My path toward becoming a pre and perinatal (PPN) therapist started when I began working with the body. I had been a painter, dancer and movement teacher for years and was used to living an embodied life. In my late twenties I started to pursue various somatic trainings, such as massage therapy, Somatic Experiencing, movement based expressive art therapy, and sexological bodywork. As a young adult living in Germany I had been exposed to many somatic therapies, so I felt familiar with this approach.
At one point I discovered Dr. Ray Castellino’s Prenatal and Birth Therapy and felt that this work was reaching layers in myself that I had not been able to connect with before, both as a practitioner and as a client. I attended his professional three year long foundation training and simultaneously started my graduate studies at Santa Barbara Graduate Institute in clinical psychology with a specialization in pre and perinatal psychology. Going through the academic and the practitioner training at the same time was both challenging and enriching and gave me a deep understanding of the theoretical framework as well as the clinical skills of PPN therapy. I followed up with assisting various practitioners, including Myrna Martin, in their application of the PPN model, took and assisted Dr. Ray Castellino & Anna Chitty’s Body Into Being training and became a member of APPPAH to stay connected with my community of peers. Here, I got exposed to other ways of working with PPN material, ranging from EFT to Cognitive Behavioral approaches.
In the years since my training I have applied PPN psychology to various fields of clinical work and education. I have worked with elementary school children, offering play therapy and integrating PPN and Somatic Experiencing principles into the work; a very complementary combination. I apply the underpinnings of PPN theory and practice to working with couples and somatic sex coaching, as well as seeing individual adults and families. Another influence on my PPN work has been through the medical model: I work closely with an O.M.D. and homeopath and apply homeopathy to clients of all ages who see me for PPN therapy. There are several key remedies that are closely linked to early experiences, and I have found that this is a helpful modality especially for children.
Another recent project I completed was to co-teach and develop the curriculum for a very well received class series on PPN psychology for birthworkers and I am currently working on another educational class series for a different population. I also offer Womb Surround Process Workshops, a specific format for working with early imprints in small groups developed by Dr. Ray Castellino.
One of my biggest passions at this point is my work as a somatic sex and intimacy coach. I apply my understanding of the nervous system and pre and perinatal imprints to working with people who want to have a more fulfilling sex life. Our intimate relationships are affected by prenatal imprints such as our conception experience, our parents’ sexual patterns (before, during, and after pregnancy), our early attachment experiences with each parent starting at conception, the birth itself, and the postnatal bonding period. Many of my clients have explored later influences on their sexuality, such as sexual trauma, their first sexual experiences, collective belief structures around gender and sexuality, etc, but hardly anybody has ever looked at how the prenatal period affected their intimate life. In December 2015 I will be lecturing at the APPPAH congress about this topic.
To me the most exciting aspect of PPN therapy is that the principles lend themselves to any body of work: They allow for deep, yet subtle attachment work and repatterning of early somatic imprints, no matter what concerns the client is coming in with. They can be combined with any other training I may seek and will always enrich and deepen my understanding of the subject at hand. There is so much room for creativity and since the field is still relatively new, it is possible to be a pioneer and develop my own applications. I am inspired every day by what my peers are doing, and I love supporting other PPN psychology enthusiasts on their path to integrating PPN principles into their work.