Craniosacral therapy for anxiety

In an uncertain post-lockdown world, many are suffering from the effects of social isolation, lack of touch, high anxiety and depression. Our nervous systems are in desperate need of support. 


Craniosacral therapy, a gentle hands-on modality, can provide this support and prevent our bodies from being permanently stuck in a stressful “fight or flight” state. 

There is much scientific evidence to prove that anxiety is somewhat contagious, so when one member of a family is suffering, it can adversely affect others. But in order to help others, we need to make sure we are helping ourselves.

Saying goodbye to anxiety

Depression and anxiety are clinically characterised by a loss of interest in activities, a change in appetite, fatigue, sadness, insomnia, excessive sleeping, and low self-esteem, amongst other symptoms, that may or may not have been diagnosed by your doctor. And like other issues, they have varying degrees of intensity and impact on our day-to-day lives. At worst they are completely debilitating, impairing our ability to function, work, take care of ourselves, and at best we learn to somehow muddle through life and live with them.  

Depression and anxiety are endemic globally and have multiple roots and causes from functional to emotional, to both.

The nervous system

We are our nervous system.

Our nervous system is our body’s command centre. It sends messages back and forth from the brain to the body, telling us what to do. If it is malfunctioning, it can have countless negative effects on how our body is regulated. Everything from our thoughts, hormones, movements, digestion, breathing, and processing threats, is controlled by our nervous system. It follows that if we are continually in an anxious state when we are not in immediate danger, it is not functioning as it should. 

In a healthy body, the sympathetic “fight or flight” and parasympathetic “rest and digest” states are working in harmony. But in an age where we are overriding our body’s innate intelligence - rushing through our meals, eating on the go, taking more stimulants like coffee and alcohol, rushing through tasks, our days, to get to the next one, and then the next, to when we can have a break - our sympathetic nervous system is overstimulated. We are stressed and easily triggered.

It is like the breeze setting off a car alarm. 

Once upon a time, this served as a life-preservation function. If we were being chased by a wild animal, this mechanism helped keep us safe by shutting down our digestion, increasing our heart rate and increasing the rate of adrenaline pumping through us, but it was only meant to be short-term. The parasympathetic nervous system, our “rest and digest” is currently being overridden. Living like this long-term can lead to disease - our bodies are not being given time and space to rest and repair.

Craniosacral therapy stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, enabling deep relaxation of the body and for this re-balancing and repair to begin. 

What exactly is craniosacral therapy?

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a light, hands-on body treatment, done fully clothed. It was developed by Dr John Upledger, an Osteopath. It works on the premise that the body has an innate healing mechanism - if provided the correct support and stimulus, it can heal itself. The craniosacral system consists of the bones of the head, the triangular bone - sacrum, at the base of your spine, the membranes that encase the brain, and the spinal cord and cerebrospinal fluid that protects, nourishes and bathes the tissues of the brain and the spinal cord. The movement of this fluid creates a rhythm in the body which can be felt by the practitioner, along with any restrictions in the flow. 

The cranial bones, membranes and fascia (a continuous membrane that covers everything from organs to nerve fibres in our body) can become restricted through injury or from emotional holding, bad posture, traumatic experiences, accidents, shock, grief, for example, and this can impinge the cerebrospinal fluid flowing up and down the spinal column. This can cause many unwanted symptoms. 

By making gentle contact at certain parts of the body the practitioner is able to feel these points of restriction, or where energy is being held, and facilitate their release. 

Craniosacral therapists believe our bodies are like flight recorders, they hold all our memories and experiences, from when we were conceived to the present day. And this includes the thoughts, feelings and experiences of our mothers when we were in utero. These memories may be difficult and often sit in our system awaiting a voice, acknowledgement or release. Hence CST sessions can be accompanied by a flood of emotion. There may be a deep sense of peace and joy either immediately or in the days following treatment. 

Clients often feel they are floating on a cloud, or not quite asleep but not awake. This is where deep healing occurs. 

In enabling the release of tensions and restrictions, it enables the body to re-balance thereby putting us in touch with the parts of ourselves that we may have inadvertently lost temporary access to. 

Craniosacral therapy 101

  • Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, hands-on modality that helps the body to rebalance.
  • It works on the nervous system, with your own body intelligence, stimulating your “rest and digest” state, where deep relaxation and repair can occur.
  • Gently releases the tensions and restrictions in the craniosacral system increasing blood flow, and enabling better cerebrospinal fluid flow so fresh nutrients can be taken to parts of the brain, and old matter drained away.
  • Can support you with a variety of conditions from anxiety, grief, and migraine, to physical injuries.
  • Multiple treatments are recommended depending on the condition to receive long-term beneficial effects.

You can learn more about craniosacral therapy and connect with a therapist on the Therapy Directory. Simply browse profiles until you find someone you resonate with and send them an email.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Therapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, NW3 7AX
Written by Raj Lehl, BSc (Hons) LCHE RSHom RCST
London, NW3 7AX

Raj Lehl is a Trustee Board Member of the Craniosacral Therapy Association, the UK’s leading accrediting body for Craniosacral Therapy and a registered Craniosacral Therapist, Homeopath and academic tutor. To book a session with Raj, email

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