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Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral Therapy

Cranial Osteopathy was originated by physician William Sutherland, DO (1873-1954) in 
1898-1900. While looking at a disarticulated skull, Sutherland was struck by the idea 
that the cranial sutures of the temporal bones where they meet the parietal bones were 
"beveled, like the gills of a fish, indicating articular mobility for a respiratory 

Sutherland stated the dural membranes act as 'guy-wires' for the movement of the
cranial bones, holding tension for the opposite motion. He used the term reciprocal 
tension membrane system (RTM) to describe the three Cartesian axes held in reciprocal 
tension, or tensegrity, creating the cyclic movement of inhalation and exhalation of 
the cranium. The RTM as described by Sutherland includes the spinal dura, with an 
attachment to the sacrum. After his observation of the cranial mechanism, Sutherland 
stated that the sacrum moves synchronously with the cranial bones. Sutherland began to 
teach this work to other osteopaths from about the 1930s, and continued to do so until 
his death. His work was at first largely rejected by the mainstream osteopathic 
profession as it challenged some of the closely held beliefs among practitioners of the 

In the 1940s the American School of Osteopathy started a post-graduate course called
'Osteopathy in the Cranial Field' directed by Sutherland, and was followed by other 
schools. This new branch of practice became known as "cranial osteopathy". As knowledge 
of this form of treatment began to spread, Sutherland trained more teachers to meet the 
demand, notably Drs Viola Frymann, Edna Lay, Howard Lippincott, Anne Wales, Chester 
Handy and Rollin Becker.

The Cranial Academy was established in the US in 1947, and continues to teach DOs, MDs,
and Dentists "an expansion of the general principles of osteopathy"[8] including a 
special understanding of the central nervous system and primary respiration.
Towards the end of his life Sutherland believed that he began to sense a "power" which 
generated corrections from inside his patients' bodies without the influence of 
external forces applied by him as the therapist. Similar to Qi and Prana, this contact 
with, what he perceived to be the Breath of Life changed his entire treatment focus to 
one of spiritual reverence and subtle touch.[9] This spiritual approach to the work has 
come to be known as both 'biodynamic' craniosacral therapy and 'biodynamic' osteopathy, 
and has had further contributions from practitioners such as Becker and James Jealous 
(biodynamic osteopathy), and Franklyn Sills (biodynamic craniosacral therapy). The 
biodynamic approach recognizes that embryological forces direct the embryonic cells to 
create the shape of the body, and places importance on recognition of these formative 
patterns for maximum therapeutic benefit, as this enhances the ability of the patient 
to access their health as an expression of the original intention of their existence.

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