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  • Writer's pictureShelly Hoekstra

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy & Its Roots of Origin, Osteopathy

William Garner Sutherland, DO discovered a subtle energetic wave that passes through our bodies. He believed this wave to be an essential component to our existence and saw it as an interconnection with a universal life force that he called, the Breath of Life. This is the foundation of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, a practice that utilizes these forces in a therapeutic process to create healing for individuals at all levels, mind body, and spirit.

This method of restorative healing has origins in osteopathy, a holistic medical model that originated in the late 1800s and is prevalent today. Both models have become globally recognized, practiced, and valued as alternative options. Here's a closer look at the evolution of these healing modalities.

Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathy is a comprehensive holistic medical practice that looks beyond symptoms alone, treating the person as a whole, mind, body, and spirt. This model includes the examination of individuals' lifestyle and environmental factors, working to heal current conditions, and with a focus on prevention as well. Osteopathy utilizes an integrative approach, looking at alternative treatment options in addition to conventional pharmaceuticals and surgery.

Osteopathic medical school includes the rigorous curriculum of conventional doctors, as well as additional hours of osteopathic manipulative medicine. These techniques relieve pain, improve motion, and assist the body with its innate self-healing process. Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) practice as primary care physicians as well as specialists.


Andrew Taylor Still, DO is the founder of Osteopathic Medicine. His medical journey began as a surgeon during the Civil War. Upon returning home, he found his three children had passed away from spinal meningitis during a viral outbreak, and soon thereafter, he lost his wife during childbirth.

During this time of great personal upheaval, Still sought to find purpose in these tragedies. He observed that the majority of people who had died during the meningitis epidemic had received harmful medications for their ailments, and that in countries where these harmful medications were not available, the people survived. This was a revelation for him that the physical body has the ability to self-regulate and heal itself if there are no blockages. From this point on, he dedicated his life to understanding the human body and developing a healthy alternative medical model.

Still focused on the body systems and the interconnection between them. He identified the musculoskeletal system, made up of nerves, muscles, and bones, as a key component to overall health. He developed a process of manipulating the spinal bones in order to release blockages. Once these barriers were removed, most often, the body could then utilize its inherent ability to heal itself.

In 1982, Still became the founding father of the first school of osteopathy in Missouri. Since that time, this practice has flourished worldwide.

During Still's lifetime, it was imperative to him to keep harmful pharmaceuticals out of osteopathy. However, following his death in 1917, pharmaceutical medications were incorporated into this practice. Other countries have stayed true to its origins.

Craniosacral Therapy

William Garner Sutherland, DO, was a student of Still’s, graduating with honors in Osteopathic Medicine in 1900. Sutherland began extensively researching the skull and performing experiments on himself. His studies revealed that the bones of the skull have movement (as was not the general belief at that time), and he became an expert in eliminating blockages in the human head through subtle manipulations.

This was the origins of Craniosacral Therapy, a biomechanical method of gentle manipulations that remove blockages of fluids in and around the central nervous system, including the skull, spine, and pelvis. The elimination of these blocks provides restoration of health.

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy

Sutherland’s additional research led him to the discovery of rhythmic undulations that palpitate within our bodies that are similar to that of the tides, and he began referring to it that way. He developed a methodology of working with these internal forces and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy was born. He taught his students to focus on and rely upon the tide. These movements have been linked not only to the physical body, but to mental, emotional and spiritual health. Restrictions of the flow of these movements interfere with the bodies self-healing process. A physician’s interaction with this flow, allows for therapeutic healing results.

The therapists goal therefore, is to ignite the innate healing abilities within the individual. Therapists are a tool that help break through blockages that prevent the healthy flow of our internal tides. These restrictions are created by stress, injury, and emotional trauma. When these barriers are removed, the self-healing process can then ensue.

Craniosacral biodynamics has undergone advancements since its early development and is now taught and practiced around the world as a modality of its own right. As a recent medical model, scientific research is needed. However, prolific anecdotal results are proving incredibly positive.

Typically, sessions are one hour and performed while lying down on a massage table with clothes on. This is a non-invasive, gentle, hands-on modality. Three to ten sessions are most common, which are sometimes followed-up with occasional maintenance sessions. Your practitioner will offer guidance depending on what you are receiving treatment for. Open up your mind and explore the extraordinary alternative options available.


Phone: (413) 569-8048


© 2021 Shelly Hoekstra, Life Coach & Alternative Healing

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