Sharon Gonzales CST-T, LMT, TRE, Reiki Master
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CranioSacral Therapy (CST), is a gentle, hands-on treatment helpful in releasing stored tension and stress. CST was developed by an Osteopath. Gentle touch invites and encourages tension to release, putting your body at ease. Besides treating the overall body, there is a focus on releasing tension at the head, spine, and tail bone, the structures surrounding and supporting our nervous system.
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Craniosacral Therapy or “CST” is a gentle form of bodywork developed by Dr. John E. Upledger, an Osteopathic physician. CST uses light touch and holds to activate the body’s balancing and healing process. It calms the nervous system, affecting all other functions of the body. It does this by helping release restrictions that can enable your body to function more optimally, promote well-being, and strengthen its resistance to disease. This makes CST ideally suited to assist with treating many unwanted conditions.
When feeling tense, anxious, stressed, our body - mainly our nervous system- cannot effectively do its job of self-correcting and healing, leading to disease and other painful conditions. Craniosacral Therapy, or CST, assists the re-balancing of the nervous system, which positively affects the unique relationship the nervous system has with every function in the body. That is why CST can be of great benefit for treating many conditions such as digestive disorders, insomnia, headaches, and other conditions related to stress and tension.
For example: Can you recall how you feel when you are doing something you find relaxing, maybe taking a walk in nature, having fun with your children, playing with your pets, or leisurely enjoying your favorite meal with a loved one? Doesn’t your body feel more calm, relaxed, maybe a feeling of “ahhh.” Perhaps your problems temporarily fade into the background, or you come away with some inspiration? This is your nervous system in a state of balance. Can you compare that “ahhh” state to the way you feel when you are frantically running around, stuck in traffic, eating your meals on the run, bombarded with e-mails and texts to respond to, all the while trying to handle seemingly endless life situations? How do you feel? Do you experience any of these stressful symptoms?: headache, foggy thinking, digestive distress, insomnia, body aches and pains, face and jaw tension, a sense of overwhelm? This is your nervous system out of balance, in a “fight or flight” state. Craniosacral Therapy is a light-touch body therapy that can help balance your nervous system, facilitating its return to a state of relaxation where it can naturally rest, digest, rejuvenate and heal.
What does a Craniosacral Therapy session look like?
A few days before your treatment, you will receive a brief client intake form that is needed before the start of your session. This form helps your therapist prepare in advance for your session. They can learn a little more about you, your needs, and what you would like to receive from your session. It is important to list all health concerns and medication, so your therapist can safely adapt the session to your specific needs.
During your first session, your therapist will take a written case history, listening carefully to the reasons for your visit. This part of the session is vital for gathering information and establishing a good understanding with your therapist. It also helps your therapist customize the session to meet your specific needs and allows her to meet or exceed your expectations.
Next, you will lay on a warm, comfortable treatment table, fully clothed. Soft music and low lighting are often used to increase your state of relaxation.
Your therapist begins with a hands-on, overall assessment of the body. Then, gentle pressure techniques are used to feel tension or disruptive strain patterns in the body’s connective tissue, fascial system, and nervous system.
After the assessment, your therapist will begin treatment. Because the body functions as a whole, treatment may start by focusing on areas other than where your symptoms occur; those areas will also be addressed. Gentle contact with the affected areas, held for a period of time, encourages and supports your body to relax and begin to make the corrections it needs. Although the work is subtle, it can be impactful in helping your muscles and organs naturally relieve stress and for structural areas to ease back into alignment.
During your treatment, an old memory that may need to be addressed might pop up. One could even have an emotional reaction, all positive signs of allowing what has been held within to come up and be released.
How do Craniosacral Therapy sessions work?
Can you recall when you felt nervous, anxious, or scared? That feeling is your nervous system being out of balance. Craniosacral Therapy can support and facilitate your nervous system to come out of a “fight/flight/freeze” state and return to balance and relaxation. When your nervous system is in a calm, relaxed state, it can assist your body and the numerous functions it influences to self-correct and heal.
What may I experience after a session?
Each individual is unique and therefore has a different therapeutic experience. Here are a few examples of what previous clients have experienced:
Relaxed. The feeling of relaxation should not be underestimated. Relaxation is vital to the body’s natural ability to heal and correct! The body cannot optimally do its job when it is in a state of hyper-arousal, fight, flight, or freeze mode.
Feeling more energized and alive.
Decrease in pain and tension.
Enhanced ability to focus.
Functioning from a calmer inner state.
Improved self-awareness and quality of life.
Improved sleep quality.
More Present in the here and now.
Improved healing of injured areas.
A “Healing Response:”
The following possible responses are positive signs, reflecting healthy shifts and improvements in the body. These shifts and improvements can last for days after your session as your system goes through a reorganization process:
Immediate relief from discomfort. Or, there could be a temporary increase in discomfort, even muscle soreness (usually a sign that a once-restricted area is receiving increased blood flow). However, the discomfort typically subsides within 24-48 hours.
Light-headed: This can be caused by increased energy flow, as areas that were once tense are released.
Giving yourself permission and space to fully experience these shifts and staying hydrated to flush out toxins are important to your body’s healing process. An Epsom salt bath may be helpful. If needed, please feel free to reach out to your therapist to discuss any concerns you may have.
Is Craniosacral therapy safe for everyone?
Possibly, but it’s best to err on the side of caution. Consult your physician before scheduling your treatment session if you have experienced any of the following:
Traumatic brain injury
How many therapy sessions will I need?
Each individual’s system is unique and responds differently to Craniosacral therapy. Some conditions may require one or two sessions. Other conditions may need additional treatment over a period of time, depending on underlying conditions and the length of time they have been there. Once the condition has been satisfactorily addressed, a maintenance schedule can be discussed with your therapist.
With Craniosacral therapy, one’s self-awareness and ability to handle life’s challenging situations from a more relaxed state begins to grow. Being more grounded and more relaxed can translate into the ability to handle life’s challenging situations with more grace and ease — more responsive, less reactive.
When should I not receive a treatment session?
There are a few conditions that would prevent you from scheduling a session. For example, you should not book a session if you have a fever, cold/flu, or contagious skin infection.
There can be certain conditions where your therapist may need to adjust techniques, such as fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and avoiding areas completely if there is a cut or a burn. In some rare cases, getting approval from your physician may be a good idea. Please consult with your therapist if you have any doubt.
How long is a therapy session?
The session typically lasts an hour. The first few minutes are to discuss what you would like to receive from your session, followed by approximately 50 minutes on the treatment table, ending with about 5 minutes to integrate the work and provide valuable feedback.
Is Craniosacral Therapy the same as massage?
No, although your therapist may apply massage therapy techniques if needed. In a CST session, you remain fully clothed.
Is craniosacral therapy (CST) covered by insurance?
For the most part, CST is not covered by most insurances. An out-of-pocket payment is required before treatment.
How early should I arrive for my session?
It’s nice to arrive at least five minutes early. This will allow you time to use the restroom and get settled in and relaxed.
What do I do during a treatment?
Please make yourself as comfortable as possible. Your comfort is key to the effectiveness of the session. The more comfortable and relaxed you feel, the more this will allow for the vital flow of energy, nutrients, blood, and other fluids throughout your system. Also, it provides a precious opportunity for your nervous system to do what it knows how to do best, self-heal.
If your therapist wants you to change your position, they will move you or ask for what is needed. Otherwise, feel free to adjust your position to make yourself more comfortable.
Many people close their eyes and relax completely during a session; others prefer to talk. It’s up to you. It is your session, and whatever feels natural to you is the best way to relax. However, the nervous system is more relaxed when we are quiet.
Please let your therapist know immediately if you have any questions or if she can do anything to make your experience more comfortable.
Can I talk during my session?
Sure, if you’d like to. The most important thing to remember is that this treatment is all about you relaxing and enjoying the experience. Many therapists discourage talking in the hope you will relax more, let your mind float freely, and ease into a state of, “Ahhhh.” In some instances, people may feel more relaxed by initially talking and enter into a quiet, body-centered state as the treatment progresses.
It’s essential that if you need anything at all, please speak up. Your therapist is happy to make any adjustments you need, including her touch, to help you feel more comfortable. Your feedback is warmly welcomed.
Am I expected to tip my therapist?
Tips are not expected but welcomed. It is always appreciated to receive the compliment of a “thank you for good service.”
Cancellations and late arrivals:
A 24-hour cancellation notice is required, or you will be responsible for full payment of your scheduled session. If you are late for your appointment, your treatment will be reduced to finish on time for the next scheduled client. However, the usual fee for the treatment will remain the same.
Understandably, things happen that are beyond your control. Please let your therapist know what happened as soon as possible.