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Craniosacral Therapy Certification

Approved for 8 Online Continuing Education Units/Credits (CEU's) for Pennsylvania Licensed Massage Therapists

Receive Your 8 CEU's Now

Approved for 8 Online CEU's for Pennsylvania Licensed Massage Therapists. Cost $100.00 / Certificates Awarded Upon Completion.

Please allow time for your purchase to process. We will contact you via email with instructions to access the online course as soon as your payment is complete. Please make sure your email address is correct. Thank you for your patience. 


If you are new to the subject, Craniosacral Therapy (CST) will be a dramatic departure from the way you may have worked with or viewed the traditional healing profession in the past. CST is a method of using light touch, internal listening skills, and a healing attitude or intention to evaluate whole-body health and to invite the body to self-correct.

The allopathic model of Western medicine, which has been the standard for more than a century, is based on the principle of trying to rid the body of the symptoms of illness and disease. Medications are delivered to quell fever, infection, swelling, or dysfunction and to normalize biochemical imbalance. Surgery and other invasive procedures are routinely employed to replace or supplement medications, and using the same treatment protocols on similar patients in a consistent manner is the standard.

Yet Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathy, which is the forerunner of CST, once said that anyone can find disease. Our role is to find health.1 That is why CST is a world apart from the idea of standard doses and interventions. Instead, we are working in concert with the client’s inner wisdom to help the body regain its natural state of health.

Our approach is based on gently joining with the client in a field that represents the living ocean of fluid that permeates and surrounds the brain and spinal cord—the cerebrospinal fluid. Our standard, if there is one, is to blend with the client, listen to the body with sensitive palpation skills, and encourage the conditions that allow the body to self-correct. We are melding, blending, trusting, inviting, and holding a therapeutic presence by being fully in the moment with a client on a multitude of levels: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

In this way, CST enhances the function of the central nervous system much like a farmer helps grow a garden by irrigating the fields with life-giving water. CST practitioners encourage the production and distribution of the cerebrospinal fluid, the life-giving waters of the brain. Just as water helps nutrients reach the plant life, the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid supports the health and vibrancy of the brain and spinal cord.2


By mobilizing the fluid and soft tissues throughout the body, CST triggers each individual’s self-healing mechanisms.3 Whether it is used as a primary modality or as a complement to other therapeutic approaches, it can produce significant results in a full spectrum of medical conditions. Along the way it brings great depth and meaning to life, not only for your clients, but for you.

CST had a colorful history long before the discovery of the craniosacral system—the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that protect the brain and spinal cord—by the American osteopath William G. Sutherland. Its origins can be traced to Swedish scientist, philosopher, and physician Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), who introduced the world to tremulations or vibrations in the body. In 1719, he wrote that “tremulatory movements begin in the fluid which is contained in the membranes,” and “our whole living and moving nature endeavors to express itself by means of tremulations,” and “the tremulation requires a tension for its swift and proper communication to the cranium and the other bones.”4,5

Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917) taught and wrote about several core principles in the late 1800s that formed the basis for the field of osteopathy, which is considered the forerunner of cranial osteopathy and CST. The principles included his belief that the body is a whole interconnected unit, that structure dictates function, and that the body is self-regulating and contains all the inherent pharmacopeia to naturally heal itself. He called cerebrospinal fluid “the great river of life” and said, “He who is able to reason will see that the great river of life must be tapped and the withering fields irrigated at once or the harvest of health will be forever lost.”4,6,7 He also said that “the soul of man with all the streams of pure living water seems to dwell in the fascia of the body.”1 Fascia is the tissue that runs like a three-dimensional web throughout the body from head to toe.

William G. Sutherland (1873-1954), the founder of cranial osteopathy and a student of Still, used the principle that structure dictates function as the basis for performing crude experiments on himself to prove that the sutures or joints between the cranial bones of the skull had to exist to allow those bones to move in some form or fashion, no matter how slightly. He went on to define the craniosacral system movement as flexion and extension, and he developed manual therapy techniques that could balance the reciprocal tension mechanism that circulates cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spine.8 In his honor, the central gathering place of the cranial membranes (the straight sinus) is named Sutherland’s fulcrum.

Sutherland also made us aware of the importance of the sphenoid and occiput in manual therapy, and he taught us how to recognize lesion patterns in the cranium. Even today, his most famous teaching—“Be still and know”—is highly regarded in the field of CST. And his theories continue to influence the gentle manual techniques and concept of healing presence used by CST practitioners to sense the subtle pulsations of the craniosacral system, to determine where the system is restricted, and to ascertain where on the body to apply the manual techniques that invite it to return to its natural state of health.2,4,7

John E. Upledger (1933-2013), once a student at Still’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri, became interested in Sutherland’s work in 1971 after he assisted at neurosurgery. As the surgeons were opening up the patient’s spine to remove a piece of calcified plaque from the dural tube—the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord—Upledger was trying to hold the dura still, but he could not stop it from pulsing in and out of the incision site, and no one in the surgical suite understood what was causing this. Intrigued, Upledger set out to understand what he had witnessed. That led him to study Sutherland’s theories in depth, and he went on to become a skilled cranial osteopath.

In 1975, Upledger received a research grant from Michigan State University that would mark another turning point in the evolution of CST. Along with a team of scientists and researchers, he was charged with either proving or disproving Sutherland’s theories about the movement of the cranial bones. The team came up with compelling studies demonstrating that cranial sutures are not fused as was taught in the allopathic medical field. Finally, they had scientific evidence supporting Sutherland’s theories on cranial motion.9

Upledger went on to teach CST using Sutherland’s manual techniques in a format he called the 10-step protocol. In the mid-1980s he began teaching craniosacral therapeutics around the world under the trade name CranioSacral Therapy. Clinically, he brought the topic of somato-emotional processing into his work by demonstrating how to use CST to liberate physical restrictions and dysfunction due to emotional energy held in the body. Most therapists, bodyworkers, physiatrists, and psychologists today agree that emotions can be held in the body, and they are often a source of disability. Upledger also introduced the use of imagery and dialogue to CST, along with many other important concepts.2,10

With the ever-advancing research in the neurosciences, our understanding and practice of CST are also ever changing. Now there are many schools that teach CST, because this beautiful and profound form of therapy deepens the more one studies and applies it. Working with the craniosacral system is like tapping into another world. Like the ocean that the rhythmic movement of the craniosacral system resembles, the system is alive and teeming with life and wonder. It has within it moments of a fluid and fluctuant nature, and also surprising fulcrums and pivot points of stillness that the founders of this work could only attribute to our divine nature.

Clients, students, teachers, and colleagues have all marveled at the structural changes that can occur as a result of CST, as well as at the conscious awareness this potency of movement brings. Indeed, many practitioners believe that the movement of the craniosacral system has its own form of consciousness and that the fluid will come to a stop when the answers to life’s big questions suddenly come into view for the person on the treatment table. In this way, CST can help answer questions like, “What is my body trying to tell me or show me about life and health?” and “What do I need to do to become healthy again?”

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Receive Your 8 CEU's Now

Approved for 8 Online CEU's for Pennsylvania Licensed Massage Therapists. Cost $100.00 / Certificates Awarded Upon Completion.

Please allow time for your purchase to process. We will contact you via email with instructions to access the online course as soon as your payment is complete. Please make sure your email address is correct. Thank you for your patience.