at a more tolerable pace, as not to overwhelm the system. It’s frequently said in the Craniosacral world that “the most intelligent thing in the room is the body”.


Sumner G & Haines S. 2010, A Practical Guide to Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Cranial Intelligence, Singing Dragon, London, p. 23, 28 (image)

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