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Is there really a difference between Biodynamic and Biomechanical Craniosacral Therapy?

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

By Kirsty Mackenzie RCST I remember when I first started training for Craniosacral Therapy, I had no idea there was more than one type of practice.


I chose to study the somatic practice because of the life-changing benefits it brought me. I was unaware of the spectrum of approaches and styles that each individual practitioner could bring.


I can understand that reading about CST and choosing a practitioner can be confusing, especially when there is this unexplained jargon which likely doesn’t mean too much to you.



So what is Biomechanical Craniosacral Therapy?



Both styles were founded in the Western Hemisphere by the same man, Dr William Sutherland. Originally an Osteopath, he founded the school of biomechanical craniosacral therapy first. William noticed that the bones of the cranium expressed subtle movement, then began his life long investigation into this previously unexplored phenomena.


This movement, William soon realised, was actually expressed throughout the body. The biomechanical practitioner listens to this rhythm, the 'Craniosacral Rhythm’, which is caused by the movement of cerebrospinal fluid travelling from the third ventricle in the brain to all around the central nervous system. By sensing the presence of this rhythm, using motion testing on bones and the application of other more physical techniques, it guides the practitioner to any tissue restrictions. Using intention, focus of awareness and gentle pressure the practitioner invites the body to shift towards a greater state of ease.





This style of CST is closer to osteopathy than the biodynamic model because it often involves working locally with bones and tissues. This means following a specific bone or tissue’s expression of the craniosacral rhythm, as well as using techniques to support the bone to release tension to unlock more potential for health within the body.



What is Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy?



In his later life, Dr William Sutherland, was called to a patient who was suffering in great pain, as he held the man’s system he felt a great stillness as he passed away, the ‘Breath of Life’. Following this experience, he urged his students to ‘use no force from without, let the unerring potency do the work’ trusting in the intelligence of the body to heal and moving away from techniques and motion testing.[1]


Considering that the biodynamics came later in William’s exploration of CST, it makes sense when some people say that the Biodynamic approach picks up where the biomechanical method leaves off. The focus instead of being more locally and with the Craniosacral rhythm shifts to the biodynamic forces and blueprint energy, that are much larger fields which are both within us and connecting us to everything and express a much slower and more vast rhythm, ‘the long tide’.


Being in relationship to this rhythm connects the body to greater forces of healing and in a session it's the practitioner's role to be present to whether the client's fluid body can breathe as a 3-dimensional being within the long tide. [2]





As Tanya Desfontaines writes, ‘When we hold the conditions of life within the wider context of the biodynamic field, within the context of health, the overwhelming resource of universal support becomes accessible and healing processes can unfold in a way that isn’t available when we narrow our field to focus only on the ‘problem’. [3]


At their core, however, both approaches orientate towards wholeness and the body’s inner wisdom and in reality the different names, techniques and styles dissolve away during a session. What is important though is the client and practitioner relationship and the practitioner's ability to listen and intuitively respond to what each person needs at each moment and support their journey to health.



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About the Author:


I trained at the College of Craniosacral Therapy which has an integrated approach, teaching both styles. My work, however, primarily sits in the biodynamic sphere of Craniosacral Therapy, if you are interested in exploring either approach with me please get in contact at mindandbodyfulness@gmail.com or on 07964837040.

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