Perspectives on the effects and mechanisms of craniosacral therapy: A qualitative study of users' views

Publication Type:
Journal Article
European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2015, 7 (2), pp. 172 - 183
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© 2014 Elsevier GmbH. Introduction: Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a 'body based' complementary or alternative medical practice which aims to support natural healing mechanisms. There is limited evidence regarding its effectiveness or mechanisms of action. Methods: Qualitative study based on constant comparative methods informed by grounded theory. Semi-structured interviews explored 29 participants' experiences with CST. Inductive thematic analysis resulted in themes, concepts and illustrative quotes. Results: Participants consulted for pain relief, emotional and psychological issues and help with rehabilitation. All but four participants reported improvement in at least two of the three dimensions of holistic wellbeing: body, mind and spirit, others in one. Experiences during CST included altered perceptual states and other specific sensations and emotions. The importance of the therapeutic relationship was emphasized. Theory emerging from this study regarding CST and the ways in which healing can be enabled holistically suggests that the establishment of a trusting therapeutic relationship enables CST to take clients into altered perceptual states; these in turn facilitate a new level of awareness regarding the interrelatedness of body, mind and spirit, together with an enhanced capacity to care for self and manage health problems. Conclusion: All participants in this study observed positive changes in their health status and most attributed these to CST; these changes were frequently accompanied by new levels of health awareness which enhanced participants' capacity to self-care. Interviewees were self-selected users of CST and the data are therefore subject to certain methodological biases.
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