Frequently Asked Questions on Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST)

From the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America:

Who can benefit from BCST?
Everyone potentially can benefit, though with some, the improvement may be more dramatic than with others. Because BCST builds health in the brain and nervous system, it is effective in assisting the prevention of chronic conditions, including the problems of aging, stiffness, dryness, memory loss, inflammation, immune imbalances. BCST also addresses injuries, even those that occurred long ago and that we had no idea were still affecting us. Birth trauma commonly affects one throughout life unless addressed, for example. And how many of us have not had a head or tailbone injury from sports, falls, violence, or auto accidents? Even recovery from minor surgeries, including dental work, which can create strains and anesthesia residues, can be supported by BCST. The beauty of the biodynamic approach is that it strengthens our whole system and creates a safe environment, so that the body can show these unresolved issues, and the BCST practitioner can facilitate a resolution. Our inner Intelligence is capable, when skillfully supported, of presenting the strains one at a time, in priority order, in a way that does not overwhelm the system but makes it increasingly stronger. We do not need to remember or relive our traumas in order to benefit from their resolution.

Is BCST safe for children?
Children respond well to BCST because it is gentle, non-invasive, and effective in ways they can intuitively recognize. Even small children quickly get used to the work as they develop trust in their practitioner. Pre-verbal children may actually direct the practitioner’s hands to areas of discomfort. Children easily show the dynamics of their experience through movement and sounds. Much subtle work can be done by the practitioner during “playtime” in which the child is observed and assisted in completing unresolved challenges. Parents are often astounded at the way a crabby, hyperactive, or miserable child will fall into deep relaxation or sleep during treatment. The challenge, of course, is the busy toddler who won’t lie still. Here the parent can help out by holding the child as the practitioner makes even brief contacts on the spine, head, and sacrum. A little goes a long way with a child. Whatever can be resolved during infancy or childhood, often in only a few sessions, can potentially prevent decades of medical and psychological treatment later on. Resolution of misaligned forces makes us less accident-prone, because we are not “off-balance”.

Is BCST safe during pregnancy?
BCST is not only safe but recommended during pregnancy, as it calms the nervous system of both mother and child, encouraging emotional bonding which can otherwise be short-circuited due to pre-natal and birth stresses and trauma. The Biodynamic approach can contact the Primal Midline of the infant’s delicate nervous system – the midline that holds our Originality, the state of perfection that enables us to be less affected by negative influences from our genetics. Also, although the growing prenate is highly conscious, s/he does not know the difference between mother’s thoughts and feelings and its own, so when Mom’s system is soothed and balanced during pregnancy, baby gains huge benefits.

Are there manipulations involved?
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is distinguished by its minimal reliance on manipulations of any kind. If the various CS methods could be characterized and compared based on this criterion, the Biodynamic style would be placed at the non-manipulative end of the spectrum. In the Biodynamic approach, the healing process comes from within the client, not from the outside from the practitioner, and the hand contacts are based on listening and following/reflecting the client’s process rather than pushing or manipulating the client towards a theoretical ideal state.

How can I benefit from BCST?
The therapy may surprise you with benefits you hadn’t known were possible, including resolution of symptoms that you had no idea were related to the cranial system or to each other. You may feel lighter, with a sense of more spaciousness within yourself. You may notice more ease in relationships or ability to focus. You may stand straighter or breathe more easily and deeply. Pains may decrease and emotional boundaries may be easier to maintain. It is likely that you will feel deeply relaxed and centered. Because each person is unique, it is impossible for us to say exactly what benefit you will feel, or how long it will take you to feel it, but the above comments are quite common. An example is Rollin Becker, DO, spoke of a client who presented a specific symptom but got up from the session with a great urge to go home, clean the house and put things in order; none of these impulses were on the original agenda. In retrospect they did seem to relate to the presenting condition.

How does it work?
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is focused around creating a safe atmosphere or space for the client, holding appropriate practitioner boundaries and using a very gentle touch. The practitioner listens deeply to the fluctuations of the cerebrospinal fluid within the craniosacral system. The fluctuation of the cerebrospinal fluid creates a variety of tides within the system. As the practitioner — from a place of stillness — listens to these internal tides, the client’s system begins to access its own inner resources ….perhaps a little like finding keys to previously locked doors. The cerebrospinal fluid — as it bathes and protects the brain and spinal cord — carries an intelligence and potency, which becomes mixed with other bodily fluids via the dural membranes. BCST therapists learn to listen deeply to the system, tapping into its inherent intelligence, focusing on the system remembering its original blueprint of health. The therapist encourages the client’s system to access its resources, offering new choices and possibilities for the system at every level. Training, then, includes deep perceptual and centering skills as well as extensive study of the anatomy, physiology, and inherent motion of the craniosacral system.

What kind of symptoms respond best to BCST?
Anecdotal evidence shows BCST may be helpful in addressing such situations as impingement of cranial nerves or spinal nerves, left-right imbalances, head injuries, confusion, feelings of compression or pressure, anxiety, depression, circulatory disorders, organ dysfunctions, learning difficulties, neuro-endocrine problems, TMJ and dental problems, and trauma of all kinds — birth, falls, accidents and other injuries, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, PTSD, loss/grief, surgery, anesthesia, among others. BCST is also excellent as a preventive therapy because it can facilitate the resolution of imbalances within a patient/client’s system that s/he may not be consciously aware of.

How many sessions will I need?
This depends on what your goals are, what symptoms you suffer from, and how readily your system responds to this therapy. As a general rule, three to ten sessions will have a significant impact on most people’s health, and in some cases only one session can make a dramatic difference. Often, clients receive regular sessions for longer periods of time, followed by an occasional tune-up to maintain health.

Why do I “fall asleep” during my sessions?
It is common for people to doze off or at least appear to sleep during portions of a craniosacral session. There are times when a deep, meditative state of consciousness is contacted, when the mind gets out of the way to allow the system to reorganize in some profound way. If your system is tired, you’ll relax and rest, which is deeply healing in itself.