Craniosacral Therapy and Healing Touch
I’ve been thinking about the effects of touch deprivation on mental health lately. Our innate sense of and need for touch has been neglected in the past few years. The psycho-social reality of touch, and its role, not only in close relationships but in a larger society, has taken a back seat recently. For example, putting your hand on a person’s shoulder when you speak to them or placing your hand on someone’s back; shaking hands to greet a perfect stranger; meeting even casual acquaintances with a hug or kiss. Even hesitating as you walk through the doors of a building just long enough to hold it for the next person risks physical contact. These are ubiquitous, small (in fact hardly noticeable) realities of the pre-pandemic world, things we hardly thought twice about. Even being in the same physical space as others, (at a show or a coffee shop, in line ups) breathing the same air, or touching objects that others have touched, have all come under fear and suspicion.
In this context, I have begun to wonder about the deeper and long-term effects of this level of contact avoidance, in a world where reaching out for a handshake is no longer considered a harmless gesture. But I also wonder about its inverse.
What is the healing nature of touch, both therapeutic and casual?
The scientific research on human touch is vast. An astonishing amount of evidence points to the innate human need for touch and the resulting poor health outcomes from its absence. The importance of touch for babies and children is popularly understood. The famous example of the Romanian orphanage in the early nineties is a case in point. Very young children were severely delayed, both cognitively and physically, as a result of touch deprivation. This was in the context of an under-resourced facility with too few adult staff. However, physical touch has profound benefits for people of all ages and stages. For example, touch calms the nervous system, reduces heart rate, soothes anxiety and depression, and even lowers cortisol levels and blood pressure. According to research, the effects of touch in social interactions increase the liking of a person, as well as promote prosocial behaviours such as generosity and compliance. A new drug this safe and effective would be considered a miracle product if it came onto the market today.
This is why touch-based modalities, such as massage and cranio-sacral therapy, are so vital. For example, massage has been shown to reduce both blood pressure and heart rate. It’s been suggested as an appropriate adjunct to help with the symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers.
When I practice Craniosacral therapy and acupuncture combined, I see first-hand these effects as patients relax and sink into a deep state of restorative rest. I see the treatment making a huge difference in folks suffering from anxiety, insomnia, depression, the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, as well as migraine, and other types of pain. Some of the most common things I see in the clinic with craniosacral therapy are anxiety, stress, and the symptoms of trauma.
If you have any questions about your own health picture, call and book your free 15-minute discovery call. I’m always available for a chat.