Becoming a Craniosacral Therapist

It's not a healthcare treatment that most people are familiar with, but craniosacral therapy is an alternative hands-on approach to healing that allows tensions residing deep within the body to be released, according to the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America (BCTA). Craniosacral therapists focus on helping the body's nervous system to alleviate some of the tightness it holds on the craniosacral system, which includes the cranium, spine, sacrum and cerebral fluid. This might include healing from headaches, anxiety or low-back pain.

Program Requirements/Prerequisites

Entering the field of CST can take around two years or more. The first step is finding a program to complete. The Wellness Institute, in Brooklyn, New York, for example, is one of many schools offering CST training, and that follows the certification guidelines set up through the BCTA. Classes that you might take as part of a craniosacral program include:

  • Cranial Base Patterns and Whole Body Dynamic
  • Birth Dynamics in Craniosacral Therapy
  • Nerve Facilitation

Of course, that is only a partial list of what you need to learn to see how anatomy and physiology tie into craniosacral healing. After you complete a program, you will need to take other steps or have completed the following steps to become certified through the BCTA. These include:

  • 350 hours of classroom instruction
  • 150 hours of client sessions performed outside of the classroom
  • 10 hours of sessions received from a registered craniosacral therapist (the BCTA recommends receiving these from at least three different therapists)
  • An independent project or research paper that takes at least 40 hours to complete
  • 150 hours of independent study

Students must then submit an application with all of their information and a fee to the BCTA and await board approval. Once approval is granted, a craniosacral therapist may be allowed to use "RCST", standing for registered craniosacral therapist, after their name. However, registration does need to be renewed annually and continuing education requirements are necessary.

A craniosacral therapist can also become certified through the UpLedger Institute, which has been providing healthcare education since 1985, that has its own set of CST education requirements. By taking the courses specified by the UpLedger Institute and passing a certifying exam, practitioners may then be allowed to use CST-T, indicating certification, after their name.

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Before completing CST training, many craniosacral therapists already have a therapeutic background in fields like massage, osteopathy, physical therapy, reflexology or physiotherapy. While this can provide a helpful knowledge base, it is not necessary to entering the field. If you are interested in becoming a CST, you might already:

  • Be intrigued by whole-body healing
  • Have undergone CST healing yourself
  • Have taken an introductory workshop or workshops
  • Have an innate ability to connect with people
  • Be able to move your hands slowly over a person's body
  • Have an intuitive inclination
  • Be interested in working in a calm, quieting setting

Work Environment for Craniosacral Therapists

CSTs often run their own practices and may combine CST treatment alongside any other modalities they specialize in, such as midwifery, massage, Reiki or energy work. CSTs set up their work in a environment that is relaxing, and will need to have a room or rooms with massage tables. Crasniosacral therapists can build their own client base, but may want to have hours available during evenings and weekends, in addition to the day, to better accommodate clients' needs. Most treatments they provide will take about an hour to complete.


  1. "Crasniosacral Therapy", Wellness Institute, http://www.wellnessinstitute.net/web/craniosacral_therapy
  2. "Certification Programs", The UpLedger Institute, http://www.upledger.com/content.asp?id=173
  3. "Registered Craniosacral Therapist", Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America, https://www.craniosacraltherapy.org/RCST.htm
  4. "What is BCST?" Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America, https://www.craniosacraltherapy.org/what-is-bcst
  5. "What is Craniosacral Therapy?", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIY4hhFnJPI
  6. "What Qualifications Do I Need to Practice CranioSacral Therapy?", Carina Collins: Craniosacral Therapy, What Qualifications do I Need to Practice CranioSacral Therapy?

Craniosacral Therapy Schools

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