Returning to our Origins and Re-patterning our Responses to Life and Relationships
By Myrna Martin, MN, RCC, RCST®
This model of therapy has grown out of research that shows that prenates, newborns and children in their first two years of life are conscious, aware, perceptive, feeling and respond to these very early experiences throughout the rest of their life. These experiences imprint and become our subconscious programming. The name for this process is the attachment process.
Attachment is the bond co created between a baby and the person who cares for him/her in the first few years of life. This bond lays down in the body, in the brain and nervous system, a template for who this baby becomes in relationship to himself, in relationship to other people, in relationship to his body and in relationship to learning. This is the place of the mind, body, spirit connection. It is a primary determinant of cardiovascular, neuroendrocine and immune system health lifelong.
We have known for a long time that nicotine, alcohol, drug use or poor nutrition have traumatic effects on prenates and little ones. We now know that how a child is welcomed during the pregnancy, supported through the birth process, and the quality of the infant parent attachment process in the first eighteen months of life all form the foundation of the psyche, brain and the nervous system’s approach to life, as well as the structural aspects of the body. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health in adulthood can be linked to prenatal/birth/attachment experiences. The patterns we use to deal with stress and how we approach cognitive learning are laid down in these pre verbal times.
This work is based in a broad knowledge base of embryology, infant / child development and attachment processes, neurobiology, craniosacral therapy, trauma resolution, family therapy, and midwifery and obstetrical practices.
Because the template for our life is laid down in preverbal times this therapy works with the root source of life’s difficulties and well being. It is an intensive approach that repatterns difficult, painful historical experiences at the somatic level. The work can offer deep, profound and often comparatively quick resolution of problems and issues that have resisted other therapeutic approaches. The nervous system’s response to stress can be repatterned: neuroendrocrines can be released differently, differents parts of the brain are activated and new ways of being with situations arise. We can change our brains and nervous systems, truly healing.
The model is founded on the truth that, as our birthright, we have the resources within us to live full, creative, gratifying lives. We can reconnect with our authentic selves and reclaim the health and wholeness within us. We can release and repattern unwanted and unnecessary imprinting from our nervous systems, so we can regulate our actions, emotions, beliefs and thoughts in ways that support us. We can learn to slow down, experience and name the sensations, feelings, images, memories and not get lost in the ‘story’ so that our health and full energy can emerge . In this non judgemental, gentle process we co create the space to understand and accept our history, and see the ramifications of these imprints and more accurately understand how certain patterns show up and repeat in our daily life. The client works at his/her leading edge (I will use the feminine for the rest of the article, but the process is the same, no matter what our gender is), where she is in touch with her resources, to create and integrate the changes she wants in her life. The result is a deeper commitment to one’s authentic self, more compassionate, loving relationships, and the creation of healthy families that support the optimal growth of infants/children through effective parenting. Healing early trauma imprinting makes a major contribution to emotional connection and secure attachment in the entire family.
Prenatal/Birth/Attachment Therapy with Families With Pregnant Couples or Mothers
We examine what best supports an optimal beginning. Parents resolve their own early traumatic imprinting to support their baby to grow within a healthy legacy and experience an optimal early life. They work through fears, phobias, conflicts and learn new ways to establish and deepen their relationship with each other and their relationship with their baby. They learn to support and stay connected to their baby during the prenatal and birth process and afterward, no matter what comes up. These babies begin life on the outside already being imprinted with a felt sense of loveableness, safety, protection, and accurate reflection of who they really are.
Healing Early is the Easiest, Best Possible Way With Babies
Coming into the world is a huge event in the life of a baby. The pressures on the cranium, getting stuck, the use of interventions (whether chemical or surgical, even if they are life saving) greatly affect the infant’s body structure and nervous system.
Adverse imprints may show up in diverse ways, such as breastfeeding or feeding difficulties, colic, sleep disturbances, difficulties with transitions, brief separations and the inability to settle or self calm. These stress imprints can be healed early and completely.
When babies and children co create secure attachment with their care givers they are self confident and resilient, even through times of internal and external stress.
Adverse imprints from earlier times can show up as hyperactivity, headaches, stomach aches, inappropriate social skills. I help children and their families to re-establish the child’s natural healthy growth and well being, and to establish ease in their relationships with siblings, parents and peers. Parents develop new ways to approach and support their children during difficult times.
Children and babies who heal within themselves and within their family relationships when they are very young resolve adverse imprints so they don’t become the foundation for life patterns of relating to one’s self and others.
Sandplay therapy with older children (approx. age 3 and up) and their family
Both the child and the parents can approach their inner world through play with sand, water, and a wide variety of miniature figures (people, buildings, vehicles, trees, animals, stones, gems, fairytale and mythical figures). The sand tray enhances focus and concentration and encourages the unconscious to give uninhibited expression. This process helps children and parents speak to each other and their respective unconscious in a creative way that deepens their connection without words.
Sources of Early Traumatic Imprinting
Everyone experiences some level of stress in our prenatal, birth process and early life. The long term impact is proportional to the extent and duration of the trauma and the quality of connection we had with our parents at the time. If we had strong support and loving connection the impact will be less.
Some possible sources of early trauma are:
Biochemical stresses during pregnancy from poor nutrition, exposure to alcohol, nicotine, pesticides and other chemicals/drugs
Moderate to high levels of maternal or family stress, fear, anxiety or depression
Unwelcoming or fearful responses to discovery of the pregnancy, or not being wanted in some part of the pregnancy
Consideration of abortion or attempted abortion of the beginning baby
Domestic violence or stressful abusive relationship between the parents
Death in the immediate family
Loss of a twin during pregnancy or at birth….this can be in very early pregnancy when a twin pregnancy was not even confirmed. With very early ultrasounds now becoming much more common we now have evidence that many more of us than previously suspected were conceived with a twin, who died in the first trimester of pregnancy
Chemical induction of labor
Fetal monitors that are screwed into the baby’s scalp
Unusually long or very fast short labors
Being stuck during labour
Cord wrapped tightly around the babies’ neck
Deprivation of oxygen from many causes
Near death experiences from any cause
Surgical Interventions such as C Section, forceps, vacuum extraction
Analgesics or anesthesia that breaks connection between the mom and baby
Neonatal (at birth or in the first few weeks of life)
Separation from the mother after birth or for any extended period of time during infancy Adoption
Maternal postpartum anxiety or depression, or other mental illness in the family
Death in the immediate family
Moderate to high pain, from accident, injury or illness including
Circumcision or any other surgery, heel sticks, spinal taps etc.
Hospitalization of baby or Mother
Unresolved traumatic history in parents or ancestors that is unresolved
Possible Signs a Baby Has a Adverse Imprint
Glossed over eyes, or avoids eye contact
Crossed or divergent eyes
Total or partial inability to orient in new situations
Hypo or hypertonicity in body
Startle responses without the presence of loud sounds or fast movements
Involuntary shaking or tremors, hands splayed or very tightly clenched
High pitched, weak or hollow crying sounds, excessive crying that is inconsolable
Doesn’t cuddle in when held, arching away or being rigid regularly
Very extended periods sleeping
Latching difficulties, excessive hiccups, frequent gagging, extreme spitting up or
Possible Signs in Older Children of Adverse Imprints
Inappropriate (for age) aggression or timidity, tantrums
Problems with balance, coordination, muscle tone, gait
Reactions out of proportion to stimulus (for age)
Difficulty with eye contact, touch
Difficulty sleeping, frequent night terrors
Hypersensitivity to light, sound, certain materials, textures
Health challenges such as asthma, eczema, food allergies
Rage towards parents or siblings (out of proportion to event, or for age)
Inability to ask for help (appropriate for age)
Parent’s Responses to these Imprints in their Children
Helplessness, overwhelm, numbness
Anxiety, depression, feeling stressed all the time
Conflict and mutual blaming between parents
Difficulty asking for help and support
Difficulty setting healthy limits and boundaries with the children, saying ‘no’ when appropriate