Integrative Baby Therapy Training

With Matthew Appleton and Team

 

This 12-module training starts in March 2023 and is spread over 3 years. It consists of 8 teaching modules and 4 experiential ones. Teaching modules last 3 days from Friday till Sunday in Budapest. Experiential modules (Birth Journey) are residential, last 4 days at a beautiful natural setting in the Hungarian countryside. The training is held in English, with Hungarian translation.

The training is intended for practitioners already working with babies and their families, who wish to deepen their understanding of how babies and infants communicate their prenatal and birth experience and to work therapeutically with early trauma. It is also relevant to therapists who wish to understand the impact of the pre and perinatal period in the lives of older children, adolescents and adults. Previous participants have included midwives, doulas, craniosacral therapists, osteopaths, paediatricians, paediatric nurses, lactation consultants, massage therapists, body psychotherapists, psychologists and ante-natal yoga teachers.

Integrative Baby Therapy draws from a number of sources including Pre and Perinatal Psychology, Body Psychotherapy and Craniosacral Therapy. It is also informed by recent research in areas such as self-regulation, neurobiology, epigenetics, biodynamic embryology, field theory, attachment theory, traumatology, consciousness research and cross-cultural studies. The course is supported by more than two decades of clinical and teaching experience.

DATES
TEACHING MODULES
EXPERIENTIAL MODULES
MATTHEW APPLETON
APPLICATION AND DETAILS


DATES

2023
24-26 March MODULE 1
14-16 July MODULE 2
6-8 October MODULE 3
12-15 October BIRTH JOURNEY I (experiential)

2024
23-25 February MODULE 4
29 February-3 March BIRTH JOURNEY II
28-30 June MODULE 5
4-7 July BIRTH JOURNEY III
4-6 October MODULE 6
10-13 October BIRTH JOURNEY IV

2025
21-23 February MODULE 7
6-8 June MODULE 8


TEACHING MODULES 1-8

The teaching modules combine seminar style teaching, demonstrations of working with babies and families, group discussion and experiential exercises.
The course material has a strong emphasis on practical skills related to clinical issues and to the theoretical knowledge practitioners need to help parents understand and support their babies. Participants are encouraged to find their own authentic voice with the work, by which they can integrate what they learn into their existing practices, whether it be as a midwife or therapist, doula or doctor. The theoretical material is kept as simple as possible, with the emphasis being on practical application with babies, infants and their families.

Module One: Working with the Family Field

Finding the correct tempo and tone is essential to creating a safe space in which to do in to do in-depth work with babies and children. This module focuses on building trust within the relational field of the family and developing stable inner resources to listen to babies ‘tell their stories’. Participants are taught to:
• Support the needs of parents with accurate empathy
• Identify tolerance thresholds within the relational field of the family
• Negotiate permission with parents and babies
• Listen deeply and practice empathic restraint
• Understand the consequences of unresolved shock and trauma in relation to bonding and attachment (the thrive/strive continuum)
• Identify birth lie sides
• Differentiate between ‘needs crying’ and ‘memory crying’

Module Two: Birth Issues and Diagnostic Skills in Working with Babies

The stages of the birth process are usually defined in relation to the experience of the mother and the concerns of the obstetrician. This module looks at birth from the perspective of the baby and how this constellates into 4 distinct stages, each of which has its own physical and psychological consequences. Participants are taught to:
• Identify physical birth patterns and the body language by which babies seek to communicate their birth experience
• Support babies birth stories with accurate empathy
• Help parents to understand what their babies are expressing and to support the release of unresolved shock and trauma in the family field.
• Understand the relational dynamics between mother and baby during birth
• Identify the ‘Possibility Zone’ within which the resolution of birth trauma can take place.
• Develop ‘mirroring skills’ to enhance empathic rapport with babies
• Understand the consequences of unresolved birth issues in later life
• Palpate birth patterns

Module Three: Birth Interventions and their Consequences

Birth interventions are divided into mechanical interventions (such as forceps, vacuum extraction and caesarean section) and chemical interventions such as the use of anaesthesia and induction drugs. These interventions imprint the psyche of the baby and have long term consequences. Participants are taught to:
• Recognise the impact of obstetric interventions during the birth process
• Help parents to identify how these interventions may show up in their baby’s behaviour and guide them to support their baby’s to move beyond self-limiting imprinting
• Support babies with ‘facilitated movement’ techniques to complete birth processes that were interrupted by interventions
• Understand recapitulation styles which show up later in life, related to birth patterns and interventions

Module Four: Prenatal Issues and Diagnostic Skills in Working with Babies

The conventional medical understanding of consciousness as biochemical and bio-electric processes within the brain has limited the understanding of prenatal life. Yet research in the fields of foetal origins and pre and perinatal psychology reveal that prenatal life has huge impacts on our sense of self and our world. This module explores the subject of prenatal consciousness in the very first weeks of inter-uterine life. Participants are taught to:
• Identify formative prenatal themes as expressed through baby body language
• Be aware of cellular experience expressed at the level of the organism
• Recognise ‘Lost Twin Syndrome’ and support families to honour the lost twin.
• Support babies prenatal stories with accurate empathy
• Work with prenatal shock within the relational field of the family
• Understand the consequences of unresolved prenatal trauma in later life

Module Five: Umbilical Issues: Diagnostic and Clinical Skills for Working with Babies

The umbilical relationship between prenate and mother influences all subsequent relationships, including the maternal-baby relationship following birth. This module focuses on how prenates relate to their umbilical cords and the feeling-tones associated with maternal emotional states and external toxins, the role of the placenta and the cutting of the cord at birth. Participants are taught to:
• Introduced to the structure and function of the umbilical cord prenatally
• Understand the physiological changes that occur with the cutting of the cord at birth
• Be aware of prenatal umbilical dynamics at work in the relational field
• Palpate and resolve umbilical shock related to early cord cutting
• Recognise and work with ‘First Breath Syndrome’.
• Support babies umbilical dynamics with accurate empathy
• Understand the psychological and physical consequences of unresolved umbilical issues in later life

Module Six: Birth and Beyond

Returning to the theme of birth this module focuses on specific concerns and conditions arising out of unresolved prenatal and birth trauma. Emphasis is put not only on treatment, but on supporting and educating parents to understand what may be happening for their babies. Helping parents to identify their own struggles and to support them in this is also explored in this module. This module teaches participants to:
• Understand the importance of the extended ‘Field of the Womb’ period which extends to 9 months after birth
• Deepen listening skills and presence to support distressed parents and babies
• Identify breathing styles and their relation to stress (in both babies and parents)
• Recognise how earlier prenatal and birth issues may be interfering with breastfeeding and bonding
• Develop deeper resources for parents to tolerate memory crying
• Help parents to support their babies both in and outside of the treatment room
• Develop awareness of self-care for practitioners

Module Seven: The ‘Bioenergy of Wellness’

The ‘bioenergy of wellness’, as identified by cranial osteopath Rollin Becker, is a rhythmic force which “begins with the moment of conception and continues to the last moment of death.” This module explores the relationship between our capacity to express the bioenergy of wellness, autonomic states and the quality of holding in the relational field. The focus is on prophylactic work to support wellbeing, bonding and attachment. Participants are introduced to:
• The role of embryonic biodynamics in forming and sustaining the human system
• How autonomic states either disturb or support bonding and attachment
• Polyvagal theory and the role of the ‘social engagement system’
• The role of ‘armouring’ as a self-protective adaption to stress in babies
• Work sensitively with eye contact with babies
• Understand the relationship between emotions and health in later life.

Module Eight: Transitions

The transitional states of infancy, childhood and adolescent are important developmental steps. This module looks at some of the specific physiological and psychological challenges for children and adolescents and their relation to earlier prenatal and birth issues. Unresolved trauma reappears in behavioural and health problems and is often reinforced by a lack of awareness of the early origins of the difficulty. Common childhood conditions and concerns are also looked at. In this module participants are taught to:
• Work with older children and adolescents
• Identify important transitional periods in childhood and how these re-stimulate earlier traumas
• Help parents to recognise the specific prenatal and birth themes their child may be struggling with and develop strategies to support them
• Understand different attachment styles and how these may relate to pre and perinatal experience
• Understand how early interventions with Integrative Baby Therapy can help contribute to healthy behaviours and emotional and physical well-being throughout childhood, adolescence and adult life


EXPERIENTIAL MODULES
BIRTH JOURNEY I-IV

The experiential modules use embodied processes which have evolved out of decades of research and clinical experience in the field of pre and perinatal psychology the course integrates experiential and cognitive awareness of how our births have shaped us. Knowing how our own birth experience shaped us and resolving any trauma that we may still be holding onto from being born, is essential in developing embodied resonance with babies and avoiding projections of our own unresolved issues in therapy sessions.

The course is based around four distinct stages of birth from the baby’s perspective. These four stages have specific stresses and challenges for the baby, around which themes constellate that impact us and inform us throughout life. Each of the four modules focuses on one of these stages, enabling us to both to recognize and appreciate our unique birth journey impacted us. In each of the four modules techniques are taught to help facilitate birth regression. Throughout the course time is given to integrating the experiential work and developing new resources and possibilities. To create the safety and containment that allows participants to explore these early vulnerable states, confidentiality and other ground rules are agreed to in the first module. An empathic and respectful environment in which to do the work is emphasized and upheld throughout.

Module One: Stage One – Inlet Dynamics

The themes of this stage constellate around the start of the birth journey from the baby’s perspective. Whilst the cervix is still closed there is no way forward. As stage 1 progresses we come under considerable pressure from uterine contractions (about 100 pounds per square inch). As the cervix opens and the baby descends into the pelvis the foetal cranium is powerfully impacted by the maternal pelvic bones. The body remembers these experiences. Students are helped to find the body position that they were in as they encountered these forces and to understand how they were personally impacted. Each of the four stages of birth imprints experiential templates that inform us psychologically, somatically and spiritually throughout life. Themes associated with this stage include:
• How we deal with pressure and stress in our lives
• Our state of readiness to move forward in life
• The way in which we instigate projects and handle new experiences
• Our sense of self- esteem – ‘I must be a bad person to deserve this.’
• How we pace ourselves in life
• A sense of ‘no way out’ when we are under duress

Module 2: Stage 2 – Mid-Pelvic Dynamics

Human birth is unique in that we are the only mammals who have to rotate our heads to be born. This rotation occurs in the mid-pelvis and is often very stressful. Although it is often the shortest of the birth stages, there are many profound consequences associated with this stage. Mothers often experience more pain at this time and medications such as analgesia and epidurals are often administered during this stage. These interventions overwhelm the consciousness and physiology of the baby and disturb the sense of the connection with mother. Themes associated with this stage include:
• How we make decisions (‘which way do I go?)
• Our capacity or willingness to commit
• Our ability to trust our intuition and sense of purpose in life
• Our ability to orient ourselves to our environment and others
• The way in which we handle stress in relationship
• How we handle physical and emotional pain – do we numb out or become flooded with anxiety?

Class 3: Stage 3 – Pelvic Outlet Dynamics

In stage 1 of the birth journey the baby’s head is transverse in relation to the pelvic inlet. Through rotating in the mid pelvis the head is now in an anterior-posterior position in relation to the pelvic outlet. This new position brings with it new challenges and intense physical pressures. This is the final stage of the birth journey in which the baby is still inside the mother’s body. By this stage the baby is often exhausted. The oxygen supply may be compromised due to cord compression. As the baby moves towards the outside world impressions of what that world is like are heightened. Earlier prenatal imprinting around how we were welcomed into the womb (i.e. parental feelings when they discovered the pregnancy) may influence our sense of how we are likely to be welcomed as we emerge from the womb. Themes associated with this stage include:
• How we complete projects
• Our capacity for endurance under pressure – do we override our exhaustion or collapse?
• How we anticipate being greeted by others in social situations
• How we present ourselves to others
• Fear of the future

Module 4: Stage 4 – Restitution and Emergence

This includes from when the baby’s head and body emerge into the outside world, until the time the family go home (if it has been a hospital birth). This can be a very long time for babies who are placed in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. With home births this period extends to the time that any medical assistants leave the family to settle on their own. As we emerge from the womb we get our first impressions of the world and how it greets us. The change of environment is from one of a fluid environment of approximately 37 degrees centigrade, to one of air at about 18 to 20 degrees. We move from darkness into light, which is often harsh and penetrating, from the muffled sounds of the womb to the noise of the delivery room. For the first time baby and mother are separated. At the same time there maybe a number of invasive procedures as babies are cleaned, suctioned, weighed and often handled roughly as if they were objects rather than people. The umbilical cord is usually cut prematurely, before it has stopped pulsing, making the separation from mother even more shocking. How we are greeted at this stage informs us at a very deep level as to what kind of world we have entered. Themes associated with this stage include:
• Fear of invasion
• Separation anxiety
• Our capacity and willingness to trust intimacy
• Our sense of self-worth – am I good enough?
• Fear of being ‘seen’
• Whether or not we feel welcome by others

 

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