If you’ve known me or the business for awhile, you’ll know craniosacral therapy has been an integral part of my professional and personal growth for over 20 years. Whilst I’ll always be proud of my physiotherapy background, craniosacral – both in terms of receiving it and providing it, gives me greater joy, better outcomes and is the most gentle, powerful and empowering modality I have ever come across.
Whilst I do write and talk a lot (me, talk a lot, I know, how unusual!!) about the benefits of craniosacral therapy and the types of conditions, ailments and things we often treat, I’d like to share with you a little about my own journey and why it has become so fundamental in how I treat clients and myself.
Over 24 years ago, whilst I was working for a busy, private physio company, I began experiencing severe, debilitating headaches. At that time, there was a physio working at the practice who only treated clients with craniosacral therapy. I had nothing to lose so I booked myself in and arrived with a combination of intrigue, scepticism and trust (she was a physio so that helped!).
I can only describe that first treatment as utterly bizarre. I felt like she was hardly touching me yet my headache lifted and I felt like my whole body was spinning and lifting off the treatment couch! The logical part of my brain thought it was woo woo and weird but my body absolutely loved it! I was curious enough to find out more so off I trotted on CST1 – a four day introductory course to learn the basics, the mechanics and a ‘protocol’. This course opened my eyes to anatomy, physiology and the craniosacral rhythm that I never knew existed. There was nothing woo woo at all and actually a lot of indepth neuroanatomy and research – new learning awakened. I have to say though, that on day 3 of the course – it changed me. At the end of day 3 we did a really simple ‘energy’ exercise working in groups of 2 – I was sitting and was the ‘patient’ and the ‘therapist’ put their hands gently on my shoulders. My body and neck began to slowly move side to side. It was odd, it felt a little freaky and when I was back in my hotel room I felt disconcerted. I decided on a bath to relax. Whilst I was in the bath I experienced a ‘reliving’ of a car accident I had been in years earlier (where I was hit side on at high speed by a police car) – it was like I was watching a video in slow motion. It was emotional and felt very real. That night I slept really well but fed back to the group about my bizarre experience. I was reassured to hear what I had experienced was a perfect example of ’tissue memory’ – the movements in class were exactly what my body had gone through during the crash – as the tissues released, along came the emotional part – somatoemotional release (a big part and special to Upledger craniosacral therapy).
And the rest, as they say, is history. I returned from that first four day course and began to integrate it into my practice. My clients loved it, they improved but found other things going on in their lives improved typically too. They may have presented with pain but found they were sleeping better, energy levels improved, just a general sense of well being returned – as an example. I practiced and followed the framework of Upledger (so I treated 75 clients before doing CST 2), and over a period of years, I completed the ‘core’ courses of Craniosacral Therapy 1 and 2, Somatoemotional Release 1 and 2 and Advanced. Alongside, I completed the paediatric training, visual imagery and dialogue, the brain speaks, chronic depletion and more! The last few years has seen craniosacral reach more people and become a treatment clients now actively seek out. My client base has changed over the years too. Initially I would treat clients with pain, chronic pain, unresolved pain or pain which had not responded to the more ‘traditional’ methods of treatment. As a physio, this was my comfort zone, familiar territory if you will. But as my experience and knowledge base grew, so my diversity and range of clients grew too.
My diary is now full of adults with anxiety, PTSD, depression, pain and fertility challenges, babies with feeding issues, colic and reflux, children with headaches, digestive challenges and behavioural issues. One of the things I love about Upledger craniosacral therapy is our ability to meet each and every client right where they are – no judgement, no expectation, no assumptions – we trust each client’s inner wisdom – the body always leads the way and directs each and every treatment – from babies to the older adult. It is about empowering each client to trust their body, reconnect and discover a new knowing. In this work, we are better clinicians because we’ve done the work ourselves – we’ve been on the table, we’ve been there, we’ve processed, unravelled and rebuilt. I discovered so much about myself, my body and my mind, I learnt how old and past experiences have been held deeply within, framing the adult I am now. But it’s never too late to start, to heal, to grow, to progress. I will be forever grateful, both personally and professionally that all those years ago – I had a headache!
Many years ago, I resisted exams and ‘proving’ to others what craniosacral was – I convinced myself that it would not affect my clinical practice or my clients – in 2015 I changed my mind and began the slow process of my techniques exams which I passed in November 2021. This was an extremely worthwhile process and has reinforced my love for learning, sharing and putting the work of Upledger ‘out there’. I have assisted on many courses and have been privileged to work within two intensive therapy programmes (an offshoot from Upledger UK, running intensive, multi hand work typically treating clients with PTSD from the military, police or other) – working alongside and with other like minded practitioners is both validating, inspiring and extraordinarily rewarding – we give our time freely in these programmes and I will be joining others In Brighton again this November. I am currently working towards my diplomate exams and am studying towards teaching the 2 day course ‘Introduction to Craniosacral Therapy’ – there is already a list of lovely people keen to attend which is a fabulous start!! Would you like to know more?
I also launched the North East study group this year – open for clinicians already using the work of Upledger craniosacral – a place for us to get together and share experiences, a safe space to learn, practice and grow. The feedback has been wonderful so far and the next few dates are in the diary!
Thank you for being part of my journey – your part is significant, believe me. If you’re a client and already discovered the beauty of craniosacral, thank you for trusting the process. If you’re an observer or sitting on the periphery, thank you for watching – you will know if and when the time is right – trust your body, not your head. If you are a Tayloredfit client in many of our other classes or services, thank you for choosing us, we appreciate you. If you’re a friend, family member or if you know you’re in my corner, I see you and I lift you right back up as you do for me. And if you’re part of my Upledger ‘family’, the place we all feel like home, thank you for ‘holding space’, giving me room to breathe, grow and show the world who I truly am.
Where will the next chapter take me, the business, our team and craniosacral in the North East and beyond. Are you coming with us too?
If you’d like to know more about craniosacral and if it’s for you, check out our website information here or book an appointment with Vicky, Mark or Janet. We’ve got you.
Vicky Smith, founder of Tayloredfit Physio, MCSP, BSc Hons, CST-T
P.s photo credit and thanks to Caroline Barrow, Upledger UK for capturing these moments.