Recently I presented a workshop, working with preverbal issues at any age utilizing Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), at the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) Conference. Many of the attendees were seasoned holistic practitioners. I asked how many people had training to assess and work with adult clients’ childhood-related issues. Nearly everyone in the room raised their hands. I then asked how many had training for infancy-related issues? The number dropped to about one in three. When I asked how many had training to assess and work with adult issues anchored in prenatal and perinatal experience only a few hands remained raised, less than 10% of those present.
During the late 20th century, the focus moved from “childhood” to the first three years of postnatal life, “zero-to-three,” as the critical period in which life-long patterns were set in motion. With this evolving focus on infancy, professionals began obtaining more training in infant mental health, developmental neuroscience, attachment, and early trauma to better work with clients of all ages.
Leading-edge understandings from prenatal and perinatal psychology and related fields, such as biodynamic embryology, epigenetics, and noetic sciences, roll back the primary critical period of development from infancy and early childhood to the earliest developmental period—pre-conception through baby’s first postnatal year. Newborns already portray established beliefs and ways of being in the world (McCarty, 2002). As Marti Glenn, PhD and I suggest in our 2008 position paper, “The difference between thriving and surviving begins in the womb” (McCarty & Glenn, p. 121).
For the past 25 years, I have educated professionals in prenatal and perinatal psychology. I have found that the potential connection between their clients’ current therapeutic issues and their prenatal and perinatal experience is often a rather mysterious terrain for most practitioners. More practitioners now recognize that these early experiences are important and have appreciation for “prenatal stress” and “birth trauma” as significant, but fewer feel confident to systematically identify, assess, and work with this developmental period and its long-term repercussions in their practice.
Most therapist training and graduate programs do not teach how to effectively identify these early developmental influences or recognize the potential pre- and perinatal anchors for current issues. Nor do they teach the specific skills needed to address these early-rooted issues. I believe effectively working with prenatal and perinatal issues is leading-edge territory that can elegantly help clients heal and move into more integrated, coherent wholeness at any age.
To read more of Wendy’s article, The Prenatal and Perinatal History.