Craniosacral Therapy Training and Courses

There are famous names in craniosacral therapy just as there are in many other disciplines. Think Sigmund Freud for psychology or Carl Sagan for astronomy. Similarly, osteopaths William Garner Sutherland and John Upledge had an important impact on the field of craniosacral therapy (CST).

In fact, both of these men significantly contributed to the modality, which focuses on releasing the tension that resides in a person's craniosacral system which includes their cranium, spinal cord, sacrum (the bone above the tailbone), and cerebral fluid . "Like the pulse of the cardiovascular system, the craniosacral system has a rhythm that can be felt throughout the body," the International Alliance of Healthcare Educators reports on their website. "Using a touch generally no heavier than the weight of a nickel, skilled practitioners can monitor this rhythm at key body points to pinpoint the source of an obstruction or stress."

People wanting to seek instruction in this unique healing modality can usually complete their craniosacral therapy training and courses in about two to three years. They typically need to be licensed to practice manual therapy in their state and then can seek registration through the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association (BCTA) of North America or certification through the UpLedger Institute (UI).

Degree Programs in Craniosacral Therapy

While there are no degrees to be completed to enter the CST field, there are educational programs that you can enroll in to help you seek credentialing, although credentials are not required. Your choice of program can vary depending on whether you decide to seek registration through the BCTA to be able to use "RCST" after your name, or if you want to seek certification through the UI to use "CST-T" after your name. No matter what path you choose, your courses should educate you more about how anatomy and physiology tie in to craniosacral healing and how you can help patients to release bodily pain. Some of the classes you could take include:

  • Biodynamics of Health and Well-Being: Explore the biodynamic organizing principles of health and increase your understanding of craniosacral anatomy and biodynamic principles.
  • Central Nervous System Motility: Learn more the midline, neural axis and spine, and how venous sinus drainage can be used to reduce congestion.
  • Craniosacral Therapy I: Learn the principles that are foundational to CST, gain palpitation skills, and increase your skills in identifying and interpreting the craniosacral rhythm.
  • SomatoEmotional Release I: Learn about energy cysts, improve your whole-body listening skills and find out about the body's Avenue of Expression.

You will be required to take more classes than these, of course, but courses like these can help you to flesh out your CST understanding and also to make important connections with your classmates, teachers and mentors.


In general, there are two basic types of programs that can lead to credentialing, either as a RCST or CST-T. The specifics for these two credentials vary, but in many ways they provide the same sort of learning. Here's a closer look at the guidelines for these credentials:

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association: Training for the RCST credential includes 350 hours of classroom instruction, 150 hours with clients, 10 hours of received CST treatment, an independent project, and additional independent study.

UpLedger Institute: Two levels of CST-T credentialing are available through this institute, including Techniques and Diplomate. The first requires completion of two courses and passing three exams, including an essay, objective exam, and practical/oral exam. The more advanced of the two, the Diplomate, requires more advanced study, passing three exams, doing a preceptorship of 20 hours, and completing other components.

Of course, hands-on experiences will be explored in your classes as well, as you learn from one another. Just think of CST as a way to enable your clients to reboot their craniosacral systems and it becomes obvious why proper training can be so important.

Career Outlook for Craniosacral Therapists

CSTs are often employed as contract workers for spas or salons, or may work for themselves in private practice. In fact, some therapists may hold another job while building up their client base while others might practice a variety of modalities, such as Reiki or massage, just to have a full client base. No matter whom CSTs work for, they are tasked with creating a calming environment for their clients. This is to enable their clients to drop into such a serene state of being that the healing and release process can begin.

CSTs often charge between $45-$125 an hour, according to veteran Craniosacral Therapist Lisa Gillispie. However, she cautions therapists tempted to see 40 clients a week, noting that the intensive, hands-on nature of the modality requires therapists pace their client load.

While it is hard to say what the job demand is for the CST field, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job growth for massage therapists, a somewhat similar field, is expected to be 23 percent from 2012 to 2022. This job growth, considered to be much faster than average, comes as the Baby Boomer generation seeks massage to help maintain their health as they age. It is possible that this need is applicable to CST and other alternative healing modalities, as well.


  1. Available CST Courses, Upledger Institute International, http://www.upledger.com/content.asp?id=160&mid=3
  2. Craniosacral Therapy, Wellness Institute Energetic Studies, http://www.wellnessinstitute.net/web/craniosacral_therapy
  3. CST Certification, The UpLedger Institute, http://www.upledger.com/content.asp?id=174
  4. Frequently-Asked Questions about CranioSacral Therapy, International Alliance of Healthcare Educators, http://www.iahe.com/html/therapies/cst_faq.php
  5. History of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America, https://www.craniosacraltherapy.org/history-of-biodynamic-craniosacral-therapy
  6. Interview with a Craniosacral Therapist, Job Shadow, http://www.jobshadow.com/interview-with-a-craniosacral-therapist/
  7. Massage Therapists, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm#tab-6

Craniosacral Therapy Schools