How to manage transitions during a craniosacral session

You’re working on Sally’s sacrum and you know you need to spend time on her neck, after all that’s why she came to see you – she can’t turn her head all the way to the right* – when is it ok for you to leave the sacrum and move on?

*and yes, working on the sacrum can indeed help the neck, but Sally may need the reassurance
of you actually touching her neck to feel like she got what she came for.

In this video (scroll down to view) I talk about transitions and graceful exits and compare our work to a cocktail party (I know, I know, sacrilege!):

  • when is it ok to move your hands to another area
  • what to do when you only have 5 minutes left and the body is deep in its work and you really, really have to move on (or complete the session)
  • what happens when you move your hands prematurely
  • and a special treat! with lots of colors!

For those of you who aren’t video watchers, here are the highlights:

  • Imagine that you’re at a cocktail party catching up with your friend Beth – she shares, you respond, you share, she responds. There’s a lull in the conversation, that’s when you know you can make a graceful exit and go catch up with your friend Frank or you could stay and continue your conversation with Beth at a deeper level.
  • You would never turn your back on Beth and leave in the middle of her telling you about potty training her 3-year-old – that would be rude.
  • How does this apply to working on the body? Imagine that you’re working on Sally’s sacrum – you noticed during your assessment that there’s a restriction at L5/S1 as well as the left sacroiliac joint. You settle into your hand position and the body starts to shift. You notice softening, heat, lengthening – all those signs that let you know the body is working to make changes. If you left in the middle of that, it would be akin to you leaving your conversation with Beth right as she’s in the middle of her potty training story. You wait until things have settled down and a change has come to some sort of completion/resolution. Then you can make your graceful exit and move on to another area.
  • You could also stay and work with the next layer that the body is ready to shift. If L5/S1 got some nice changes and feels less compressed but the left SI is still a bit cranky, you might decide to hang out a bit longer to give the left SI time to do some work. It’s up to you and your evaluation of what needs to happen before the session comes to an end.
  • Here are a couple tips for making a graceful exit when you really must move on i.e. your client’s neck is begging for some help or it’s time to wrap up the session.

1. Tell the body non-verbally “Look, I’ve only got 5 more minutes here before I have to move on to another area (or finish the session). So that means you have 5 minutes to get the work done that you need to get done with my hands here.”

2. Tell your client verbally “Just wanted to give you a heads up and let you know that I’ve got 5 more minutes in this area before I need to move on/complete our session. Feel free to tune into the area where I’m working and support your body in doing what it needs to do while my hands are here.”

Lastly, I shared about the Hoberman Sphere. I’ve really enjoyed using it to help explain the movement that occurs in response to the inflow and outflow of the cerebrospinal fluid in the cranium. It’s a really nice tangible way for people to grasp this concept.

In the comments below, share with the group how *you* recognize when it’s ok to leave an area and move on. What signs to you feel for? How do you make a graceful exit when you’re running short on time? Your input will be oh-so-helpful to your fellow therapists – thank you!

Article by Lisa Gillispie, BSW, LMT, CST


2 responses to “How to manage transitions during a craniosacral session”

  1. Love your suggestion about non verbally letting the tissues know you are going to move on in a few min, or have to end the session. I’ve been doing that for years….its so cool to find this website and realize that I have been on the right track…thats why community so important!

    1. Lisa Gillispie Avatar
      Lisa Gillispie

      Glad you found it helpful Theresa! Yes, I agree, community is incredibly important 🙂

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