History & Philosophy of Osteopathy

Osteopathy began over 100 years ago in the USA with the work of Dr Andrew Taylor Still. He believed that in order to maintain health a balance was necessary between mind, body and spirit. He advocated that the structure and function within the body were interlinked, governing the potential for health.

He emphasised the study of anatomy and physiology, applying palpatory skills to correct the imbalances in the body.

John Martin Littlejohn, initially a patient of Still’s, then a teacher at The American School of Osteopathy emphasised the role of the physiological processes in maintaining health. Despite becoming Dean of The American School of Osteopathy he eventually left to found his own educational establishment in Chicago with its strong leanings to the physiological processes involved in the generation of disease.

Dr William G Sutherland was a student of Stills, he developed the concept of cranial osteopathy. He studied the cranium and believed the sutures had the potential for movement. Moreover he felt that this movement had profound effects on the health of the body. In particular Sutherland believed that if a baby started life with a strain pattern in its skull then this would follow through and be expressed throughout the whole body. As the child grew this distortion remained and grew with the child affecting the structures and their function as a result.

As time has gone on the thought processes that inform the application of treatment have changed. Other scientific disciplines have their influence on the practice of osteopathy adding to its success and safety. Statutory regulation of the profession has enhanced its reputation, all osteopaths who work in the UK are required to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GosC).

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