History of Craniosacral Therapy (CST)

Craniosacral Therapy (CST) was developed in the United States, by William Garner Sutherland (1873-1954).

Sutherland started his working life as an apprentice in a printing shop, and later he became a reporter, where he first heard of Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917), the father of osteopathy, and of the wonderful results he obtained in curing some of the physical pains people had.

So Sutherland decided to visit Still’s school of osteopathy, which he had founded in Kinsville (USA). Sutherland was so impressed with it that he decided to begin his training as an osteopath, eventually becoming his best disciple.

In those days, the cranium was considered a sort of rigid box, whose bones became ‘soldered’ when the person reached adulthood.

For many years, Sutherland studied the cranial bones exhaustively. His obsession was such that he had skulls in every corner of his house in order to compare them with one another. His house became an experimental laboratory. His wife called this “the cranial stage” of their marriage.

One day, he was observing a skull that had been dismantled and he noticed the bevelled edges of the articular surface that joins the sphenoid bone with the squama of the temporal bone, an image he related with a fish’s gills. This made him think of articular mobility.

He then made himself an experimental helmet, held with straps, and with it he started studying by experimenting on his own body. He would wear this helmet for days on end, changing the points of pressure and he began feeling pains he’d never had before: headaches, vision disorders, syncopes, etc. Then he developed the manipulation of the mobility of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which eased his troubles.

In 1939 he wrote The Cranial Bowl, where he explained his mechanistic vision; however, this book was not well received or understood by the osteopathic community at the time.

Nevertheless,  his investigations led him to develop cranial osteopathy, based on cranial micromovements, the study of the Membrane System, the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) and the relationship between pelvis-sacrum and cranium-sacrum.

During the last ten years of his life he developed and made publicly known the Breath of Life concept, a work system based on fluid movement and primary forces, known as Primary Respiration.