Dissolving the Grips of Addiction With CranioSacral Therapy

The craniosacral therapy modality of bodywork has its origins in Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. William Garner Sutherland graduated from The American School of Osteopathy in 1900 and became fascinated by the mobility he discovered in the skull’s 22 bones. It was taught that these bones fused after birth in medical school, but he found this not to be true. The craniosacral system is comprised of the skull, brain, spinal cord, sacrum, and the membranes, tissues, and fluid that hold it together. The cerebrospinal fluid has been described as one of the most potent and vibrant elements in the body. It is constantly cushioning, nourishing, and removing toxins from the central nervous system.

When this system is stagnant, our brain and body do not function optimally. The flow of cerebrospinal fluid can be affected by physical and/or emotional stress and trauma to the body. Our body contracts down to a deep cellular level when faced with anything that our being perceives as unsafe. Stress to our system can be from accidentally banging one’s head on something or being on the other end of harsh words. When we are not given the support or lack the tools to process and heal, our body’s cells hold this emotion and physical pain, compensating and waiting until there is a safe space to resolve it.

In addiction and substance abuse, most of the time, alcohol and drugs are used to suppress unwanted physical and emotional. This pain is buried down into the central nervous system, masked but still present. A skilled craniosacral therapy professional has been trained to sense where the craniosacral system needs support and contact to process and let go of what is holding a client back from experiencing inner peace and calm. It is the therapist’s duty to create a safe, neutral, and comfortable sanctuary where the client can feel safe and nurtured without judgment. The client can verbally share as much or as little as they feel comfortable with as they sit or lie prone (face up on their back) on a massage table, remaining fully clothed.

When the client is ready, the therapist begins with a light hold, usually at the feet, spine, or head. The craniosacral therapy professional checks in with the client making sure they feel at ease while the nervous system is listened to in a very still way. Without an agenda, stress and trauma in the body can begin to unwind by contacting this system. Clients often feel like they are floating on a cloud or sinking deep into the table. They might feel a cooling sensation or warmth; sometimes, one can get a sense of their cerebrospinal fluid, moving in a wavelike motion up and down their spine or in their head. It is not unusual for clients to report a relaxing state and sensations that they have difficulty describing.

Tears might arise, and the client can verbally process or be with what comes up in silence. Pain can also arise as the discomfort that has been masked is acknowledged to release then. The craniosacral therapy system possesses innate wisdom and intelligence that knows how to heal the body. Sometimes, it requires a therapist’s support to guide and create a safe place for this to occur. The body, mind, and spirit will only begin to process what it is ready for. This is one of the most beautiful reasons craniosacral therapy can be so effective in treating trauma. It is a gentle and non-invasive approach that can go deep to the roots where true healing arises.

What is Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral Therapy is an impactful methodology that is widely recognized to benefit people struggling with a range of challenges. Craniosacral Therapy has applications relating to physical health, mental health, addiction recovery, and trauma.

At Villa Kali Ma, we integrate Craniosacral Therapy into our comprehensive holistic programs for women, because of its power to help create whole-body recovery. Craniosacral Therapy has positive effects for women on the path to restoring wellbeing after a mental health episode, addiction, trauma, or all three.

Craniosacral Therapy approaches healing through addressing irregularities in fluid and membranes that connect to the cranium and the sacrum.

The sacrum is the flat, triangular bone in the back of the pelvis that connects into the spine. The cranium is the skull, the protective structure that shapes the head and face, and which contains the brain.

Craniosacral Therapy works with body systems that include mechanisms of the central nervous system. The spinal cord, the skull, cerebrospinal fluid, and membranes connecting the brain and the spinal cord are all therapeutically manipulated through Craniosacral Therapy sessions.

Because the craniosacral system of the body is intimately related to pain, mood, stress, and our autonomic nervous system, (the part that regulates the so-called “fight-flight” response that becomes disturbed through trauma), it is a powerful point of entry into the human experience.

Why Craniosacral Therapy is essential for your health

Craniosacral Therapy has benefits for our health because in therapeutically targeting the craniosacral system, it influences the musculoskeletal system, the vascular system, the endocrine system, and the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

It is generally accepted that Craniosacral Therapy works because it removes restrictions in the tissues of the craniosacral system. When tissues of the craniosacral system are creating blockages because they are stiff or stuck, this causes problems in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

Cerebrospinal fluid blockages can create pressure on nerves and cause knock-on effects of further tightness and constriction throughout other tissues and systems in the body. Rigidity of connective tissues has been cited as contributing to, if not causing, serious problems in the body including chronic pain, reduced range of motion, and inflammation.

Craniosacral Therapy has been used with success to address mental health imbalances such as depression and anxiety. Back and neck pain, intestinal disturbances, and fibromyalgia are also known to be alleviated through craniosacral work.

By releasing tension and compression in the cerebrospinal fluid, skull, sacrum, and soft tissues surrounding the central nervous system, Craniosacral Therapy has far reaching effects that promote overall health and wellbeing.

It’s important to note that all of these systems deeply affect emotions and cognitions as well, and are clear points of interface between the physical body system and what might be called our more interior or subjective experiences of meaning, purpose, and identity.

The ability to target deep blockages impacting nervous system regulation and communication across systems of the body, means that Craniosacral Therapy has an important role to play in recovering mental health and in sustaining a life free of substances, even where trauma has left an impact on a person’s personality.

Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy during recovery

For women recovering from trauma, mental health problems, and/or addiction, Craniosacral Therapy has a lot to offer.

Craniosacral Therapy has many health benefits: boosting immunity, reducing pain, and healing irregularities in the nervous system.

Craniosacral Therapy also stimulates the body to recognize its own capacity for healing the deep causes of disease. As the body experiences how tiny adjustments increase communication between different body systems, the body learns. This means that after some Craniosacral Therapy sessions, the body carries on making positive changes even after the therapy is done.

What the body learns through Craniosacral Therapy adjustments is carried over to other areas of life. Subtle corrections and adjustments teach us how we can take care of ourselves, heal our illnesses, and reduce pain.

For trauma survivors, Craniosacral Therapy improves awareness of the body’s stress signals, and promotes the ability to tell the difference between current, real danger and memories of past danger (otherwise known as traumatic stress).

The ability to experience stress without a cascade of negative adaptations, such as substance use or negative mental-emotional coping strategies, is enhanced through Craniosacral Therapy. It is a powerful modality for people who are seeking to recover from any kind of mental-emotional trouble. Villa Kali Ma incorporates Craniosacral Therapy into our programs for women in recovery because we see its role in giving more options for self-regulation.

Reducing tension and chronically held pain in the body naturally is always welcome in recovery, as well, as pain can be a relapse trigger, as well as an extra difficulty when attempting to make life changes. Craniosacral Therapy offers a way to teach the body how to modulate pain organically again.

Overall, Craniosacral Therapy is an effective modality that offers many advantages on the path of recovery from trauma, mental health problems, and/or addiction.

How does Craniosacral Therapy help?

When we are deeply impacted by life events, these impacts are recorded in the body.

The brain processes memories of any overwhelming situation, in which we experienced a threat to our ability to survive, in special ways, different from other memories.
Our memories of a time in which we experienced our life to be threatened are linked to the nervous system in a specific, activating way. They are linked to a kind of nervous system alarm bell, such that any time we experience something that resembles the originally scary events, we feel the same acute distress all over again. Many situations which were life-threatening before because we were small and dependent, aren’t actually life-threatening now, but the brain still responds to them as if they are.

For example, as little babies, the anger or a neglect of our primary caretaker could very well have resulted in not surviving in our little baby bodies. As adults now, however, the anger or neglect of our spouse will not realistically result in our death. Nevertheless, when we perceive the same signals from our partner as we did from our caretakers long ago, our bodies may go into full-blown fight-flight response as though our lives are at stake.

According to trauma research, traumatic memories can be finally processed, resolved, and released when our brain is supportively stimulated to update and relabel these memories as non-threatening.

Craniosacral Therapy is one of the ways that we can make changes at deep enough levels that the body gets the memo that it is, in fact, safe to relax and to let go of the mechanism of constantly alerting us to that ancient danger.

The brain itself, and its connections into the nervous system, also impacts our musculoskeletal structure. We have the breath constriction and muscle tension we do, because of the repeated, habitual mode of experiencing danger.

Craniosacral Therapy can help us by assisting the body to recognize and ease these tensions, postures, and preparations to fight or flee, seeing that these are not currently required of us in order to survive.

Craniosacral Therapy options

Craniosacral Therapy is offered at Villa Kali Ma as a part of our Inpatient and Outpatient programs.

We offer holistic treatment for women who are looking to recover from mental health problems, addiction, and/or trauma, and depending on your needed level of care, you may be able to receive Craniosacral Therapy with us here in our facilities.

We take care to provide Craniosacral Therapy that is appropriately tailored to the treatment aims of the women we serve, who are often struggling with the unique complexity that accompanies dual diagnosis.

Dual diagnosis is the clinical way of saying you have addiction and mental health problems at the same time – and when that is the case, the most effective thing is to treat them at the same time.

Craniosacral Therapy is a powerful form of holistic body treatment for mental health problems, addiction recovery, and trauma, so we incorporate it into our holistic package, whether that’s offered in our residential treatment program or in the community as part of our outpatient services.

You can also receive Craniosacral Therapy by searching for a practitioner of the modality in your local area. There are different certifications for professional Craniosacral Therapy, and when it comes to this particular modality, because of the delicacy of your cerebrospinal fluid and your nervous system, it is especially advisable to look for someone with appropriate training and experience.

As with all practitioners, pay attention to whether or not you like the person, if you feel safe around them, and if they feel credible to you.

If you are working on recovery from mental health problems, addictions and/or trauma, it is Villa Kali Ma’s recommendation that you also seek psychotherapeutic help in parallel. We combine these forms of treatment because we see them working best together, in a mutually enhancing dynamic that targets challenges most helpfully.

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