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Sara Devoy interviewed in the Echo

In a quieter place of being

Job title: Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist and Integrative Baby Therapist

Education background: BSc in Religious studies and Anthropology and MA in Visual Anthropology. Studying complementary therapies since 1991. Qualified Polarity Therapist, Biodynamic Craniosacral therapist specialising in Pre and Perinatal psychology for parents and children.
Hobbies: Swimming, theatre and walking.

Describe your job in five words: Soothing nervous systems — joy — vitality!

Describe yourself in five words: A tenacious heartfelt human-BEING!
Personality needed for this kind of work? Humour, flexibility, adaptability, kindness.

How long are you doing this job?
Formally, 2016… informally, since I was born!

How did you get this job? When I left school I travelled widely and had the good fortune to teach in Kenya for nine months. Of course, at 19 I learned way more than I taught. It was a humbling experience to observe the obstacles that students had to overcome to get to school. A few months in I started to wake up to the hypocrisy, school fees were sometimes waived for the girls in return for sex. On several occasions I had to help a girl who had ‘lost’ her baby. Here I began to see first-hand that what we ‘learn’ in life is only half the story. Being able to be calm in the most harrowing circumstances was essential.

I was entranced by Africa and wanted to find ways to deepen my experience of other cultures and beliefs. I studied world religions, philosophy and anthropolgy as my first degree which led me to work as a publicist for a specialist book publishers in London on Buddhism and Tibet. I enjoyed networking and selling translation rights at Frankfurt bookfair and regularly entertained authors and Buddhist teachers in our offices.

In my spare time, I became a founder member of what wras then Tibet Support group UK that had now become an international Organisation, Free Tibet. We campaigned to allow The Dalai Lama to have a political voice in the UK and eventually enabled him to speak in the
House of Commons about the Tibetan perspective. This was way back in 1988!

A lot of voluntary work, determination and knocking on doors got me some freelance radio journalism assignments and some exciting work in television research that involved travelling to USA. This spurred me on to do a masters in Visual Anthropology. I made my film for my thesis in Co Kerry.

Having completed my Masters, I took at a position as anthropologist for Body Shop International. I trained staff in Singapore, Malaysia and throughout the UK about the products and various cultures associated with the ingredients, for nine months. It was a brilliant experience and felt like a good cross-roads to follow my heart (literally) and come and live in Ireland in 1990. I commenced my first complementary health training in Polarity Therapy while based in Cork and set up my practice in 1992.1 offered stress-management programmes for VHI when stress was hardly a household word!

I enjoyed the freedom of working for myself and establishing a direct marketing business for Chinese health foods with my now husband John. I enjoyed my moments of fame on the Pat Kenny show and speaking to large audiences in Dublin and nationwide as a result.
Finally, becoming a mother for the first time wras a great triumph for me but learning to feed and take care of a wildly colicky baby was a steep learning curve for me — 22 years later, wrhen working with young families, I am deeply grateful for those experiences. So, looking back, I would encourage anyone to keep following their nose and trusting that eventually their choices will make sense!

As a young mother, I followed my husband’s career path for some years which evolved from the security of a position as a Biochemist in UCH to eventually establishing a successful organic farm in West Cork in 2002. Now’ with three young children, w-e worked harder than we w’ould ever admit to create our home and new farm. Our determination and passion was such that wre managed to co-found w hat is now Clonakilty Kindergarten. John and I poured ourselves into our vision for the farm and what wre wanted to create for our family.

After 15 years of working at markets and developing a wide customer base in restaurants, supermarkets and shops, I felt ready to deepen my therapy studies writh Craniosacral

I was ready to step away from the 365 of farming life to a quieter pace of being rather than doing!

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? Applications are open to all but those that establish a business usually have a range of life experience. Perhaps they have another therapy training as well. Anatomy and physiology exams are required. Patience and kindness are key.Describe a day at work: On clinic days I gather notes for clients, read them through and sit quietly before each appointment. It is important that I am as calm and unruffled as possible w’hen offering the work. If I have some personal stress in my life, it is important that I address it and seek additional supervision and personal therapy. Where possible, I aim to swim or get some time outside in nature in between or before wrork as I know that when I am invigorated, this supports my clients!

If someone was to look at me working, they would say that I am not ‘doing’ anything. I may gently hold a person’s feet, back or shoulder and certain points on their head where I can sense the cranial rhythm. I am not transmitting energy or making something happen, instead I am creative a supportive environment that w ill allow the person’s own innate potency to establish the best balance possible.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: It requires good self-reflection skills and the ability not to take people’s responses personally. Some of the material I hear is hard to be with. My work can become stressful if I get momentarily involved and try to ‘fix’ or problem solve. If I ‘think’ that I have to do something or get something ‘right’, I have lost the plot and the point of the wrork!

Best bits: Seeing the joyful light in a baby’s eyes when they feel felt and seen by their parents and feeling people’s bodies soften and untangle under my hands. I have also worked on a dying friend that was probably one of the most rewarding aspects of my career. Resting with her at the end of her life, trusting that nothing needed to be said and there was nothing to be done. Both of us deeply connected and at ease.

Worst bits: Knowing that some some clients won’t choose to come back and trusting that they will find alternative forms of support.
Advice to those who w-ant your job? Explore your own inner w’orld first. Face your demons and have plenty of craniosacral sessions before deciding to train. There are various schools with different approaches and strengths and it is important to find out the style that suits you.

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Sara joins the team at Stephen’s Wood Injury Clinic.

Sara has recently joined the team at Stephen’s Wood Injury Clinic. Carrigadrohid. Macroom. working alongside osteopath Neil O’ Grady, and owner of Stephen’s Wood Injury Clinic. Sara offers sessions for adults, children and babies.

For over thirty years Sara has been exploring how our earliest experiences and the way we are born impacts babies and adults alike.

“A Holistic Approach to Health and Wellbeing ”

A therapy for the times we are living in. What is Craniosacral therapy and how does it help? Most of us know what we could or should be doing for our health but many of us have been juggling a lot in recent times and may be feeling anxious, overwhelmed or exhausted. We battle away trying to get the formula right, generating even more stress! Craniosacral Therapy is a hands-on approach to wellness that developed from Osteopathy. Physical and emotional tensions unwind as our nervous system settles.

Muscular pain, headaches, sleep issues, shock, reproductive problems, ailments related to pregnancy, fatigue, stress, anxiety as well as colic and reflux in babies can all be helped. Treatments are used as a health maintenance programme or to benefit acute conditions. The body’s ability to heal itself is emphasised making it extremely non-invasive and safe. Ideal therefore for babies and during pregnancy.

Although it takes a series of sessions before your body can begin to feel the full benefits, clients speak of a ’sense of calm: a joyful stillness’ of a ’renewed sense of aliveness’.

Stuck areas get unstuck. In a typical session Sara gently holds the person’s head, lower back and feet as a way to let the nervous system relax. The emphasis is on optimising health.

Craniosacral Therapy for parents and babies

22 years ago like many parents. Sara paced the floor during sleepless nights in an attempt to settle her first-born. The birth was long, and feeding complications made it easy to fall into a cycle of self-blame.
Nowadays. Sara finds it a special privilege to offer sessions to pregnant mums and to new- born babies. She is grateful that her extensive training and personal experience asa mum of three, enables her to deeply empathise with both baby and parents.

Sara reminds us that:
’babies are way more conscious than previously believed. They remember their birth and want to express their feelings about it just like usl They tell their story through their gestures, body movements and cries. They are asking to be acknowledged, to be heard and understood. To be met as a full-hearted human being!”

In a gentle Craniosacral session, a baby or young child, often takes the chance to complete a part of their birth that was interrupted or rushed. However hard or easy the birth may have been. Sara maintains that it is never too late to slow down and listen to the baby’s story. It deepens the bond and helps everyone fully arrive as a family!

Babies love it when we:

  1. Slow down to match their pace
  2. When we get as much support as we can as parents
  3. Hold our babies skin to skin
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Pre-natal bonding

Numerous research projects, including the virtue baby initiative in India demonstrate that Prenatal Bonding is a two-way connection between mother and the baby before conception that has emotional and  physiological impacts.  Cells are forming 1.8 million connections each second and it is through these connections that the brain of the baby gets hardwired. The growing brain is shaped by whatever experiences and environment the brain is exposed to while developing in the uterus. While practicing Prenatal Bonding, the mother experiences a connection; causing her to release feel-good hormones that reduce anxiety or fear. Mother-baby bonding empowers the mother’s natural capabilities, resulting in greater confidence and safety during childbirth, reduction of preterm birth and Birth trauma . Mother and baby, together as a team, experience less pain and anxiety . Obstetrical interventions go down significantly, resulting in fewer complications, better normal delivery and breastfeeding rates. 

Pre natal bonding takes a few minutes each day and can involve singing, journaling, art, cooking , talking. Listening and finding other ways to creatively acknowledge your little one. 

Dr William Emerson who I studied with for many years makes clear that the sensory interaction of mum and baby produces health-giving hormones and enzymes that promote homeostasis.

i) lower level of adrenaline/higher oxytocin

ii)stable blood pressure

iii) lower heart rate

iv) greater output of growth hormone

v( increased myelination??  Important during pregnancy for brain development

vi)reduced pituitary and adrenal and sym adrenal responses ( Bovard)

Vi stimulation of anabolic processes

Reduces catecholamines levels in labour

Decrease stress response to labour

Shorter labour

Pain decrease..c section decreased

Decreased post partum

Little crying 

GET in touch to book a free call to see how I can help.

I have PDF for parents

PDF on pre natal bonding 

PDF on something else they can sign for

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Preconception – fertility support-prenatal bonding

 Birthing babies – Birthing parents. 

 Whether conceiving a baby naturally or with assistance; craniosacral sessions offers insightful  and invaluable support.  It  is essential to  calm the  nervous system  to  optimise your health  to conceive and nurture your baby. 

In a series of sessions couples explore the path to conception with compassion and openness. Clearing the path for a positive pregnancy  takes many forms and the experience of both partners is relevant. There may have been previous pregnancies, miscarriages or  a challenging  labour. Grief or even aspects of  the couple’s  upbringing and birth  can be factors.  Online or in person  sessions for  aspiring and pregnant couples, deepen their connection and understanding.  Parents are born too!

Call for more information 

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Birth Recovery – Birth Trauma for Mum and Partner

If you are recovering from a challenging labour I offer various approaches including a ‘Three Step Rewind’ technique that is highly effective when feelings about the birth are lingering and hard to come to terms with weeks and months after birth.  This approach can be used for both mother and partner. 

If you would like to find out if TSR three step rewind is right for you call me to book a short 20 minute call. ( Please note that this is a chance to meet each other and ask questions about the approach rather than an actual session!)

Contact Me

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Birth recovery for parents and babies

 How  we are first welcomed, has  a huge impact on our self-esteem, capacity to learn and build relationships.  Birth interventions, even though necessary and life saving at times, interrupt and  speed up the baby’s innate birth rhythm.  Pain relief, induction,  forceps, vacuum or  a c-section, can all leave a baby with feelings of wanting to complete parts of their birth. The ‘golden hour’ after birth may have been rushed or unavoidable separation may have occurred.  Even the most natural of labours can have its  challenging  moments for the baby or the mother.

Although it is never too late to do restorative work, having some sessions  early in life is such a wonderful gift.  Craniosacral  mother and baby sessions are ideal in the early weeks and at various milestones.  Clingy or challenging behaviour at many stages of childhood can often be traced back to this  formative phase. Craniosacral sessions  are joyful for all concerned; a chance to acknowledge what  has happened and  to deepen your bond.

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CRANIOSACRAL parents and babies sessions

Pregnancy is a joyful time to positively influence the development of our little ones. Pre and post-natal Craniosacral sessions are soothing for you and your baby and will help to deepen your bond. Becoming a parent is a major  life event and takes many of us time to adjust. If your labour wasnt exactly as you had dreamed, this patient heart-felt approach helps families to  acknowledge and heal.  Parents bring their babies for help with crying, behavioural issues, restlessness, colic, neck tension, sleep or simply for a check-up after birth.

Craniosacral therapy and Integrated baby therapy, (IBT)  is blended in sessions.  IBT acknowledges babies as sensitive and aware beings who need to express and integrate some of their earliest experiences from their birth and life in utero.  The field of Pre and Perinatal psychology help parents make sense of their child’s  behaviour and body language. Babies and children  tell their stories in many ways,  as well as offering gentle craniosacral work,  I observe and mirror gestures, cries and behaviour during specific play. IBT work is particularly helpful for mobile and older children who don’t necessarily want to stay on a table! 

Children instinctively like to show the impact of their pre and perinatal experience and given the right environment find their own resolutions. Babies  and children of all ages are included in the conversation and working with the family as a unit is ideal.  Adoptees and their families benefit from this heartfelt approach as well.

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INTRODUCTORY Craniosacral SESSION ( Adults)

Available in person or online

Perhaps you have physical symptoms that you want to address;  a tight neck or a sore shoulder?  Or difficulties with sleep, anxiety or feelings of overwhelm.   As our minds and bodies are so connected Craniosacral body work offers an experience of safety, stillness and calm that recalibrates the  nervous system over time. Your intention for the session is vital. 

( An advantage of online work is that you can choose to rest for longer after I have left the zoom call.)

*   Within 48 hours of an INTRODUCTORY Craniosacral  SESSION,  a 20 minute phone call is offered to reflect on your experience and to look at how you might like to continue to work together.   For the  low waged I am willing to discuss concessions. Deciding to have a series of session and then review can be the most helpful approach. 

Stillness is vital to the world of the soul…

The fragments of your life will have time to unify, and the places where your soul-shelter is wounded or broken will have time to knit and heal.  You will be able to return to yourself.  In this stillness, you will engage your soul.”   John O’Donohue     

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Craniosacral therapy explained.

Although many people have heard of Craniosacral Therapy there does seem to be some mystery and confusion about what it is or whom it can benefit. ‘ I thought it was only for babies ‘, or ‘I didn’t know it helped with stress, energy levels and anxiety’, how can something so simple help with injuries and physical conditions?’ These are common reactions!

Craniosacral bodywork gentle supports our nervous system to achieve balance. When we settle back into our bodies a wide range of conditions will soften and resolve, Clients choose craniosacral sessions for a variety of physical and emotional conditions including back pain, sciatica, headaches/migraine, stress and fatigue, sleep problems, digestive problems and behavioural issues in children. Anxiety and depression can also be greatly supported. Developed from osteopathic techniques, CST uses trained touch to perceive and respond to the subtle tidal motions of ‘primary respiration’ in the body. The biodynamic model emphasizes the body’s inherent ability to heal itself given the correct conditions and does not advocate the use of any external force, making it extremely safe, gentle and non-invasive, ideal for babies or during pregnancy.

Recovering from trauma and shock with Craniosacral Therapy.

In a session, you may notice heat, tingling, pulsation or other sensations as your body settles into a deep stillness. In a typical session, the therapist would gently hold the person head, lower back and feet as a way to let the nervous system unwind. The emphasis is always on finding health.

“To find health should be the object of the physician. Anyone can find disease.”
   Dr Andrew T. Sill

Case Study

On her first session, Jane was in shock her mind was spinning with unwanted and repetitive thoughts. Her neck and lower back were tight. Jane blamed herself for being distracted and unable to settle after a car crash. She felt numb and disconnected and began to fear that she would never recover. After a few sessions, it was as though her body slowly came back to life. Her breathing deepened and as her body softened her sleep improved and new possibilities came to the fore. Simple cranial work supported her whole nervous system to calm and regulate once again.

Read more about benefits

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The History of Craniosacral Therapy

In the early 1900s, Osteopath William Garner Sutherland, DO (1873-1954) discovered that the body expresses itself in a series of subtle tide-like rhythms, expressed in our fluids, bones, organs and tissues..  This breath-like movement, called Primary Respiration, precedes the respiration of the lungs that starts at birth.  Together it amounts to a potency known as ‘The Breath of Life’.  In other traditions, this  life force is called ‘Chi’, ‘Ki’ or ‘Prana’. Sutherland wrote, “  within the cerebrospinal fluid there is an invisible element that I refer to as  the Breath of Life….. is it really necessary to know what makes the fluid move? Visualize a potency, an intelligent potency, that is more intelligent than your own human mentality.” 

These early Osteopaths recognized that when this ‘Life Force’ has full  expression, many conditions improve.   In a session the practitioner listens to the expansion and contraction of these rhythmic tides.  It is a manifestation of a primary intelligence that is expressed in nature as well.

At times of stress, protective patterns of tension arise around the initial distress impacting us on a physical, emotional and physiological level. We hold our history in contracted tissues and overactive minds.  With this work, we become more present to ourselves, bringing acceptance and compassion.