Massage Therapists Take Center Stage at Beyond the Dura 2005

By John Upledger , DO, OMM

Massage Therapists Take Center Stage at Beyond the Dura 2005

By John Upledger , DO, OMM

Anyone who has followed my career knows how I feel about massage therapists practicing CranioSacral Therapy (CST). The ability to evaluate and address dysfunctions of the craniosacral system require proprioceptive sensitivity, a willingness to work hands-on with a client for up to 90 minutes, and a strong sense of the artistic qualities of body function. All this combined makes massage therapists better trained and more prepared than some physicians to apply such sensitive skills, which is why I'm always happy to put massage therapists center stage at our biennial Beyond the Dura (BTD) research conference, sponsored by the Upledger Foundation.

Every two years, we gather a list of leaders in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to explore new therapeutic trends, applications and insights. Following are some of the massage therapy experts and the topics they'll present at BTD 2005 on April 27-May 1 in Jupiter Beach, Fla.

"Cellular Joy" with Melanie Hayden, LMT

Many massage therapists deal with clients who have unconsciously stored traumatic memories in their bodies that later manifest as serious physical conditions. "Understanding the body's inherent ability to store memories allows us to explore the possibility of bringing consciousness to the process," says Melanie. "Then we can work at a cellular level to store positive, loving, blissful memories of the joyful moments in our lives."

Melanie's interactive presentation will encourage therapists to recognize moments in which they can fill their cells with joy. Then they can discover creative ways to tap into this joy to manifest physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

Leaving the high-tech corporate world behind, Melanie became a licensed and certified massage therapist more than eight years ago. She currently practices in an integrative health care clinic in Calgary, Alberta, and serves as president of the Association of Massage Therapists and Wholistic Practitioners, a national Canadian association CAM practitioners.

"Welcome to This World: An Overview of the Benefits of CranioSacral Therapy Applied to Childbirth" with Carol McLellan, CMT, CST-D

Carol will join Dr. Jonathan Cayle for the keynote presentation on the value of incorporating CST into the childbirth process. "It allows newborns to do what they came to do and become who they came to be without being restricted by events in utero or during the peripartum period," Carol says. She and Jonathan will relate stories of patients whose labors and deliveries they have facilitated with CST. They'll also include data demonstrating the effects of their program and their vision for the future of childbirth.

Carol has a 20-year background in health education and bodywork. She is a certified Upledger Institute (UI) CST instructor, a professional doula (labor coach), and instructor for prenatal classes. She owns and directs a wellness center in Visalia, Calif., and co-developed a UI CranioSacral Applications to Obstetrics workshop.

"Developing a Strong Therapeutic Presence in All Areas of Your Life" with Suzanne Scurlock-Durana, CMT, CST-D

How do we as therapists practice contacting and trusting our "deeper knowing" in our daily lives? That's the topic Suzanne will explore at BTD. "We may have felt that resonance after a particularly powerful therapeutic session or course. But we really need to understand the underlying principles in order to maintain this connected state of grace as life continues with its joys and stresses."

Suzanne's presentation will focus on the skills of being grounded and connecting deeply with the resources that surround us and support us every day. "Therapists are often stuck in 'giving' mode but locked out of 'receiving' mode. That's why these skills are so vital to facilitating the healing process in others. The truth is, the facilitation process itself can become a source of deep nurturing when we're fully connected and grounded." Suzanne will explore the practical and foundational "how to" of holding a healing space for another.

Suzanne has instructed and mentored on the subject of conscious awareness and the healing process for more than 20 years. She developed the UI Healing From the Core curriculum after years of helping fellow practitioners hold healing spaces for themselves and others.

"Why Is It We Don't Think Anymore?" with Tim Hutton, PhD, LMP, CST-D

To many, science is the only appropriate yardstick by which to judge the validity and effectiveness of medical approaches. Unfortunately, relying on scientific evidence has almost come to replace reason as a way of understanding the world. "But what if you don't have much background in science?" asks Tim. "You're forced to rely on the pronouncements of 'experts' when making decisions about your own health." What really constitutes scientific evidence for the validity of medical treatments? Is science the best foundation to use as a basis for medicine? What role should reasoning take in science, medicine and society? These are a few questions Tim will explore at BTD.

Now in private practice in Bellingham, Wash., Tim holds a PhD in physics from Rice University and briefly spent time in a research role at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A CST practitioner since 1994, he is certified at the Diplomate level and serves as an examiner for the UI certification program. He is also a UI-certified CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release instructor.

"CranioSacral Dissection: New Discoveries and Validations" with Roy Desjarlais, LMT, CST-D

After taking my first CranioSacral Dissection workshop in 1999, Roy became fascinated with the potential for making firsthand craniosacral system discoveries and receiving immediate validation when working with un-embalmed human tissue. Now after teaching nearly a dozen dissection classes himself, his fascination continues to grow.

"The discoveries we make [in the dissection class] are as unique as the way in which the cadavers lived their lives," Roy says. "The students experience hand positions and feel releases from both external and internal body tissues." This three-dimensional process leads to immediate validations - those "aha" moments that only come with hands-on understanding. At the BTD presentation he'll make along with Don Ash, PT, CST-D, Roy will share some of the more significant images and experiences he's encountered in his ongoing exploration of the human condition and how our bodies can hold onto restrictions and compensations even into death.

Roy is a certified UI instructor and staff clinician at UI HealthPlex Clinical Services in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. He serves as UI's CST-I Program Director, conducts teacher-training tutorials in the US and Europe, and is a certified examiner for the CST certification program.

The massage therapists introduced here will join 14 other presenters and panelists from professions ranging from cardiology to chiropractic at Beyond the Dura 2005. For more information call 1-800-233-5880 (ask for priority code R64) or visit