Advanced Cranio-Sacral Classes

Elective Classes Required for Certification

Certification students are required to take a minimum of 4 Elective classes.  These classes allow students to deepen their understanding of Craniosacral therapy while individualizing their studies to their own interests. During the Introductory Workshop, time is allotted discuss briefly the various courses so that students can begin to envision their choices.

By the end of Core I, students must select their four Elective Classes.  Certification students may change one Elective Class registration during the program without being charged a fee but the change must be made at least 30 days prior to the class’ start date, or a $100 late fee will be charged (paid to the Therapeutic Training Center).  Any additional Elective Class registration changes will be subject to a $100 fee regardless of advance notice.

Students are eligible to take Elective Classes as soon as they have taken an Introductory Workshop.  Students are encouraged to consider taking Elective Classes before or after the beginning of their Core Series to help lighten their load of classes during the program.  If a student enrolls in the Certification Program after having taken one or more Elective Classes, their tuition will be adjusted accordingly.

Tending the Therapeutic Relationship: Healing Dynamics, Boundaries and Self-Care

Alongside the particular techniques we use as manual practitioners, we have a particular kind of relationship -- a therapeutic relationship -- with each of our clients. Understanding the complexity of the therapeutic relationship is critical for any integrative or holistic method. In this class, we explore key aspects of these interpersonal dynamics: power differential, types of intimacy and attachment, transference/countertransference, boundary navigation and informed consent. We will highlight clarifying and communicating one's clinical intention, policies and boundaries as well as identifying various methods of self-care. We'll examine the autonomic nervous system and its role in stress, distress and trauma generation. This is a practical discussion, with a focus on identifying stages in the charge/discharge cycle as well as subtle signs of a balanced or overwhelmed system. Simple strategies for working with emotional release are taught within the context of a body-centered practice. Additionally, we can see patterns in the phases of healing that our clients go through -- understanding these patterns allows us to offer guidance to our clients as they heal. Coming from an osteopathic framework, we realize that our skills fundamentally assist the client's inner healing capacity and the tour role in this therapeutic relationship is as a well-informed guide or a midwife. Deepen your understanding of the healing process, your own goals and needs; with this centering, broaden your ability to understand and assist your client's system. This workshop is taught using journaling, lecture and discussion, small group communication exercises and role-playing common clinical scenarios. Please come with willingness and curiosity as we explore together the richness of interpersonal dimension of manual healing. (Two or more years experience in practice is recommended but not required.)

Visceral Listening: Enhancing Motility of the Organs

Here's what so fun about working with the organs: they are equal parts fluid and fascia! If you are accustomed to working with light touch, the organs will echo what you feel in the fluid body; if you have tried light touch work and found it too difficult to perceive, the organs present an easier task of palpation. In this class we explore the abdominal and thoracic organs using a light touch that follows the body's inherent health. This subtle movement underpins the physiological activity of each organ. Learn to palpate, assess and treat each organ with clarity, while tracking the client's response to ensure that we don't overwhelm them. Structures we address include: respiratory diaphragm, liver, gall bladder, heart, small intestine, spleen, stomach, lung, large intestine, kidney and urinary bladder. We then address the coordinated activity among the organs -- for this, we use Five Element Theory from Traditional Chinese Medicine as a template. Learn a simple protocol of meridian points associated with each organ -- this protocol can be used to balance the system as a whole, or individual points can be applied at the same time as the manual methods to deepen the effect of a specific release. Five Element Theory also gives us a viewpoint to explore the relationship between organ activity and the emotional body. As we treat each organ, we'll also invite the body to 'digest' any unresolved emotional content -- simple active listening methods are used rather than in depth dialogue or coaching.

Visceral Mobilization: Freeing Fascial Interfaces among the Organs

The ability of the organs to glide freely around each other is vital, not only for the physiological task of each organ, but also for overall movement through the torso. Exploration of these fascial layers surrounding organs starts with a ‘topographical’ tour of the anatomy: where are the organs, what is their shape and how are they accessed? Refining our palpation of soft-tissue structures is highlighted as a part of both assessment and treatment. Includes consideration of scar tissue as a possible limitation of movement. Learn techniques to release  fascial restrictions in the following abdominal organs: liver, gall bladder, stomach, spleen, small and large intestines, bladder and kidneys. The lungs, bronchi and mediastinum are included. We'll work with the client in a variety of positions, to give us flexibility and versatility when approaching the organs. Manual treatment will focus on mobilization -- rather than motility -- using direct and indirect contact. We'll discuss how to gauge one's application of force to meet the restriction, so that we treat safely and effectively, without over-riding the body's limits. This is a good class for practitioners who focus on structural bodywork, deep tissue, sports massage and other biomechanical methods, and want to add this critical geography to your work. It's also a good class for those who have studied light-touch methods and want to clarify their palpation and widen their skillset. (For those interested in motility-oriented visceral work, we offer Visceral Listening.

I expect that my whole practice will evolve to include visceral and cranial work. My whole sense of the body is different now. I will work with less effort and greater effect! I really enjoy your teaching style and enthusiasm and the diverse ways you help to show the anatomy and treatments. I can easily see the anatomy in my mind. — LMT

"I loved the focus on HOW to access layers (peritoneum, omentum, intestines, etc.) under superficial fascia and when Lauren came around to help us feel and engage different layers. I also really liked Lauren’s approach to contraindications. I feel more empowered to really sit with what I feel in the body and go from there (to adjacent organ or zoom-out, zoom-in). This class helped me think more about how best to serve the whole system. Wahoo!" — Olga V

"I loved it all! It was important to learn how to engage the organs in a gentle and effective way to promote mobility. The combination of visual, verbal and kinesthetic brought the class together in a way that anchored the information to the body. With more practice, I feel that visceral mobilization could easily become a big component of my current practice." — Jen C

"I really enjoyed learning more about the anatomy of the organs and how we could work with them. I didn’t learn a lot about this in massage school and loved having this area of work opened up to me." — Jaren H

"Lauren, you are always so amazing at holding the space and making it feel open and safe — Thank you!" — Jen G

Supporting the Brain: Concussion, Migraine and Centralized Pain

Take a tour of the cranial nerves, identifying their connections central brain structures, passages through the cranial base and their pathway around the cranium and torso. You learn gentle balancing techniques -- both for neural motility as well as mobility of the cranial base and fascial movement along the length of the nerve. To gauge the need for this work, we'll review simple strategies to reveal the functionality of each nerve. Where applicable, we'll discuss common cranial nerve challenges such as Bell's Palsy, vertigo, tinnitus, Trigeminal neuralgia and various eye problems. (Consistent perception of cranial motility -- either CRI or mid-tide level -- is recommended.)

Cranial Nerve Mobilization — Freeing the Tethers

Securely nested within the cranium, the brain is a delicate structure of keen importance for health. The membranes and bones that protect the brain also become doorways for us to contact the brain through subtle perception and skilled touch. We review the anatomy of the brain, dural membranes and cranial base, which provides openings for the 12 cranial nerves. Learn foundational assessment and treatment methods for the cerebrum, cerebellum, central brain structures and the ventricles. Methods range from indirect enhancement of fluid movement, balancing autonomic function through motility (CRI and mid-tide), and direct mobilization of neurofascial tissue and bony passages. Focusing on osteopathic principles, we focus primarily on enhancing health -- particularly healthy sleep and breathing patterns, however we will consider certain conditions: concussion, migraine, vertigo and centralized pain. (Consistent perception of cranial motility (either CRI or mid-tide level) is recommended.)

Cranial and Fascial Methods for Newborns

"As the twig is bent, so grows the tree." Dr. AT Still, founder of osteopathy, used this image to highlight the relationship between structure and function. It's also an image that conveys the powerful opportunity in working with children. Learning to treat newborns may be the most fun you'll have! Infants are vital, mobile and tremendously present. Between the physical stresses of being born and their remarkable growth, this population has its own set of challenges -- you can offer much to help their bodies adjust and grow. We'll use a blend of craniosacral, visceral and fascial methods aimed at the relatively healthy child. This gentle approach aligns with the body's responses to achieve lasting change. This approach is not a protocol, but an ever-changing dance with each child. Because the child's system is so available, treatments tend to be brief and immediate, requiring the practitioner to stay alert and adaptive. Students will learn techniques that are appropriate for infants, which can also be applied for older children and adults. Students practice those techniques with each other and when possible with infant-volunteers under direct supervision. (Consistent perception of cranial motility (either CRI or mid-tide level) is recommended.)

"The demonstrations were really helpful. It was good to see Lauren’s approach and how to navigate and hold the container in such dynamic situations. It has given me the confidence to start practicing with little ones. I also learned some new techniques that will be helpful with my adult clients." — Elizabeth B

"To see Lauren working with babies, the sense of a session, the dance of responding to what arises and how many ways that can look — that was most important. I have been asked to work with babies often, and feel comfortable with my own area of understanding. This opening to the structure, the relationships in anatomy, is a new door for me that I'm happy to open! Thank you." — Robyn J

Unwinding the Birth Pattern -- for Infants and Adults

The process of being born is possibly one of the most vigorous events of our lifetime. It doesn't matter how you are born -- 'normal' positioning, with tilts or twists, breech, even cesarean -- our body is designed to adapt to and recover from the forces during labor. Even so, this process leaves an imprint: the birth pattern. This pattern remains in the fascial layers, especially the dura, and the still-forming cranial bones. Later in life we can see this pattern reassert itself after physical injury -- whiplash or concussion for example -- and in times of high stress. Unwinding, on a full body level, is a wonderful way to access and help balance this pattern. We will explore unwinding in an advanced way, beyond the basic 'following' that is the standard starting point of learning this technique. We will consider expansion, containment and biotensegrity dynamics from the practitioner's perspective, as well as active and passive engagement from the client's perspective (push/pull). Just as the baby plays an active role in getting born, the client can play an active role in resolving these whole-body strain patterns.

Freeing the Hard Frame: Myofascial Balancing for Craniosacral Therapy

Addressing the myfascial 'hard frame' is a natural complement to craniosacral work which focuses on the subtle movements and physiological activity in the fluid body. This hard frame -- the bone and myofascial architecture -- creates the container for the fluids and organs, so any asymmetry in the architecture creates a limitation, grand or small, on the subtler levels. In this class, we focus on the axial skeleton: pelvis, sacrum, spine, ribcage and head -- the craniosacral neighborhood. Our primary focus is assessment-driven myofascial work. We keep the loop between evaluation and treatment as short as possible, so that the practitioner remains well-oriented and therapeutic goals can be attained quickly. The work can address deep or superficial layers as needed and is easily integrated with either CRI or mid-tide levels of motility. The work is directional -- either indirect or direct -- depending on the interests of the client or practitioner; the amount of force used can also vary to be comfortable and specific to the restriction being addressed. We frequently use the skeleton as a 'handle' for the treatment and present strategies for decompressing synovial joints, which are a perfect complement to CST sutural work. At times we work with the client in standing, using the body as a long-lever to achieve change. This strategy allows us to combine the client's awareness and active engagement, and to use much less force than when the client is on the table. All the work is non-lubricated, so it can be done on skin, through a sheet or through clothes. Taken together, these strategies for working with the skeletal and myofascial architecture allow us to address deep restrictions in the system, freeing the client of the last echoes of previous injuries or usage patterns.