Craniosacral Therapist Certification

An alternative healing modality, craniosacral therapy makes use of delicate touch on the body to help balance its craniosacral system, which includes the cranium, spinal cord, sacrum and cerebral fluid. Practitioners often are already licensed in massage therapy or a similar method before pursuing craniosacral therapy (CST). They may decide to pursue this modality, or method, to help bring more specific practices or targeted healing to their clients.

CST involves the practice of light touch, often described as light as a nickel, over a patient's body. And just as in massage, a patient rests on top of a massage table, but is fully clothed, and the treatment begins. CST can help provide relief from a number of illnesses, although success, as with any treatment, is never guaranteed. Some of these illnesses may include:

  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Scoliosis

Of course, there are numerous institutions offering training in craniosacral therapy, including the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association (BCTA) of North America and the UpLedger Institute (UI), which offers registration or craniosacral therapy certification, respectively.

Be aware that, in addition to completing a CST program, you will also need to be licensed in your state to practice manual therapy. The qualifications for this vary, but typically, chiropractors, massage therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and even some doctors, dentists, and nurses are already qualified for this type of licensing. Students of CST can find out more by contacting their state's massage board of licensing or a similar board.

Educational Requirements for Craniosacral Therapists

Although there are no academic programs, per se, that need to be completed to pursue craniosacral work, there are hands-on programs that are needed to seek certification or registration in the field. Two of the well-known ones include registration through the BCTA and certification through the UpLedger Institute. Let's take a closer look at each.

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association: To be able to use the title RCST (registered craniosacral therapist) after your name, you need to complete a number of steps, most of which are already incorporated in programs that follow the BCTA guidelines, to qualify as "registered". These include:

  • 350 hours of classroom instruction
  • 150 hours of client sessions that are performed outside of class
  • 10 hours of sessions received from a registered craniosacral therapist or therapists
  • An independent project or research paper taking at least 40 hours
  • 150 hours of independent study

A student would then submit their proof of program completion, a letter of recommendation, and application materials to the BCTA board in order to seek RCST approval. Once given, however, re-application and specific ongoing requirements, including continuing education, are needed every year.

The UpLedger Institute: Two levels of certification are actually available through the UI, including those of Techniques and Diplomate. However, testing at either level includes three exams: open book, objective, and oral, the last is administered by a certified examiner. Level one certification simply requires completion of UI CranioSacral Therapy 1 and 2, as well as passing all of the exams. However, Level 2 is more difficult, requiring all the following:

  • Completing Advanced CranioSacral Therapy 1
  • Passing all Techniques-level requirements
  • Passing the Diplomate-level essay exam, objective exam, and practical/oral exam
  • A 20-hour minimum preceptorship
  • Five case-history write-ups
  • Six hours of CranioSacral Therapy presentation to an organized group or publication of a CST-related article

Like with BCTA registration, continuing education is required to maintain UI certification, known as CST-T. However, this is only 24 hours every four years and can be done in the form of classes, mentorships, or presentations.

Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy Certification

Of course, anyone who has taken a few courses or even completed a program in CST can practice the modality, but that does not mean they will be able to use the RCST or CST-T credentialing. That is only available to those who have completed the necessary requirements through the BCTA or UI.

Although certification is not required, it can be an indication of competence. As noted on the Oasis Center for Craniosacral Therapy, operating out of Wilmington, N.C., certification [through the UI, in this case] "is a procedure that assures a high level of study and competence in the work." So aside from being able to set yourself apart by having a credential after your name, it can also indicate to your clients, if you go into private practice, that you have completed a training program. If you choose to work for someone else, like as a contractor at a salon or spa, it may also be helpful in obtaining employment.


Certification Programs, The UpLedger Institute. http://www.upledger.com/content.asp?id=173

CST Certification, The UpLedger Institute. http://www.upledger.com/content.asp?id=174

FAQs About Craniosacral Therapy, Oasis Center for Craniosacral Therapy, http://oasiscst.com/resources/?resource_id=10

Registered Craniosacral Therapist, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America. https://www.craniosacraltherapy.org/RCST.htm

What is BCST?Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America. https://www.craniosacraltherapy.org/what-is-bcst

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