by Paul Brown

The Healing Art of Craniosacral Therapy: A Practitioner's Role Part 1, MASSAGE MagazineCraniosacral therapy is a healing modality that grew from osteopathy, the ancient art of bone setting. The subtle art of precise and gentle touch is applied to correct imbalances in the fluid and membranes surrounding and protecting the brain and spinal cord. The practitioner uses specific techniques, along with presence, where sacred space is held by means of mindful awareness for healing. This allows the client to achieve releases from restrictions and tension throughout her entire body. This, in turn, brings about relief from physical pain, restoration of clarity and insight, and the optimization of emotional wholeness.

Craniosacral therapy is valuable for many medical problems and is routinely used as a preventive health measure, as it increases resistance to many ailments. People of all ages, from children to seniors, can benefit from this form of therapy.

The difference
The difference between craniosacral therapy and other modalities is the duration of the techniques that are held on the client, as well as the moment-to-moment attentiveness the practitioner holds to the client’s needs. 

The craniosacral practitioner facilitates the healing of the client’s own healing process, and in doing this the practitioner slows, broadens and eventually stills his attention to the intelligence of the client’s primary respiration system (the totality and complete submicroscopic self-organizing movement of the fluids in the body). When this is done, the body then knows what to do.

What a practitioner does as a skilled technician
As a practitioner, the ultimate priority in this work is to hold the well-being of the client and value the uniqueness of each individual. The client’s body is empathetically connected, allowing for emotional safety. While instinctively remembering the individual’s wholeness, scared space is held within the dynamic stillness that permeates the room. In the session, this leads to the pain and suffering that is felt inside the client’s body, mind and heart. The practitioner consciously breathes in the pain and suffering, synchronizing with the primary respiration that is different with each client, while exhaling loving kindness. Full intention is used for the connection of primary respiration as when we find cohesion with stillness, moving at its own pace. Elevated consciousness is brought about between the client and the practitioner, as he proceeds to be present with an open and loving heart that is necessary for optimal healing.

If the body is carefully listened to, the body will tell the practitioner which pertinent techniques to use during a session depending upon the client’s specific needs. A gentle, sensitive finger touch is used that optimizes the slow and steady (depending on the health of the client) movement within the body known as the cranial wave ( the explanation of the cranial wave is discussed later). In addition to this, precise touch at specific points on the body monitor and interface with the oceanic environment of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This offers relief from pain, deep relaxation and maximum revitalization of body, mind and heart, allowing for the individual to find her way to a state of health and wholeness.

Who benefits from this technique?
Craniosacral therapy is often used as a preventive health measure and as a way for many people to maintain clarity and balance in their everyday activities. Craniosacral therapy is also an excellent complement to many other healing modalities and can assist with pain and dysfunction for many specific medical problems, such as

  • Sinus pressure
  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Central nervous system Disorders
  • Scoliosis
  • Learning disabilities
  • Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries
  • Vertigo
  • Motor-coordination impairments
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Tinnitus (ear ringing)
  • Orthopedic problems
  • Stress- and tension-related problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Neurovascular or immune disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Post-surgical dysfunction
  • Fibromyalgia and other connective-tissue disorders

What makes craniosacral therapy unique?
The most unique aspect of the role of the practitioner is the visionary approach (one who perceives outside, senses what is inside and trusts both at the same time) that allows for him to meet, greet and hold united consciousness with the client—all while waiting for nature to heal the disease.

The practitioner comes in touch with spirit as a quiet, intuitive presence. This moment-to-moment stillness allows him to be guided, as his hands become receptors of healing energy. The practitioner expresses his highest knowing, moving to the place that supports the body, mind and heart as it finds its own profound medicine; a reawakening of the power within each client to come into a place for optimum health. As a practitioner, this carries forth into the work, giving him a deeper sense of love, compassion and, most importantly, presence. Presence then becomes more important than technique. 

Read Part 2 here.

In 2002, Paul Brown graduated from the Milne Institute, a respected international craniosacral program, and became a certified practitioner in craniosacral work. He has been instructing Milne classes Cranial I and II nationwide since 2003 and helps students develop a sense of simplicity, compassion and patience in their craniosacral work. For more information, visit