Lifestyle feature: Relaxation at Chichester Natural Health Centre

Rod Hague Picture by Kate Shemilt C140705-2
Rod Hague Picture by Kate Shemilt C140705-2

Looking at the business park off a busy city-centre road, you would never guess a natural health clinic is just metres away.

But City Business Centre, in Basin Road, Chichester, is home to the Chichester Natural Health Centre, aiming to support patients manage both acute and chronic conditions.

The newest member of the team is Rod Hague, a craniosacral therapist, who I go along to meet.

Craniosacral therapy is a way of working the body using light touch.

It is distinct from osteopathy because it does not involve the manipulation of bones and muscles.

“About 30 years ago a whole bunch of osteopaths realised they were just using this touch and decided to start teaching that section so it became a distinct therapy,” said Rob.

Many people start craniosacral therapy because they have acute physical problems like headaches or bad backs. However, because it is non-invasive, it can be used on anyone from newborns to the elderly.

Mothers and babies often visit Rod after difficult or traumatic births.

In Canada, all newborns receive the therapy as part of post-natal care.

“You tend to have waves of people that have the same type of condition,” said Rod.

“I had a lot of people with sciatica for a while. Then I often have a lot of babies with colic or who have had relatively traumatic births.”

Unlike massage, the therapy does not stimulate the lymphatic system, meaning it is suitable for cancer patients.

What to expect

The first session begins with a written case history, with Rod taking details of work life, previous injuries, medical history and anything else he thinks may be relevant.

“That is why the first session is an hour-and-a-half. Depending on the client, it can take quite a while to get those details down,” said Rob.

“Then follows the couch time, people lie down on their backs if they are comfortable or sitting up if not.

“I tend to start with the ankles and the feet to check the left and right balance and get a better picture of the overall balance.”

During my session, Rod does this just before moving on to the base of my spine and head.

It is a strange sensation at first as it barely feels as though Rod is moving his hands, but I quickly relax, eventually falling asleep on the table.

Rod has also warned me my stomach may rumble and parts of my body may twitch as my body goes into a deeply relaxed state and my nerves are stimulated, both of which happen.

I end the session feeling suitably refreshed, but most people are seeking relief for a specific problem.

Rob explains the number of sessions depends on the conditions involved and how long ago an injury or strain has been sustained.

“Quite often people will come to see me when they have tried a lot of other things, so the trauma could be quite a long time ago,” said Rod.

“So getting the body to let go of that original trauma can take quite a long time.

“Similarly, I also saw a lady who had really bad sciatica because she was pregnant and she had one treatment and didn’t need to come back.

“Some people come only for an MOT once a year just to maintain health.”

Family tradition

For Rod, who became fully qualified three years ago, the therapy has always been part of his life.

“My grandfather was an osteopath, as was my aunt and my uncle is a craniosacral therapist,” he explains.

“I have had treatments all my life and discovered I had an empathy for it myself.

“I went to a couple of my uncle’s classes and then went on to do my training.”

At Chichester Natural Health Centre, run under the management of Gabriella Kispal since 1999, Rod is one of a team providing natural therapies.

Other practitioners at the centre include an acupuncturist, naturopath, nutritionist, reflexologist, aromatherapist, homeopath, massage therapist and medical herbalist.

Speaking about his new team, he said: “It is a very nice group and it is nice to work with other therapists, having been doing it myself until now.”

For more information on the centre visit