The following questions and answers apply mainly to CranioSacral Therapy. It is the primary treatment modality that I use. When other treatment options seem more appropriate, I will discuss them with you before using them.

What is the craniosacral System and what is CranioSacral Therapy?

The craniosacral system is a physiological system of the body that consists of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord); the fluid that bathes and protects it (cerebrospinal fluid); the membranes that surround the central nervous system and contain this fluid (the dural membranes); and the bones that attach to these membranes (the cranial bones and the sacrum).

The production and re-absorption of the cerebrospinal fluid causes a rise and fall in the pressure within the membrane system, which is transmitted through the soft tissue of the body. This can be felt anywhere on the body and is known as the craniosacral rhythm. The symmetry, quality, amplitude, and rate of this rhythm give the CranioSacral therapist insight into the proper working of your craniosacral system.

CranioSacral Therapy evaluates and treats restrictions in the body's complex web of connective tissue that can negatively impact the functioning of the craniosacral system.

Because of the complexity of the connective tissue, symptoms that you experience in one part of your body may be caused by restrictions in a seemingly unrelated part or parts of your body.

Many people have found that CranioSacral Therapy was able to help them when nothing else could. That is because CranioSacral Therapy addresses the cause of the problem rather than chasing its symptoms.

Are there any conditions where CranioSacral Therapy is not recommended?

There are only a few situations when it would not be advisable to receive CranioSacral Therapy. Any condition where small changes in intracranial pressure would pose a risk would be considered to be a contraindication. That would include acute aneurysm or severe bleeding disorders that may be affected by these small pressure changes.

With so many therapies to choose from, why is CranioSacral Therapy a good option for my particular problem?

  • CranioSacral Therapy is successful in treating a very wide range of illness, pain, and dysfunction. The list includes:
  • migraines and headaches
    chronic neck and back pain
    stress and tension-related problems
    motor-coordination impairments
    infantile disorders
    learning disabilities
    orthopedic problems
    brain and spinal cord injuries
    chronic fatigue
    central nervous system disorders
    TMJ syndrome
    post-traumatic stress disorder
    and many other conditions
  • It is safe. With very few exceptions (mentioned above), CranioSacral Therapy is completely safe, has no negative side effects, and can be used with everyone. There is no rebound effect that is sometimes seen in more intrusive bodywork (like deep tissue), no toxicity from drugs, no scarring from surgery. (In fact, scarring is often responsible for problems later on in life that appear unrelated to the initial scar. These problems respond very well to CranioSacral Therapy as well.
  • It is cost effective. Not only is it a fraction of the cost of some of the more conventional approaches, it does not contribute to, and may help reduce, the time lost from work. CranioSacral Therapy finds and treats the cause of your problem, therefore it requires fewer visits and you can expect more lasting results.
  • It is good for you. Even if your problem is not the result of a dysfunction in the craniosacral system and is not directly helped by the therapy, regular sessions of CranioSacral Therapy has an overall beneficial effect on the body including stress reduction, improved immune response, balanced musculature for better posture, enhanced fluid exchange, etc.
  • It feels good. Many people receive CranioSacral Therapy regularly because it can be so pleasant to experience.

What can I expect the session to be like?

Except for your shoes, you will be fully clothed during the session - loose fitting clothing works best. If you decide to chose another therapy, you will be asked to remove articles of clothing as appropriate (you will always be draped so that you are not exposed) . The therapist will gently and respectfully hold various places on your body to tune into your craniosacral rhythm and to locate and release tensions in your system. Most people find this very relaxing and you may fall asleep or go into a dreamlike state.

Sometimes the symptoms will actually get worse during the session. Believe it or not, this is a very good sign. It means that the therapy is addressing the cause of the symptoms. The discomfort usually passes before the sessions ends.

Occasionally emotions that are tied to old traumas may arise. With your consent, the therapist is able to guide you through these emotions and very often dissipate the energy that keeps the trauma "stuck" in your tissues.

Is there anything that I need to do after a session?

It is best to take it easy for the next 24 hours after receiving CranioSacral Therapy and you should drink plenty of water. Although it may not be obvious to you during the session, your body has done a lot of work, self-correcting, and will actually continue to make subtle changes for days (or weeks) after the session.

You may feel tired for the next couple of days or you may feel energized. Your symptoms may intensify for a short time or you may experience other symptoms or you may feel great. Everyone is different and experiences will vary.

How many sessions will I need? Do I have to continue with the therapy forever?

Because you are unique, the number of sessions that you will require cannot be compared with anyone else's, even if they have a similar problem. Some people will only need one session while others may need to go on for a longer time. You will usually begin to feel changes after your first session and by the third session, you should definitely know if CranioSacral Therapy is going to be a good option for you.

Some people find that the therapy is so pleasant and so beneficial to their general health and well being, that they continue to receive regular sessions even after their initial problem has been resolved.

How will I know if it's working?

Any change in your symptoms is a good thing. We are used to expecting immediate relief as a sign that we are getting better. Because CranioSacral Therapy aims to correct the problem rather than mask the symptoms, your course of improvement may differ significantly from what you are used to expecting. CranioSacral Therapy helps your body to make its own corrections and the immediate results are unpredictable - but ultimately, your body will do what it needs to do to heal. By your third session, you should have a pretty clear idea how much CranioSacral Therapy has helped you.

If I don't believe in CranioSacral Therapy, will it still work?

CranioSacral Therapy has been successfully used to treat newborns and animals. You do not have to believe in it to receive benefits from it. If you are skeptical, it is best to try to keep an open mind (be neutral). Your mind powerfully influences your body, so if you decide that it anything doesn't work, your beliefs could make it so.

How can I learn more?

For any questions that you might have, or to set up an appointment for a consultation and evaluation, please call or email me at:

Irwin D. Hoenig CMT, CST
(301) 604-2172
(410) 963-6609

To read more about CranioSacral Therapy, there are two books, written by its developer and chief researcher, Dr. John Upledger, which I recommend:

Your Inner Physician and You
CranioSacral Therapy - Touchstone for Natural Healing

You may also visit the Upledger Institute's website: www.upledger.com


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