History/2

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History: the 1970s and beyond

The term ‘craniosacral’ was devised by another American (cranial) osteopath, John Upledger, in the 1970s. He used it to distinguish the practice of cranial work from any kind of manipulation as used by structural osteopaths. This also gave the possibility of developing the therapy to enable practitioners to train in craniosacral work exclusively. Dr Upledger founded his own school, the
Upledger Institute. Anthony Arnold teaches a similar approach in his book Rhythm and Touch: The Fundamentals of Craniosacral Therapy.

Meanwhile, another group of cranial osteopaths such as Rollin Becker and James Jealous pursued another approach which came to be known in the late 1990s as ‘biodynamic’, in this case mainly to make a distinction from other cranial osteopaths. Franklin Sills, the principal of the Karuna School and himself a biodynamic teacher and practitioner, defines the word in craniosacral therapy to indicate that ‘there are inherent forces at work, which both organize and maintain the human system in its functioning’1 . However, this seems to be fundamental to any cranial work, and indeed echoes the teachings of the founder of osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still.


Some of these later practitioners have introduced new ideas to the work, including working with an inherent treatment plan, more finesse in the touch and ideas of perceptual fields, a more internal meditative approach, and the concept of the practitioner as witness (see Ged Sumner’s training website)


1 Sills F 2001, Craniosacral Biodynamics, North Atlantic Books 2nd edition p 133

John Upledger

Rollin Becker

History page 1

photo © Mike Harrison