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Andrew in Wayland Wood. image Copyright Andrew Cook 2020

My first experience of the effect of dissociation on the body was at the very start of my CST career, when a young man came in for treatment with a broken leg that had been in plaster for 6 months, was not healing, and was very painful. I somehow understood early on in the session that he was terrified of his leg - partly because it was his first hint of mortality, and partly just because of the continuous pain. So he had dissociated from the leg. I spent most of the hours treatment getting him into a more compassionate relationship with the leg, and also helping him to be aware of the leg (instead of just being aware of the pain). And what happened? Next week he came back and the leg had started to heal. This was a huge lesson for me. And since then I have had many other experiences of (sometimes quite spectacular) healing taking place once people become more fully embodied.

I started practicing Craniosacral Therapy (CST )in 1994, having already been involved in various complementary therapies (including Reflexology) for about 10 years. After about 10 years practicing CST I began to realise that most people coming through the door with physical pain and other very physical problems actually had a problem with embodiment - or more accurately, dissociation and dis-embodiment. At the time there happened to be a conference on Dissociation in my home city of Norwich, run by the ESTD, and from there I took part in a foundation training in trauma treatment with the SensoriMotor Psychotherapy Institute (SPI).

Dissociation can occur from many different causes, but the most common is some form of trauma or PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). And trauma treatment is usually considered to be on the domain of the mind and therefore of psychotherapy. But actually trauma has been recognised for some time to be mainly a physiological issue far more than a mental one - the mental symptoms tending to be secondary aggravations. So since then I have focussed on integrating the principles of best state-of-the-art trauma psychotherapy into my bodywork practice, often to treat physical pain. Much of the material I present here is based on that process of integration, and has become a major part of my Craniosacral Therapy practice.

It's relevant to say that I personally suffered from dissociation for many years, that seriously affected both my work and personal life; and that personal experience has proved very useful in helping others. I have also had over 30 years experience of application of many different forms of healing, and all of that experience has gone into the pot. The CST has provided a very useful and solid framework, both to make sense of it all and to give some necessary structure and focus. I have personally used all of the material presented here and gained benefit from it myself.

I do not wish to fall into the "best thing since sliced bread" trap and suggest that absolutely everyone will benefit from the material presented here. However, what seems to have come out of it is something that I think of as a "User Manual for the Body-Mind", which is relevant to everyone. Whether the particular form of presentation suits you or not makes the difference as to how useful it is on your particular case.

I have also been writing a book on Dissociation (as seen from a bodywork perspective) for the past five years, and it was something of a coincidence that the worldwide Covid-19 epidemic hit just as all of this material was ready to present to a wider audience.

A selection of training & postgraduate courses completed include :
  • Sep 21 (24 hrs): Formative Embodiment with Dr James Feil module #3
  • Jun 21 (24 hrs): Formative Embodiment with Dr James Feil Module #2
  • Apr 21 (10 hrs): Formative embodiment & the art of storytelling (Formative Embodiment module #1) with Dr James Feil
  • Jul 20 (1.5 hrs): Listening To The Small Voice Within - Craniosacral Therapy Research Findings (Nicola Brough)
  • Jul 20 (1 hrs): Dr Arielle Schwartz - Enhance your resilience during transformational times (Zoom)
  • Jun 20 (1 hrs): Interview with Mary Jayne Rust on her new Ecopsychotherapy book
  • May 20 (4 hrs): Feldenkreis session with David Zemnach-Bersin: Movements of the Jaw & Tongue to Reduce Anxiety
  • Apr 20 (1.5 hrs): Jaap van der Waal - What the Embry has to say about togetherness (Zoom)
  • Aug 19 (1 hrs): Secret life of Fascia lecture
  • Jun 19 (4.5 hrs): Gut feeling : the microbiome gut-brain axis with Viola Sampson
  • May 18 (13 hrs): Midline in Everything : CTET/Michael Kern
  • Mar 17 (12 hrs): ESTD Training Conference | 30-31 March 2017 in Norwich
  • Trauma workshop UEA Mar 2017
  • Gut Feeling: the microbiome-gut-brain axis (Viola Sampson) Jun 2019
  • Midline in Everything (CTET/Michael Kern) May 2018
  • Speech of the Embryo (Jaap van der Wal) May 2016
  • A bellyful of Health (Katherine Ukleja / CTET) May 2011
  • Cadaver prosection : Brain & Spinal cord (Dr David Parry) Mar 2015
  • Fluid Systems. fulcra in transition (Averille Morgan) Oct 2013
  • New directions in SensoriMotor Psychotherapy (Pat Ogden) Apr 2012
  • Miserable baby : Treating feeding & digestive disorders in babies (Miranda Clayton) Apr 2012
  • Infant Movement Development (IIBMT / Linda Hartley) Jul 2011
  • Somatic Psychology : the embodiment of spirit (IIBMT / Linda Hartley) Jul 2011
  • Trauma (CTET / Thomas Attlee) Nov 2008
  • Speech of the Embryo (Jaap van der Wal) Mar 2007
  • Treatment of Trauma : foundation course (SensoriMotor Psychotherapy Institute) Jul 2006 - May 2007
  • Trauma workshop UEA Feb 2006
  • Stillness & Form (CTET) Dec 2005
  • Non-Violent Communication Foundation training Nov 2005
  • Spark in the Motor (CTET) Dec 2004
  • Chinese hand diagnosis Sep 2004
  • Karuna Craniosacral Biodynamics 15-20 Jul 2001
  • Upledger Advanced-1 Mar 2001
  • CST Practitioner Certificate (CCST) Oct 1996 - July 1997
  • Therapeutic Massage (IEB) 1996-7
  • Upledger SER-2 Nov 1996
  • Upledger SER-1 Jun 1996
  • City & Guilds Adult Education Teacher's Certificate (April 1996)
  • Advanced Reflexology (Tony Porter) Jan 1996
  • Upledger CST-2 Apr 1995
  • Upledger CST-1 Oct 1994
  • Reflexology (Bayly School) April 1989
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