Often people email me asking the difference between craniosacral therapy, known as CST, and craniosacral fascial therapy, known as CFT and offered by Gillespie Approach.
By 1980, I was in love with craniosacral therapy. I learned from the master cranial osteopathic physician, Dr. Viola Frymann, and unbelievable things were happening to my dental patients.
But not everyone was responding until I found that the game-changer was the fascial web. I studied that piece with another master, John Barnes, P.T., in the mid-1980s. The following story illustrates a perfect clinical example of the difference between craniosacral therapy and Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy.
A patient in her 50s from the Upper Midwest is seeing me at the office. She has multiple pain areas with a lifetime of countless traumas. She is a vegan with a very clean lifestyle.
She has had CST back home three times a week for the last twenty years. She now presented with a locked-down zero-second brain cycle—no one was home, and the lights were out. CST can be a very effective therapy, but a tightly bound-down fascial web can quickly undo its benefits.
In my evaluation her pelvic fascia was straining hard. I held her legs, listened, and followed the strain pattern. When that layered released, I went back to check her brain motion. There was a very slight response, maybe a two-second cycle. Great, it was enough to tell me her pelvic fascia was pulling into her head and neck.
I listened/followed her legs again, and a new pelvic fascial pattern appeared and released. Her brain cycle now opened to six seconds. When I spread 90 minutes of pure pelvic CFT out over the day, her brain cycle ended at 170 seconds.
She felt her whole body had changed. She stood more grounded with better balance. She walked differently. She breathed better since her chest felt more open. Her head felt lighter. Many good things were happening.
The major point is that I never treated her head, neck, or even her upper body. Her pelvic fascial twists and strains were holding her entire craniosacral fascial system tightly. Her tight fascial web apparently negated any CST. In my view the entire craniosacral fascial system needed to be addressed for effective care.
I explained to her that the Gillespie Approach views every patient in the space-time continuum. The fascia exists in a full-body web that connects every structural cell in three-dimensional space. The fourth dimension of time retains a lifetime of fascial traumas back to conception.
Her body is holding her adult car accidents/falls, sports injuries from school, childhood falls, toddler accidents, and most importantly her birth trauma(s). One might say those injuries healed long ago or that trauma has long been forgotten. But in the craniosacral fascial world as John Barnes has told us, this system remembers it all. Each layer of the onion needs to be revisited and released emotionally and physically for authentic healing.
My role in CFT is to listen and let her craniosacral fascial system tell me what it wants to release next. I let the body “talk” to me and tell me its story. I am just clear and present to facilitate her healing. CFT is most effective at birth since the traumas are fresh and the newborn craves to stretch and release all that fetal tightness. If not addressed then, a lifetime of suffering can needlessly ensue.