Elective Classes

...take as a stand-alone class, or as a step toward certification

Each 3-day class allows students to deepen their understanding of osteopathic methods while individualizing their studies to suit their own interests. All students are eligible to take Elective Classes as soon as they have taken a Craniosacral Introductory Workshop. Certification candidates must take 4 of the 8 courses, at their own pace and timing: before, during or after the Core Series.

Tending the Therapeutic Relationship: Trauma, Resilience and Honoring the Other

Understanding the complexity of the therapeutic relationship is critical for any integrative or holistic practice. In this 3-day class, we explore key aspects of these interpersonal dynamics: power differential, types of intimacy, boundary navigation, transference/countertransference, and informed consent. We highlight clarifying and communicating our intention, policies and boundaries as well as identifying methods of self-care.

We examine the autonomic nervous system, particularly the Polyvagal Theory of stress/distress, trauma generation, resilience and health. 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. Coming from an osteopathic framework, we realize that our skills fundamentally assist the client's inner healing capacity and that our role in this is as a well-informed guide or a midwife.

This workshop is taught using journaling, lecture and discussion, small group communication exercises and role-playing common scenarios. Please come with willingness and curiosity as together we explore the rich interpersonal dimension of manual healing. (Two or more years experience in practice is recommended but not required.)

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It's the gift of a true teacher to be able to hold the container of structure, content, timing and space for questions. Lauren is a gifted teacher and allowed for an organic flow within the class structure. --Jen C

Visceral Listening: Enhancing Motility of the Organs

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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 3-day 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 through the fluid body, using the cranial wave or mid-tide. Additionally, we draw from Traditional Chinese Medicine as a viewpoint to explore the possible relationship between organ activity and the emotions. As we treat each organ, we invite the body to 'digest' any unresolved content -- simple active listening methods are used rather than in depth dialogue or coaching.

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

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.

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.

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

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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

Supporting the Brain: Concussion, Centralized Pain and Selected Pathologies

brain of hands

Craniosacral therapy is such important and ongoing work. I am both humbled and thrilled to be on the journey of continuing to explore it. I am sending so much gratitude for how thoughtfully you opened the world of craniosacral therapy to me. -- Aimée N

The workshop exceeded my expectations. I loved the instructor's depth of knowledge and her ability to share it. -- J.H.

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 (cranial wave and mid-tide), and direct mobilization of neurofascial tissue, bony passages and the 'end organs' where nerves attach. Each of these locations creates a doorway for change.

Following osteopathic principles, we focus primarily on enhancing health--particularly healthy sleep and breathing patterns. However we will consider certain conditions: concussion, centralized pain, and others selected by the group. (This may include vertigo, tinnitus, migraine, autoimmune conditions, post-COVID syndrome, etc.) Clarifying our understanding of these conditions and their underlying drivers helps us navigate the clinical decision-making process. We come to sessions with our clients more informed, while remaining open to the inherent treatment plan of each individual as the body finds its way to health.

To support your learning and the well-being of participants, consistent and confident perception of cranial motility (either cranial wave or mid-tide level) is required.

 

Cranial Nerve Mobilization — Freeing the Tethers

Take a tour of the cranial nerves! Identify their connections central brain structures, passages through the cranial base and their pathway around the cranium and torso. These nerves provide us with rich and complex sensory information about our outer and inner worlds. Helping the nerves find balance can be a key step in supporting a well-regulated autonomic nervous system.

You learn gentle techniques to balance the mobility of the cranial base, the length of the nerve and its fascia, as well as the 'end organ' destination of each nerve. Freeing the nerve's environment is a complement to directly balancing any directional pull along the length of the nerve. Where applicable, we discuss common cranial nerve challenges such as Bell's Palsy, vertigo, tinnitus, and trigeminal neuralgia.

To gauge the need for this work, we'll review simple strategies to reveal the functionality of each nerve. Simple physical tasks, sensory 'riddles' and paired exercises help highlight the function of each nerve. Together we'll create our best mnemonic ladder for remembering all 12 nerves and their functions!

Being able to free the cranial nerves is a wonderful complement to a fluid-based craniosacral practice, as well as a structurally-oriented myofascial practice. The nerves bridge between central and peripheral realms in the body as well as between receptive and active neural function.

Thank you for another amazing weekend! I was able to put some of this to work yesterday with my client. Thank you for the tools that allowed me to go to a deeper level with her. I always learn so much from you on so many levels! -- Rebecca C

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Cranial and Fascial Balancing for Newborns

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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

"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. While students learn techniques that orient to infants, they 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 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

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. In the first few days of life, the body recovers much of its pliability and form, through the forces of breathing, crying, yawning and suckling. For some, the fascial shears or compressions require a bit of help to integrate with renewed mobility. 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 the birth pattern. We explore unwinding in an advanced way, beyond the basic 'following' that is the usual starting point of learning this technique. We 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.

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

To say that your class had a profound effect on me would be an understatement. I wasn't able to be very vulnerable or expressive, but I am forever grateful that you are. I think I will be processing for a while. I just wanted to thank you from the depths. -- Eve W

Freeing the Hard Frame: Myofascial Balancing for Craniosacral Therapy

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So wonderful to find teachers who share their expertise and one at the same time full of compassion and humbleness. Thank you, Lauren and Richard. My whole system feels sparked and ready to work in new ways. -- Dorit G

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 cranial wave 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 craniosacral 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 dense restrictions in the system, freeing the client of the last echoes of previous injuries or usage patterns.

I like that both teachers have a breadth of knowledge that they are drawing from to teach. I liked the palpatory protocol; it was a different way from assessing the body than what I've done. It added more information that will be valuable when I'm treating. -- H.S.

You two are an incredible team that really brings out each other's strengths. I am grateful to have had the experience and opportunity to learn from you. -- Student

Fine Print for Certification Students

Certification students are required to take a minimum of 4 Elective classes. 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.

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 (if the change is made at least 30 days prior to the class’ start). Changes made nearer to the class date will be charged a $100 late fee (paid to the Therapeutic Training Center).  Additional Elective Class registration changes are subject to a $100 fee regardless of advance notice. If a student enrolls in the Certification Program after having taken one or more Elective Classes, their tuition will be adjusted accordingly.