Though there is a large amount of overlap between the two professions, they are not the same. Cranial osteopathy is a specialist area of osteopathy that concentrates on the minute movements of the cranial bones . These bones in the head are surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid that protects the brain, surrounding tissues and the spinal chord. In a healthy craniosacral system this fluid will pulsate at a rate of 6 – 15 times a minute. Practitioners are trained to monitor this rhythm in order to detect any imbalances, after which they manipulate the bones of the head and the face to improve circulation of the fluid.
Though craniosacral therapy was developed from cranial osteopathy and is based upon many of the same principles, the process focusses on the membranes that encase the brain and the spinal chord, believing that it is they who generate the cranial rhythm. Once the practitioner has located imbalances they will then use their hands to gently apply pressure to certain areas of the body in order to improve the fluid circulation.
Cranial osteopaths will have trained initially in osteopathy and will then follow up with a postgraduate training in cranial work. Craniosacral therapist’s study cranial work exclusively and will have trained in that specific area for around two years.