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I specialize in, and have many years experience with CranioSacral, Zero Balancing and Visceral Manipulation modalities. When you come to me, I bring all the wisdom and experience I have accumulated over 40 years to each session I have with you. I integrate these modalities as well as others called for that are unique to each individual client's needs.
  • Skull to demonstrate Judith Sullivan's CranioSacral bodywork.
    Skull used to illustrate CranioSacral Therapy.
  • Judith Sullivan uses Visceral Manipulation in her bodywork.
    Internal organs illustration
  • Judith Sullivan illustrates how CranioSacral Therapy can help the spine.
    Spine illustration to demonstrate CranioSacral Therapy
  • Judith Sullivan uses a cross section of a head to demonstrate the benefits of CranioSacral Therapy
    Head cross section illustration
  • Judith Sullivan uses a lung illustration to demonstrate benefits of CranioSaacral Therapy and Visceral Manipulation.
    Illustration of lungs.
    • About CranioSacral Therapy

      I began my study of CranioSacral Therapy in 1984 with Dr. Upledger. In 1986 I began teaching for the Upledger Institute which I continued until 1999. CranioSacral Therapy has influenced me deeply both in my practice and in my teaching. I have learned how the skills of CranioSacral Therapy can enhance the body’s natural healing processes and be effective for a wide range of health problems including: Colic, Attention Deficit Disorder, Nursing Difficulties, Learning Disorders, Emotional Difficulties, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Hormone Disorders, Head and other Traumatic Injuries, and Irritable Child Syndrome.

      The CranioSacral System is a physiological system that exists in humans as well as those animals possessing a brain and spinal cord. Its formation begins in the womb; its function continues until death. The CranioSacral system derives its name from the bones involved. Included are the bones of your skull, face and mouth which make up the “cranium” and extend down the spinal cord to the “sacrum.” It is connected by membranes enclosing a hydraulic system. An imbalance in the CranioSacral System can adversely affect the development and function of the brain and spinal cord which can result in sensory, motor and intellectual dysfunction. The positive effect of CranioSacral Therapy relies to a large extent upon the patient’s natural self-corrective physiological activities. The therapist’s light, hands-on approach assists the hydraulic forces inherent within the CranioSacral System to improve the body’s internal environment.

    • About Zero Balancing

      In 1983 I began studying Zero Balancing with Fritz Smith. I was impressed with my clients responses and improvements. So were they. Everything in a ZB session is designed to promote maximum relaxation and a sense of well-being. The process is distinguished by a form of touch known as interface. Gentle and noninvasive, it’s pleasant for both the ZB practitioner to give and the client to receive. Some people describe experiencing “expanded awareness,” others “tension melting away,” and still others say it is like “feeling balanced to zero.”

      Zero Balancing is designed to align your physical structure with your energy body. Simple yet powerful, it focuses on your whole person, even when addressing specific needs. ZB moves beyond Western scientific approaches to body structure by incorporating Eastern concepts of energy and healing. This enables a practitioner to work simultaneously with your structural and energy bodies to bring balance. Another way to say this, is that Zero Balancing works with both bones and movement to find imbalances and create balance. Here I think we need to define energy. Energy is movement. We can feel gross movement— an arm moving, or subtle movement— our breath, the pulse, and even finer movements within the body as our awareness becomes more subtle. I am speaking mainly of these subtle movements. You experience subtle movement when your “hair stands up on end,” or if you feel a change in your body due to emotion such as a wave of love, or anger. You feel the “wave.” That is a type of energy.

      Zero Balancing is for anyone with stress in their lives, or for anyone who wants to feel better. In my practice, Zero Balancing is the core work I do to connect both the physical and energetic. By using Zero Balancing principles, I fold in any other work that is appropriate. I may do CranioSacral Therapy, Visceral Manipulation, Bone Massage, Acupressure Points or a combination of the aforementioned. Using Zero Balancing principles with these other modalities, simplifies and streamlines these techniques and the session.

    • About Visceral Manipulation

      All of the great classics have stated that between 90-95% of all illness enters through the mouth. (This would mean that we eat things that are not particularly good for us--even if they might be good for other people). Though I think that there are different factors these days, such as environmental stress, I believe that the organs hold large amount of the stress in our lives.

      By gentle movements and pressure, we can release this tension in our organs. Since all of the organs have their roots at the back of the body, or on other organs, by gentle release of these tensions, other symptoms, such as back pain can be reduced or eliminated. Many people are surprised to find out how much tension their organs hold, and how much the pain in their backs has been reduced from working with the organs.

    How I can help the following issues integrating CranioSacral Therapy, Zero Balancing and Visceral Manipulation.


    • ADD/ADHD in Children and Adults

      ADD/ADHD can result from either birth trauma or injury. There is usually a restriction between the occipital bone and the temporal bones. By releasing trauma between the bones, and then within the membranes of the head, you can restore normal cognitive functioning to a greater degree.

    • Asthma

      Asthma is a complex issue. In combination with allopathic care, zero balancing and craniosacral therapy can reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.

    • Attachment Disorder

      I have seen several foster and adoptive children who have been clinically diagnosed with attachment disorder. With a combination of zero balancing and craniosacral therapy they’ve responded with more normal relationships.

    • Back Pain

      Lower and upper back pain lumbar back pain sciatica pain sacral or sacroiliac pain.

      What causes back pain?
      Many problems that cause back pain do not actually come from the back, but from the organs. Tension in the organs causes tension throughout the system and typically causes pain in the muscles of the back.
      Back problems can come from lifting incorrectly. People are getting good about bending their knees, but if you bend your knees and twist, and you have a heavy load in your outstretched hands, it puts strain on your disks. The lumbar vertebrae have limited rotation possibilities, and twisting with a heavy load rotates them too much. Therefore, the disks are strained and put pressure on the nerve roots, causing back pain.
      If you have taken a bad fall, this can also cause back pain, even if the fall was years ago! A fall on the coccyx, or tailbone, can be especially problematic down the road. Bones can hold old energy patterns. By releasing these patterns, you allow energy to move again and alleviate pain. If it is a recent injury, I can usually resolve it in a session or two. But it can be more complicated if there are layers of trauma from a very old injury, or several injuries to the same area. In this case, I will work with gentle pressure on the bones and nerve roots, and assign homework. Keeping up with the homework will speed up the process.
      Sciatic pain sometimes comes from a spastic muscle which creates lower back pain that is similar to sciatica pain. It can be helped through pressure to the specific muscle, and developing awareness of how you are holding your body.

      Treatment for Back Pain
      With gentle, noninvasive pressure aimed at the bones or the roots of the organs, I can help your body release tension from these places, which then releases the tension from the back and relieves back pain. Many kinds of back pain or spinal pain can be treated easily, without drugs, in 2-4 treatments at my office in Charlottesville, Virginia.
      Welcome. My name is Judith Sullivan, I have a bodywork practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. Please look around, you will find information that could be of help. If you have questions that have not been answered, please contact me! Use the Schedule Now button to easily schedule an appointment online.

      “In scientific terms, ZB balances the autonomic nervous system, stimulating parasympathetic mechanisms, counteracting the “flight, fight, or freeze” stimulus so that a homeostasis within all systems can be re-established. This renewed homeostasis allows for greater healing on all levels—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. From ZB Principles, edited by David Laden.

    • Children

      In the olden days, in medical school you were taught to immediately saddle up the horse to get to the child quickly if you heard they were sick because otherwise they’d be well by the time you got there. Children have an amazing ability to recover and restore. However, childhood comes with its own predicaments. There are falls and bangs and crashes. There are falls off swings and jungle gyms, out of trees and beds, broken arms, and other bruises. It is good to bring them in for a checkup if there’s no specific problem yearly just to remove the accumulated traumas. When treated regularly, children seem to understand innately when they need a bodywork treatment and when they need to see an allopathic doctor. Their bodies have learned what they need to help deal with stress.

    • Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia

      These two categories are similar but not the same. Depending on the cause (we really don’t know the cause), some people get much better with this work, and some people don’t. It’s a trial and error process. You will know after about five sessions, sometimes sooner, whether this works for you.

    • Chronic Pain

      Being a detective is very helpful in the search for cause of chronic pain. Listening carefully to the physical and emotional history of a person can produce wonderful clues. Sometimes the body reveals its clues layer by layer. It can be an educational process for both client and practitioner.

    • Colic in Newborns

      What is colic?
      Colic appears to be a digestive problem in infants. Symptoms are hours of crying, usually in the evening. It looks like the child has a distended stomach and indigestion, pain and difficulty moving food through the digestive tract.

      What causes colic?
      The birth process can cause colic, even if the birth is easy for the mother. It is not always easy for the child. Sometimes after birth, the soft bones in the infant skull need support and help adjusting. Colic can be a result of these bones not adjusting to their optimal position.

      How are bones in the head connected to colic?
      There are several major nerves in the head that can be affected by subtle restrictions in the skull. For example, the vagus nerve controls digestion, and the hypoglossal nerve controls sucking and swallowing. The nerves are the “Goldilocks” of the body. When the bones are not in their optimal position, it can irritate these important nerves, causing trouble down the line. Other symptoms or problems in infants that can be helped with adjustment of cranial bones are nursing problems, sucking and swallowing problems, sleeplessness, extended crying, digestive issues such as constipation and food allergies, delayed development, gross motor problems, Asperger’s syndrome, cerebral palsy. Some of these problems show up early, and some show up later, as the head grows. When dealt with very soon, these issues can be alleviated before they become major problems, making a huge difference for baby and parents, too!

      How do you treat colic in newborns?
      With gentle, noninvasive pressure aimed at the bones of the head, I can help relieve pressure to your infant’s cranial nerves. Many symptoms can be treated easily, without drugs, in just a few treatments at my office in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    • Depression

      Interestingly when I’m evaluating a person’s body I have found that depression and dehydration read out the same. First I ask them if they’re drinking enough water. Also, when a person has compression or congestion between the last vertebra and the sacrum, the base of the skull and the first cervical vertebra, or between two bones within the skull (the occiput and the sphenoid), it can indicate an idiopathic depression (depression from unknown causes). By releasing these structures and allowing normal blood flow and fluid movement, we can restore more normal balance.

    • Digestive Issues

      Digestive issues can come from tension in the roots of the organs that has manifested over time. It can also come from an inability from a diaphragm to move sufficiently. Therefore the organs are not getting the movement they require and their functions are diminished. By releasing old traumas to the diaphragm that may have happened through falls, accidents, getting the breath knocked out of you, or emotional or mental trauma, you allow appropriate motion to ensue and the body corrects itself naturally.

    • Elimination Issues

      Elimination issues either from the bladder or the rectum can come from tension within those organs, within the tissues around the organs, or the relationship of those organs to the general structure of the body. Again, releasing tensions in the tissues may help this problem.

    • Feeling Ungrounded

      Some people come in, saying they feel ungrounded, they can’t feel their legs, they can’t feel the earth, or they can’t feel their feet. This can be a problem with trauma to the coccyx bone resulting from a bad fall, difficult childbirth or other trauma.

    • Growing Pains

      Growing pains are natural but with some children they are more intense and can disturb their sleep. Taking stress out of the bones by doing zero balancing with specific attention to the affected bones seems to help.

    • Headaches and Migraines

      Headaches Migraine headaches Chronic tension headache Stress headache Frequent headache Persistent headache Cluster headache Severe headache Hormonal (PMS) headache TMJ headache

      Headaches and migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches, can be more debilitating than most people realize. The headache often occurs with other symptoms, such as disorientation, irritability, dizziness, vomiting or other digestive difficulty, loss of libido, and other seemingly unrelated symptoms.

      What causes headaches and migraines?
      Many chronic headache conditions come from head trauma that could have happened recently, or as many as 5, 10, 20 years ago, even as a result of a difficult birth! If you have this kind of trauma, you may have more than headaches. You may experience difficult digestion, muscular pain, problems conceiving, or other issues that seem unrelated to the headache. This happens because the body, if it cannot do what it wants using the most efficient pathways, will find another path. The path it takes is less efficient. For instance, if you hurt your knee and you start limping, it is harder to walk and takes more energy. A headache can sometimes come from a fall on your tailbone, digestive issues, or even emotional issues that block the most efficient pathway. Your body’s systems develop a habit of “limping” or moving this way, and that habit persists even after the tissue trauma is long gone. See my “energy effect” video, below. Over time, this develops into a pattern of chronic or recurring pain.

    • Infertility

      Infertility is a complex problem. The two aspects that I’ve been able to help with are tensions in the pelvic cavity as a result of trauma to the coccyx bone or tensions within the pelvic cavity or within the uterus. Sometimes the problem is with a restriction around the liver or gallbladder that is near an artery that feeds the organs in the pelvic cavity.

    • Jaw pain (TMJ)

      Jaw pain Tooth pain Dental trauma Dental surgery recovery Limited jaw movement Clenching or grinding of the teeth

      What causes TMJ jaw problems?
      Jaw problems are often the result of injuries or surgeries in the mouth, teeth, or head. Braces or other orthodontic work can be a culprit, as well as a fall on the back, especially the coccyx or sacrum. Sometimes it’s sports injury, blow to the head or face, whiplash, or any number of jarring things, that eventually manifest as jaw problems. Emotional issues, such as frustration, anger, stress, any of those emotions that make you clench your jaw or grind your teeth, can lead to TMJ and jaw pain as well.
      Treatment for jaw pain and TMJ disorders.
      With gentle, noninvasive pressure aimed at the head, neck, and jaw, I can help your body release tension from these places, which then releases the tension from the temporal mandibular joint and jaw. Many kinds of TMJ and jaw pain can be treated easily, without drugs in 2-4 treatments.

    • Knee Pain

      Why did this knee pain start? Was it an accident? Was it a “funny twisting move that didn’t seem like much”? With knee pain you have to look at the foot, the ankle and the hip. These are the neighbors of the knee. Stress in any one of these can relate directly to the knee. The knee is the most complicated joint in the body. But when you work with the whole body, release tension in the hip and the ankle, and release special knee tension points at home, many people can avoid further conventional intervention.

    • Low Back Pain—Sacroiliac Pain

      Low back pain, surprisingly enough, can come from the organs, specifically where the organs attach to the body (the root). Wherever anything is attached to anything else is a place where stress can accumulate. By releasing this stress it can release the tension in the low back. Some low back pain as well as sacroiliac pain, which may look like sciatica, is really a problem with a tense piriformis. By releasing this tension and teaching clients how to release it themselves, back pain can greatly diminish. Other back pain can be caused from tension in the tube that surrounds the spinal cord. This is called the dural tube. This tension can relate to the nerve roots, which have a direct relationship to the nerves in the low back. By releasing the tension in the tube around those nerve roots, you can release tension and pain in the low back. Low back pain may also be a result of tension in the upper neck where the base of the skull attaches to the cervical spine.

    • Menstrual Problems

      Some menstrual problems can be caused by trauma to the coccyx bone or trauma to the sacrum. Sometimes tension in the pelvic diaphragm (those muscles that keep your organs from falling out of your body) can also cause menstrual problems. Sometimes the uterus itself is not in an optimal position. With very gentle pressure we can release some of these tensions and reorient the uterus.

    • Neck Pain

      Neck pain Cervical pain Chronic neck pain Crick in the neck Stiff neck Whiplash

      Many kinds of neck pain can be treated easily, without drugs, in 2-4 treatments.

      What causes neck pain?
      The neck is the most delicate part of the spine, and the most versatile. Neck pain can come from any other part of the spine, from stress or tension, or from mild to severe whiplash or other injury. Chronic work stress, such as holding a telephone or slouching over a computer keyboard (“nerd neck”), can also be a root cause of neck pain.

      Treatment for neck pain.
      With gentle, noninvasive pressure aimed at the bones of the head, jaw, neck and shoulders, I can help your body release tension from the neck and relieve neck pain. My clients’ neck pain often resolves easily, without drugs, in 2-4 treatments at my office in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    • New Mothers

      Being a new mother is ten times more stressful than their previous ideas and notions about it. In addition to the incredible joy of falling in love again, you balance that with sleepless nights, endless feedings and diapering, lack of showers and self-care, confusion, insecurities, and reestablishing new relationship patterns with your spouse and family. A zero balancing session helps put the body back in balance after the many months of carrying the baby and the sometimes difficult labor and delivery process. That in itself can be an enormous help because you’ve reestablished you connection to your body in a relaxed way. The comment “I feel like myself again” is common. The ability to deal with all of the changes and challenges becomes easier.educational process for both client and practitioner.

    • Newborn/Infant Sucking & Nursing Difficulty

      What causes difficulty swallowing, sucking, and nursing?
      The birth process can cause difficulty swallowing, sucking, and nursing, even if the birth is easy for the mother. It is not always easy for the child. Sometimes after birth, the soft bones in the infant skull need support and help adjusting. Nursing difficulties, swallowing problems, and sucking difficulties can be a result of these bones not adjusting to their optimal position.

      How are bones in the head connected to difficulty nursing?
      There are several major nerves in the head that can be affected by subtle restrictions in the skull. For example, the vagus nerve controls digestion, and the hypoglossal nerve controls sucking and swallowing. The nerves are the “Goldilocks” of the body. When the bones are not in their optimal position, it can irritate these important nerves, causing trouble down the line. Other symptoms or problems in infants that can be helped with adjustment of cranial bones are colic, sleeplessness, extended crying, digestive issues such as constipation and food allergies, delayed development, gross motor problems, Asperger’s syndrome, cerebral palsy. Some of these problems show up early, and some show up later, as the head grows. When dealt with very soon, these issues can be alleviated before they become major problems, making a huge difference for baby and parents, too!

      How do you treat difficult nursing, sucking and swallowing problems in infants?
      With gentle, noninvasive pressure aimed at the bones of the head, I can help relieve pressure to your infant’s cranial nerves. Many symptoms can be treated easily, without drugs, in just a few treatments at my office in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    • Orthodontia and Other Dental Work

      If you are receiving orthodontia as a child or an adult, the bones in your face are being restructured. To have the best possible effect, it is important to balance that out with the tensions in the bones in your skull. Other invasive dental work, which can be so important, can also leave an imprint of trauma in the skull. This can be easily removed even after decades have passed. Sometimes this can be a decrease of sensitivity to heat or cold in the mouth, relieving of headaches or tinnitus.

    • Shoulder Pain

      If there is not need for surgical repair, such as a tear in the rotator cuff or the biceps tendon, releases in the upper back, clavicle and neck can release shoulder tension. For people who have tried every sort of the therapy in the book and their shoulder pain is still present, I look to the liver and the gallbladder. Tensions in the membranes around the liver and gallbladder can commonly lead to chronic shoulder pain.

    • Stress

      Everything is stress! Everywhere we turn anymore we have stress. You can’t watch the news without feeling stressed. There’s nothing like a zero balancing to bring you back into your body, to balance your mind, body and emotions. When we have a well-functioning body, stress is designed to roll off our backs like water off a duck’s back. When our shoulder blades are glued into our back, we actually pull more stress into us. Every little thing seems bigger than it actually is.

    • Teens

      The stress in a teen’s life is significant. Zero balancing can be light a light in a tunnel, removing stress, helping them feel more in their bodies, connected to themselves and to the earth. Teens seem to really like and appreciate this work. One young man asked for bodywork treatment as a Valentine’s Day gift when he could have had several CDs instead.

    • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

      Tinnitus can either be resolved quickly over several months or not at all. If the inner ear has had permanent nerve damage, it is unlikely to get much better, though some improvement seems able to be made. If it appears like nerve damage but is a result of congestion and a nerve not getting appropriate blood supply, then improvement can be made.

    • Trauma

      Trauma can be from accidents, surgery, or emotions. People who see me before and after surgery respond much better to the surgery, recover faster, have fewer long-time side effects from anesthesia and need less pain medication. The sooner I can see someone after a bad fall or after an accident (and after they’ve been checked out by their doctor) the easier time that the body can have for recovery.

    420 Third Street, NE
    Charlottesville, VA 22902
    434-466-2292