Become an Apprentice

Introduction to the Tibetan Cranial [TC] Apprentice Program

To become a Tibetan Cranial® Practitioner, a two- to four-year program of instruction, study, and practice is required. We call this process “Apprenticeship,” in the same way other fine crafts have been taught throughout history. Working under Master Teacher Shar Lee, Apprentices develop the ability to hear the language of the pulses in order to know exactly what each client needs. Developing this skill takes training, practice, patience, humility, time, and dedication. Apprentices also cultivate a strong spiritual practice that allows them to sustain a sacred state of mantra or prayer throughout a Tibetan Cranial session. Connection to Spirit allows for information to be received and understood in a more precise way, thus opening the possibility for the client to heal from within.

Each year, Apprentices attend two five-day retreat trainings and two weekend clinics, to learn through direct instruction and practice. Apprentices also are required to practice between trainings and clinics.

5-Day Retreat Trainings

For their first training, new Apprentices can attend either a five-day training in Colorado or another location. In Colorado, new Apprentices will spend much of their learning and hands-on time with Teacher Interns, and they will join with Master Teacher Shar Lee as well as continuing Apprentices for a significant part of the program. Trainings at other locations will be led by other teachers. After their first training, new Apprentices need to attend Colorado trainings, where they will be taught by Shar Lee along with other other continuing.

The Colorado five-day retreat trainings take place at beautiful retreat centers: Cathedral Ridge, near Colorado Springs; or Sunrise Ranch, near Loveland. In addition to the in-depth teaching of Tibetan Cranial, Shar teaches the Apprentices yoga, meditation, and mantra. Shar’s teaching style is hands-on and nurturing. The teachings enable each person to enter a calm, receptive state, necessary to receive this training and to do Tibetan Cranial work. This format also allows for Tibetan Cranial to be taught in its original Eastern style: non-verbally, tactually, and intuitively.


Twice each year, between our five-day retreat trainings, we hold weekend clinics. Clinics are a critical component of our Apprentice program. They support the Apprentices’ work between the five-day retreat trainings, further expand their skills, and ensure that each Apprentice’s continuing independent practice maintains integrity and accuracy. Each Apprentice receives individual attention and instruction, to improve his or her Tibetan Cranial technique, while doing sessions for people who come to the clinic to experience Tibetan Cranial.

Colorado clinics are held every February and July, in Denver or Boulder. As we expand our training programs, clinics may be offered in other states and at other times. Clinics are held on weekends so as to not interfere with work schedules.

Clinics begin Friday late afternoon and end Sunday evening. On Saturday and Sunday, the clinic begins with teaching sessions with Shar (in Colorado) or other teachers. Then, Apprentices provide as many as six sessions per day to people coming to the clinic. These sessions are overseen by Shar (in Colorado) or other teachers, teacher interns, and other Practitioners, enabling Apprentices to receive additional teaching and feedback. At night, Apprentices and Practitioners often join together for dinner.

All Apprentices who live in the continental United States must attend two clinics each year, at least one of which is in Colorado with Shar Lee. Apprentices who live outside of the continental United States may, but are not required, to attend clinics. Often, Apprentices from out-of-town stay with local Apprentices while in Colorado for clinics.

Clinics also provide an opportunity for TC Practitioners to continue their learning, meet new people interested in receiving sessions, connect with Apprentices, and give back to our organization by filling volunteer roles during the clinic.

Providing TC Sessions as an Apprentice

Between trainings and clinics, Apprentices practice TC by providing sessions to people. Each Apprentice is expected to do at least 108 sessions per year, including sessions at trainings and clinics. Apprentices build their skills and refine their techniques by providing a significant number of sessions independently, outside of trainings and clinics. Apprentices are not permitted to charge for sessions, in the spirit of providing service and in gratitude to those who come to the Apprentices to help with their learning.

Becoming an Apprentice

The Tibetan Cranial Association is dedicated to the survival of this ancient modality. We are currently seeking people who are interested in learning Tibetan Cranial and are willing to enter the life-changing process it requires. Apprentices provide great service to many people, both during the Apprenticeship and after as Practitioners, and carry on this tradition by doing sacred healing work that has been shown to alleviate great suffering and promote a profound sense of well-being.

If you feel drawn to this work and you can make room in your life for this program, please read the additional Apprenticeship requirements below and then contact us by phone at 720-378-8044 or email us at A Practitioner will get in touch with you to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process of becoming an Apprentice.

Tibetan Cranial [TC] Apprentice Program: Requirements

  1. Meet with Shar Lee or another teacher. All potential Apprentices need to meet with Shar Lee or another teacher before starting the TC Apprentice Program, to talk about the Program and to have his or her pulses read. Please call Shar at 303-651-9605 to schedule a meeting. If you cannot travel to meet with Shar or another teacher before the training, please contact Shar to discuss the possibility of other arrangements. 
  2. Experience Tibetan Cranial. Whenever possible, potential Apprentices should experience Tibetan Cranial for themselves before joining the Apprentice program. If you have not received a TC session, Shar may be able to fit you into her schedule before the training, especially if you mention your interest in the Apprentice program. We also have many Practitioners and Apprentices who would be happy to schedule a TC session with you and talk to you about our program. You can contact Shar at 303-651-9605, or click here to find contact information for Practitioners and Apprentices.
  3. Maintain an ongoing spiritual practice. Our five-day retreat program includes yoga and meditation to help you create, expand, and reinforce your current spiritual practice. All TC sessions require the Apprentice to be in a state of mantra or prayer. It takes a regular personal practice to be able to hold this focus for extended periods of time. Although spiritual practice is necessary, no particular spiritual tradition is required, and people of many different backgrounds have become Practitioners.
  4. Attend the five-day retreat trainings twice per year. Missing a training will result in suspension of TC Apprenticeship. (See statement from the TC Board of Directors below.)
  5. Attend the two-day weekend clinics twice per year. Missing a clinic will result in suspension of TC Apprenticeship. Apprentices who do not live in the continental United States may be excused. (See statement from the TC Board of Directors below.)
  6. Complete 108 TC sessions per year. Practicing on as many people as possible, including other Apprentices, between trainings and clinics is essential to learning to read the pulses.
  7. Purchase liability insurance. Apprentices must have liability insurance. Those who do not already have insurance can purchase a student policy from Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP:

Apprenticeship Program Financial Investment

Apprenticeship entails the following expenses:

  • Approximately $1200 to $1350 for each five-day retreat training. The cost includes training fees, lodging, and food; cost varies based on whether the Apprentice selects a single room or shared room for lodging. Each Apprentice needs to attend a minimum of five retreat trainings, and many Apprentices need to attend more before completing the program.
  • $108 for each weekend clinic.
  • Approximately $45 per year for liability insurance at the student rate.
  • Costs of acquiring the supplies listed below.

Some scholarship funding is available for continuing Apprentices. As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Tibetan Cranial Association welcomes general donations as well as donations specifically for scholarship purposes.

Notice of Policy for The Tibetan Cranial®Apprentice Program, effective 7-18-08

Each Apprentice must sign a written agreement before beginning the Apprentice program. The agreement states that every Apprentice shall commit to attending two five-day retreat trainings yearly and two weekend clinic trainings yearly, as well as to performing Tibetan Cranial® (TC) work on at least 108 people annually. This agreement is considered to be in breach if an Apprentice misses any of the five-day retreat trainings or weekend clinics without prior approval of the Tibetan Cranial Association Board of Directors. Upon breach, an Apprentice will be suspended from the TC Apprentice Program immediately. Suspension means that the Apprentice may not practice any TC sessions with any clients or Apprentices, nor attend further TC Apprentice retreats or clinics.

Suspended Apprentices may apply to the Tibetan Cranial Association Board of Directors for reinstatement and will remain suspended until the Board approves the application.

Items Apprentices need to bring to TC trainings & clinics, and to have these items where they provide TC sessions between trainings and clinics:

  • A special Tibetan Cranial table. These tables have a wood surface table designed for this specialized work. The tables, which come with a carrying case, can be purchased for $375 through the Tibetan Cranial Association. We also can provide information on how to make your own table and may be able to suggest other options. We understand that it can be difficult for people who must fly to trainings and clinics to have a table at home and a table for trainings and clinics. Out-of-town Apprentices often find a local TC Apprentice or Practitioner who can store a table, and it may be possible to borrow a table for trainings and clinics. Please ask your contact person if you have any questions, or send an email to
  • Yoga clothes that have no metal and, for clinics, that are professional looking
  • Alarm clock, to wake up for class
  • A white plastic skull, which can be found on eBay or Amazon
  • Two regular bath-size towels – local people, please bring extras for our travelers
  • Two blankets – local people, please bring extras for our travelers
  • Bungee cord, 36″ adjustable (to hold towel), available at Walmart (the correct size is yellow)
  • Eye pillow
  • Bolster to place under the knees when lying on the table
  • Kneeling rug or a rolled yoga mat
  • Biotone Face Therapy or other unscented face lotion
  • Traumeel cream (homeopathic anti-inflammatory, arnica-based cream), available at health-food stores
  • Flashlight
  • Small basket, for jewelry and eye glasses during sessions
  • Yoga tube, which can be purchased from Shar for $16
  • Mala, 108 strung beads used for mantra practice
  • Meditation cushion, or you can use a bolster
  • Returning Apprentices: your TC notebook

If you feel drawn to this work and you can make room in your life for this program, please read the about the Apprentice program and Apprenticeship requirements, and then complete the contact form below. A Practitioner will get in touch with you to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process of becoming an Apprentice.

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"When I first asked Shar Lee to teach the techniques of Tibetan Cranial™ work, I had two thoughts:
  1. My Granddaughter, Zoe, has cystic fibrosis and I should learn as much as possible about all possible healing modalities.
  2. Studying with Shar is my greatest pleasure. Whatever she would wish to teach, I would want to learn.
I am NOT a massage therapist, I am a yoga teacher; I've never even had a massage. What an odd subject to study. The first class was almost all experienced massage therapists. I felt greatly out of place as they discussed techniques that were foreign to me. The work, however, felt familiar. I could almost feel my hands move on their own. I have studied with Shar now for three years. I have practiced Tibetan Cranial™ work on my friends and family. The results are amazing. Migraine headaches dissolve. Hip pain is alleviated. One of my friends has stopped clenching her jaw and grinding her teeth. I don't for a moment think that I did this. This is the work. Tibetan Cranial is ancient, powerful, simple and has far reaching consequences. Zoe is only four years old. I have done a little work on her - it's hard to get her to lie still. I have great hope for her future and faith that I was led to this work with a purpose. Now we must teach others. This technique is too valuable to lose."

- Suzanne Matthews, Littleton, CO