B1.06.0 – Direct – Indirect Technique

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We use two approaches
✬ Indirect technique
✬ Direct technique

It is through a combination of indirect and direct technique that restrictions can be assisted to release.


Indirect technique requires the skill of being able to follow the body to the point of restriction.

Following the Body is a skill that takes a lot of practice to get proficient at. Without getting too flowery about it, it’s a bit like singing along to a song. It requires you to keep in time and in tune so that your singing harmonises with the music. The combination of the music and your singing produces something more than the individual components.

If you put your body in a flotation tank it will generally start to move because when your body has a gravity free environment it begins to unravel.

Like a piece of cellophane that has been you crinkled up in your hands. When you let it go it begins to unravel.

Following the body means providing this gravity free environment in which the body begins to move. The skill comes in following the dance.

Indirect technique is a process of Unlatching.

You are at a door that is locked. There is a key in the lock but when you try to turn it the key is stuck. You lean your weight against the door, pushing it even further closed knowing this will give the barrel of the lock the space it needs to turn.
While pushing the door in, you try the key again and it turns freely.
You release the door and it springs open.

Indirect technique works in a similar way. It is one of the gems of the cranio sacral approach. It takes the view that substantial permanent release can be achieved by following the body into the pattern of restriction.

If one of my vertebrae has been displaced to the left by a trauma, a whole pattern will have been established around the vertebrae that will keep it displaced to the left.

No amount of pushing to the right is going to keep the vertebrae in line permanently. If that approach is taken the vertebrae will keep ‘popping out’ and will need to be ‘put back in’ with increasing regularity.

A permanent release and subsequent realignment can be achieved by following the vertebrae into the pattern of restriction, that is to the left. At the point of the trauma the restriction will release and the vertebrae will return to alignment naturally.

Indirect technique, going with the restriction pattern.


Direct technique is used when indirect technique fails to achieve a release. The restriction pattern has been felt and the therapist knows the structure needs to release in a certain direction. Direct technique is moving in that direction against the restriction.

Direct technique works because of another gem of the cranio sacral approach; a little pressure over a long period of time can move mountains.

You have just made a peanut butter sandwich. You suddenly decide you want to put jam in your sandwich too. If you pull the pieces of bread apart too quickly you will tear them. But if you apply a small amount of pressure and wait, the two pieces of bread will come apart in time.

You are in a lake. In front of you is a huge yacht. You have to move it 200m from one jetty to another. You run at the boat and push it with all your strength. (Not easy when you are waist deep in water holding a peanut butter sandwich.) The boat hardly moves. Luckily you are a trained cranio sacral therapist and you apply direct technique. You place your index finger against the boat, applying a small amount of pressure and you wait. In time you will see that this huge boat has moved and if you continue you will cover the 200m in no time.

Direct technique, going against the restriction pattern.

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9 responses to “B1.06.0 – Direct – Indirect Technique”

  1. These are incredible analogies for both techniques, thank you for the insight.

  2. joan fisher Avatar
    joan fisher

    thanks i struggled to understand what direct technique was? going against the restriction and indirect is going with the restriction, you explain it well i searched the net for answers this was one of my questions and i found this written concept easy to understand. thanks again

  3. Peter Avatar

    makes sense

  4. I have been a CST for two and a half years now. Explaning it to new clients is not always easy. Would you mind if I use these analogies? I will give you credit.

    1. Thank you for asking George. Feel free to use whatever you find useful.

  5. […] >> Next Lesson Lesson B1.6.0 – Indirect and Direct Technique. […]

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  7. Great analogies, but no matter how long I press my bread slices together, they won’t unlatch 😉

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