(by Wendy Anne McCarty, PhD, RN, HNB-BC, DCEP)
Prenatal and perinatal psychology’s intense study and clinical experience now spans decades. Findings reveal that the period between pre-conception and the first year of postnatal life is THE most influential and foundation-establishing developmental period. All infant, childhood, adolescent, and adult development are predicated upon the experiences and patterns formed during the prenatal and perinatal period. When we consider the early origins associated with current issues and patterns, prenatal and perinatal origins are often the key for elegant transformation at any age.
For the past 20 years, I have integrated prenatal and perinatal psychology (PPN) early origins knowledge with energy psychology healing modalities in my work with pregnant moms, babies, children, young families, and adults. I find PPN and energy psychology to be an effective combination that helps clients elegantly transform those life-diminishing patterns and become more whole and present now. I believe that most of us have never fully embodied into our human form and psyche. Our journey of embodiment at the beginning of life is a wonderful place to re-connect with our selves to heal and become more of who we truly are today.
Most practitioners have training and expertise in working with the relationship between childhood experience and current issues. Many have experience with infant origins and have gained training and understanding in attachment, developmental neuroscience, and infant mental health. Yet there is still a significant gap in training therapists and healing arts practitioners in this most important and foundation-establishing period from pre-conception through birth and bonding.
I have worked with families as an obstetrical nurse, parent-infant specialist, marriage and family therapist, and prenatal and birth psychology consultant for 40 years. In 1989, I discovered prenatal and perinatal psychology and began working with babies and young children — learning from them about what they experienced in the womb and during birth and bonding, how those earlier experiences were still influencing them, and what therapies and approaches could help them heal most elegantly. It has been a truly awe-inspiring journey.
The babies, children, and families have changed my entire perspective of who babies are and what their capacities and needs are from preconception forward. I had to “relearn” the entire landscape of early development as they blew past my mainstream education and lens of what they were capable of. They revealed sentient transcendental consciousness, as well as vulnerable human awareness and needs.
PPN clinical experience and evidence lead us to an expanded understanding of the early origins of human patterns at all levels of being — physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and relational. But even more importantly, PPN findings revolutionize the current mainstream view of human development that remains based on viewing babies as fundamentally biological beings, in which consciousness is seen to arise from brain and nervous system development.
PPN clinical experience, grounded in valuing babies’ point of view, consistently finds two perspectives present from the beginning of human life — a transcendental I AM presence perspective and a human perspective. Under an academic grant, I reviewed these PPN clinical findings and my own clinical experiences. I created a new consciousness-based early development model that reflects the expanded multidimensional world babies experience and live in during the prenatal and perinatal period. I published it in my book, Welcoming Consciousness.
In the book, I share therapeutic stories of children in PPN-oriented therapy that portray their expanded awareness and the impact of their prenatal and birth experiences. In this story, a mother talks with her 3-yr-old son about his birth:
After hearing a PPN talk about how conscious babies are at birth, Rachel decided to talk to her three-year-old son about his birth, their separation after birth, and why that separation had occurred. As she began telling him about the separation, he chimed in, “Yeah, I didn’t like that. I didn’t think you were going to come back. I didn’t know if you were going to come back.”
In this conversation, Vinnie very spontaneously and in a matter-of fact way revealed that he clearly had a sense of himself and of his mother as being a separate person he was in relationship with as a newborn…This three-year-old child’s comments demonstrated he had known his mother was gone, that they were separated, he expressed the emotional tones associated with missing her, AND wondered if she was coming back in the future–all as a newborn!
At the time of this conversation, Vinnie had been having very uncharacteristically intense “meltdowns” when his mother began leaving him at preschool, his first experience of being separated from her and left in a group situation. What were the words he would say to her in the midst of this? “But, I’ll never see you again. You may never come back.” It appeared that being left at this group preschool had triggered a traumatic memory from being separated at his birth. After this conversation acknowledging what happened at his birth and his feelings about it, his current separation anxiety response dissipated without further intervention.
Often, as this story portrays, the sweet spot of the healing is to have an unresolved multidimensional prenatal and birth experience heard, held, and to dialogue about what did happen, and how we felt about it. What beliefs and unanswered questions got etched in our psyche? This is where utilizing our energy psychology techniques are a very natural and effective extension of this healing process at any age.
I believe that leading edge energy psychology practice includes training and experience in working with prenatal and perinatal origins as a fundamental component. More specifically, I believe it is imperative that we revisit our mainstream assumptions and models about “early development.” This is so important because it is the modern era’s lack of attunement and awareness of babies’ primary consciousness, presence, capacities, and needs at the beginning of life that all too often set in motion life-diminishing patterns that are the underpinning of current patterns at any age.
Understanding our fuller transcendental/human nature at the beginning of life and how our multidimensional experiences in the womb (as well as during birth and bonding) set in motion life patterns we identify with today is an integral part of the healing and transformational journey at any age.
McCarty, W.A. (2013). EFT for the beginning of life: Supporting wholeness, human potential, and optimal relationships. In D. Church and S. Marohn (Eds.), The clinical EFT handbook: A definitive resource for practitioners, scholars, clinicians, and researchers (Vol. 2), (pp. 415-436). Fulton, CA: Energy Psychology Press.
McCarty, W. A. (2012). Welcoming consciousness: Supporting babies’ wholeness from the beginning of life–An integrated model of early development. Santa Barbara, CA: Wondrous Beginnings Publishing.
McCarty, W. A. (2006) Clinical story of a 6-year-old boy’s eating phobia: An integrated approach utilizing prenatal and perinatal psychology with energy psychology’s emotional freedom technique (EFT) in a surrogate non-local application. Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health 21(2), 117-139.
Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health: birthpsychology.com
Wendy Anne McCarty, PhD, RN, HNB-BC, DCEP is a leader in the holistic frontier to optimize spiritual human potential and relationships from the beginning of life forward. Her innovative work brings together pre- and perinatal psychology, her pioneering consciousness-based early development model, energy psychology healing modalities, and spirituality. She is the co-founder and core faculty member of graduate degree programs in prenatal and perinatal psychology as well as a global educator and trainer to professionals and organizations. Wendy is also the author of Welcoming Consciousness: Supporting Babies’ Wholeness from the Beginning of Life–An Integrated Model of Early Development (2012) and 30+ publications. She is a consultant to families and professions for personal growth and healing. www.wondrousbeginnings.com Wendy is a member of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology.
Dr. McCarty will present a 6-hr CE Pre-Conference Workshop on June 2: Prenatal and Perinatal Origins: Essentials for the Energy Psychology Practitioner. You can register for her workshop and learn more about the entire 18th International Energy Psychology Conference | Santa Clara, CA | June 2-5, 2016 at energypsychologyconference.com.