Desperate parents turn to craniosacral therapy to help newborns with colic, but now it is treating other problems such as stress, dementia and unresolved pain. MAXINE GORDON finds out more.

I’D been feeling under the weather, with general aches and pains and was just getting over a stomach virus that had laid me low.

So when I took to the couch and therapist Sylvia Schroer asked me to focus on a part of my body that felt “healthy”, it took me a moment to locate the optimum spot.

For patients unable to find a trouble-free area, Sylvia said imagining a relaxing scene, such a perfect blue sky or lying in the sun, worked just as well.

I am having my first session of craniosacral therapy, in a treatment room at Miller’s Yard, off Gillygate, in York. Sylvia is one of only three such therapists in North Yorkshire.

She has set up Re-Connect To Health, running clinics in York, Harrogate and Easingwold alongside fellow practitioner Paul Arif Hewitt.

You might have heard of craniosacral therapy before – it’s most well known use to date is for treating babies with colic.

But Sylvia and Paul are keen to spread the word that the therapy is useful in many different conditions.

“It can help anyone who is in pain or who has an illness that has not been resolved or has only been partially resolved by conventional methods,” begins Sylvia.

“It is also for people under stress, with mental or emotional issues.”

Common ailments suitable for treatment include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), frozen shoulder, whiplash injuries and lower back pain.

Intriguingly, craniosacral therapists have also been working with soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and people with dementia.

Regarding the work with soldiers, Sylvia says the first results are encouraging. “The soldiers and their families are reporting positive changes,” she says.

Sylvia believes craniosacral therapy works in this case by “melting” the “frozen trauma” inside the patient.

She says this method can be more effective than “talking” therapies that involve the patient reliving and reactivating the traumatic memories.

Equally encouraging, says Sylvia, are the results of work with dementia patients.

One study has shown that after a three-week course of craniosacral therapy, patients who were normally unable to tolerate touch, became relaxed and fell asleep and also showed reduced agitation.

It seems strange to call craniosacral therapy a treatment, because during my hour-long session, very little seemed to happen.

As I focused on my “healthy” place, Sylvia, quietly, patiently and gently, “held” different parts of my body.

The overall effect was deeply relaxing and I can see how it might be a useful tool in tackling stress.

Craniosacral therapy emerged from osteopathy. However, the therapist offers no manipulation of the body. The patient remains fully clothed.

“The practitioner follows the body’s own natural healing processes, recognising that the body is always trying to find a way to heal itself,” says Sylvia.

The therapy is rooted in a belief that “every living tissue of the body breathes with the movement of life”, says Sylvia.

It’s these subtle rhythms that craniosacral therapists are trained to “feel”. Optimum health, adds Sylvia, is when these movements flow unrestricted through the body.

The therapist’s role is to help the patient achieve this, using their finely tuned sense of touch.

“The craniosacral therapist has learned to develop and apply their sense of touch to feel tiny changes in the body,” says Sylvia.

“Finding a patient’s problem is a bit like sitting blindfold in front of a table, holding a tablecloth in your hands.

“If an object, let’s say a vase of flowers, is placed on the table, it is possible to tell where it has been placed by gently tugging on the cloth.

“In craniosacral therapy, the practitioner feels the ‘vase of flowers’ in the body.”

York project manager Siobhan Edwards has had a course of treatment with Sylvia to treat a painful hip.

She said she had tried massage, been to see her GP and a physiotherapist, but it was only after starting craniosacral therapy that the problem began to ease, although she points out she has been doing her physio exercises too.

Craniosacral therapy makes sense to her, she says. “It’s been great. It is very peaceful. It has reminded me to rest and look after myself. I feel it has helped.

“There is a feeling that things are releasing in a gentle way. The body is very clever; it functions very well most of the time. Craniosacral therapy is reminding it to do what it is good at.”

• For more information about the therapy and local clinics, phone Sylvia Schroer on 07779 799110 or Paul Arif Hewitt 07772 203309 or visit their website at

• Find out more about craniosacral therapy at