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The Compassionate Approach: Being Trauma-Informed in Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral Therapy, or CST, is rooted in the belief that the body holds its own inherent wisdom and capacity for self-healing. It acknowledges the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit, emphasizing the importance of deep listening and presence. This foundation aligns seamlessly with the principles of trauma-informed care, which prioritize safety, trust, and empowerment for individuals who have experienced trauma. Integrating these two approaches becomes particularly essential when working with vulnerable and marginalized populations.

Trauma, can take many forms. It can stem from experiences of violence, abuse, loss, natural disasters, leaving deep emotional and psychological scars. When working with diverse populations including refugees and migrants, economically disadvantaged families and individuals, homeless individuals, those dealing with mental health issues, and other vulnerable and marginalised groups, it becomes crucial to acknowledge and understand the potential trauma these individuals may have endured.

Vulnerable and marginalized communities often carry a heavier burden of trauma due to systemic inequalities, discrimination, violence, or economic hardship. It is crucial to recognize that trauma can manifest physically, emotionally, and spiritually, affecting the overall well-being of an individual. By embracing trauma-informed principles within CST, practitioners can create a safe and supportive space for clients to explore their experiences and begin the healing journey.

One of the central tenets of trauma-informed practice is the principle of "do no harm." In CST, this aligns with the emphasis on non-intrusiveness and the belief in the body's innate wisdom. By respecting the client's boundaries and allowing their body to guide the session, the practitioner ensures that the therapeutic process is empowering and not retraumatizing. This approach is particularly valuable for individuals who have experienced powerlessness and disempowerment in their lives.

Furthermore, trauma-informed CST recognizes the importance of establishing trust and safety within the therapeutic relationship. Vulnerable and marginalized clients may carry deep-seated mistrust due to past experiences of betrayal or neglect. Practitioners skilled in trauma-informed care understand the significance of building trust gradually, allowing clients to feel secure in the therapeutic space. Trust is the foundation upon which such a space is built, and trauma-informed practitioners prioritize its cultivation, recognizing that it's not a given but something that must be earned through consistency and empathy.

Trauma-informed practitioners are keenly aware of the coping mechanisms and somatic memory of traumatic experiences that individuals may have developed to deal with their pain and stress. These coping mechanisms can manifest as avoidance, hypervigilance, or emotional numbness. A trauma-informed approach means recognizing these behaviours and responding with patience and understanding rather than judgment. CST's gentle touch and deep listening enable clients to access these somatic imprints and release them, promoting physical and emotional release and healing.

In essence, being trauma-informed transforms the our role. Instead of seeing individuals as passive recipients of help, it acknowledges their resilience and strength. Survivors of trauma often possess a remarkable ability to endure and overcome, and trauma-informed practitioners work collaboratively with them, respecting their autonomy and capacity to heal. Moreover, the holistic nature of CST aligns with the idea that healing trauma goes beyond symptom management. It encourages clients to connect with their inner resources and resilience, fostering a sense of empowerment and self-efficacy. This is especially crucial for individuals who have been disempowered by societal structures.

In engaging in this field of practice, we of course need to always measure our own self care needs. The stories and experiences of the individuals we serve can affect us deeply, potentially leading to burnout and vicarious trauma. Being trauma-informed includes self-care strategies to ensure that practitioners can sustain their efforts and continue to provide effective support.

Ultimately, a trauma-informed approach enhances the efficacy of our efforts. It enables us to tailor support to the unique needs of individuals and communities, resulting in more meaningful and lasting outcomes. It embodies the values of empathy, respect, and dignity, creating a foundation for stronger and more compassionate communities.

The integration of trauma-informed principles within Craniosacral Therapy holds immense significance when working with vulnerable and marginalized communities and individuals. By honoring the principles of safety, trust, and empowerment, this approach creates a space for healing that is gentle, respectful, and transformative. It acknowledges the profound interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit and recognizes the body's inherent capacity for self-healing. I am inspired by the potential of trauma-informed CST to offer solace and resilience to those who have endured the deepest wounds of life's challenges.

My journey in service work has been a profound learning experience. It has shown me that being trauma-informed is not just a set of guidelines; it's a way of embodying the principles of compassion and empathy. It's a commitment to providing meaningful and effective support to individuals and communities who have experienced trauma. As I continue on this path of service, I am reminded that it is not only about the impact I can make but also about the transformative effect it has on me as a person, deepening my understanding of human resilience and the power of empathy.

Join our upcoming in-person training course (click link below for more information)

Unveiling Resilience: Uniting a Trauma-Informed Approach with Craniosacral Therapy for Vulnerable Clients Our comprehensive Trauma-Informed Care Training designed exclusively for Craniosacral Therapists committed to providing sensitive and effective support to vulnerable client groups. Taking place on November 11, 2023 at Pure Land Studio, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 2UD

About the Author

Lizette Villaverde RCST a seasoned expert in the field of trauma-informed work who is thoroughly experienced to teach intricacies of this essential aspect of therapy. With a decade of experience as a dedicated social worker, she has worked tirelessly with diverse client groups, particularly those who have endured severe social and economic hardships.

Lizette is a founder of Cranio in the Community and a senior tutor/course manager at the College of Craniosacral Therapy in London, Warsaw, and Bratislava. Her in-person work mainly takes place in London and she also offers remote sessions as one of the course leaders on the Distant Cranio-Sacral Integration Online Course. She can be reached at

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