The work in this field began with the discoveries of an Osteopath, Dr. William Garner Sutherland. As an osteopathic student at the beginning of the twentieth century, the bones of the cranium fascinated him. While looking at a skull, he realized that it was, “bevelled like the gills of a fish for primary respiration.” This thought led him on a lifetime journey to discover its nature.

Dr. Sutherland undertook investigations that proved to him that the living skull expresses movement and motion and that this motion is physiologically important. Dr. Sutherland then focused on primary respiration (the breathing and movement of body tissues, as opposed to secondary breathing, also called lung breathing). He focused on the phases he termed inhalation and exhalation. He wrote about an approach where no force from outside is used, but the potency (life force) is trusted to initiate and carry out healing processes. Dr. Sutherland referred to this as the Intelligence of the System and the Intentions of the Breath of Life. Eventually Craniosacral Therapy came into its own as a healing modality, separate from Osteopathy.

Work outside of the osteopathic community was first taught by Dr. John Upledger, DO in the 1970’s. His work continues to be taught by the Upledger Institute internationally.

Dr. Franklyn Sills, DO developed a specialized lineage of Craniosacral Therapy, which he has named Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. This work explores tidal potency and the fluid tide, primary dynamics of the Breath of Life. In 1982, Dr. Franklyn and his wife and fellow practitioner, Maura Sills moved to England and created the Karuna Institute in Devon England. In 1986, Dr. Claire Dolby DO, a colleague, encouraged Dr. Sills to teach Craniosacral Therapy outside of the osteopathic profession.

By 1992 there was a shift in the approach to craniosacral courses, bringing in a clear Biodynamic approach to the work. This approach worked with The Breath of Life to allow the client’s system to heal following the priorities shown within the clients own body. Dr. Sills also introduced the work of Dr. Rollin Becker DO to the Craniosacral community, and helped people orient to what Becker called the Inherent Treatment Plan. It became clear that the practitioner was more of a facilitator, encouraging the right environment in which this could occur. This way of listening to the client’s system, allowing the client’s body to prioritize the healing process, was the point of difference from Biomechanical Craniosacral therapy, which tended to be more practitioner led with a series of protocols being followed. It was at this point the Dr Franklyn Sills coined the term Craniosacral Biodynamics.

Over this period of time, Franklyn and his colleagues taught Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy trainings in Europe, including Switzerland, Spain, Germany, America, and eventually worldwide. Dr. Sills, along with Dr. Michael Kern DO, also founded the Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust (CTET) in London, which is now an important biodynamic training and therapist registering organization.

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy continues to grow, with trainings, practices and practitioner organizations developing around the world. In Europe, the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association (BCSTA) is the main accrediting body. The Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust (CTET) covers the UK, while America has the International Affiliation of Biodynamic Trainings (IABT). The Pacific Association of Craniosacral Therapists (PACT) covers Asia and the South Pacific. These organizations encourage the development of  Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, ensuring professional standards of practitioners.


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