Karlton Terry’s therapeutic work with birth trauma
By Ilka Maria Thurmann
Translated by Pete Hetherington, 08.05.2005
1.) Introduction to Karlton Terry’s working methods: personal attitudes and techniques used
The time is ripe for Karlton Terry’s therapeutic work with birth trauma.
Internationally, Karlton Terry is one of the most highly recognized teachers and experienced therapists for pre- and perinatal psychology. He studied under and worked for more than 10 years with William Emerson, who is known as the pioneer of the pre- and perinatal psychology. Karlton Terry is one of the few certified trainers of Emerson’s work.
In the last few years this concise method of dissolving birth trauma, in its compactness new to us in Europe, has been introduced from America. So far this therapy has been taught in the last years in theory and with practical exercises only by William Emerson and Karlton Terry in Switzerland, where it is acknowledged as a medical specialized training. There is such an interest on the part of specialists concerned with pregnancy and birth that every course is offered in two parallel groups.
Due to the commitment of Dr. Ludwig Janus, President of the ISPPM (International Society of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine), this touching, very successful way of working therapeutically with pre- and perinatal trauma has arrived in Germany.
Karlton Terry introduces himself and his entire spectrum in seminars, baby therapy workshops with live demonstrations, courses in self experience of one’s own birth as well as a three-year training course (beginning in March 2006) in different locations in Germany.
It is not easy to describe this therapy method because there is nothing like it yet in Germany. (Harms, 2000) Karlton Terry’s therapeutic method uses accurate simulation to release traumatic birth experiences in babies and children, in order to make them ‘re-experiencable and releasable’ and thus heal the child’s trauma and provide it with new behavioural options.
Perhaps his work is so impressive and effective because it combines body therapy, psychotherapy and soul therapy. During a session and also in his groups he works on several levels at the same time. This principle applies to all his work whether with babies or with adults in self experience or training groups.
Karlton Terry understands how to first release traumatic birth experiences in people, in order to make them re-experiencable and to free the traumatic elements. And, at the same time, he supports the people in processing these traumas long after the birth and to develop new, appropriate behavioural patterns for themselves.
Karlton Terry’s therapeutic work is a combination of many different elements. Its basic premise plays a substantial role, being the basis which enables deep healing.
His personal attitude is distinguished by openness, respect and empathy for the person vis-à-vis.
A vital slogan for him is: Empathy heals! (Karlton Terry, 2005). The prerequisite for healing, even more important than techniques is that this empathy, and thus a ” heart connection”, is created to the client, to the baby and its family or to an entire group who at that moment are in a self experience process.
Looking at the application of his therapeutic techniques shows that in his meetings Karlton Terry makes use of special methods, which have been either enhanced or partly developed himself, such as palpation,’accurate simulation’, techniques of shock treatment and Repatterning, which takes years to master.
Palpation refers here to touching the body or exploring the energy field around the body, for example to get information about the skin tones. He can also feel energy blocks or places with inadequate energy, without touching the skin. This special sensitivity, mastered by many osteopaths or craniosacral therapists, enables a much more exact perception of parts of the body in which tensions or blocks are to be found, thus creating a kind of map of the course of the birth and birth trauma.
Accurate simulation describes above all actual hand positions, with which those places on the head are pinpointed and stimulated which were exposed to particular pressure at birth. It is a gentle, activating technique, which can re-animate shocks and traumatic impressions first occurring at birth so that they can be worked on therapeutically and released from the somatic and psychological system.
In his shock treatment the places are found through palpation, triggered by exact hand positions and then treated accordingly.
Karlton Terry speaks of a ‘shock pool’. With poly-traumatised people he assumes that beneath every birth trauma is one from the prenatal period and even deeper the impacts of conception.
Karlton Terry continues to research birth neurology, which is also of interest to midwives, paediatricians, psychiatrists and neurologists. Part of his method is to enable the creation of new neurological links through the intentional stimulation of the individual birth situations and the release of neurological densities which reduce consciousness.
These links are for example the prerequisite that, after the treatment, children are able to move in a way which before therapy was not possible despite intensive physiotherapy. Handicapped babies and children also profit from this treatment, because following treatments great progress can often be registered in their physiotherapy or ergo therapy.
Repatterning is the creation of a new, healing pattern. Following a session meeting or a self experience everyone can benefit from the healing process.
After the successful processing of traumatic birth elements, when the tensions have been released, the clients get the opportunity to experience again the difficult situation (e.g. being stuck during the birth) but this time the way it should have been (a smooth, easy passage free of fear and panic).
This offer, which is also conducted with even very small babies on the physical level, for example, is definitely an important key to healing, resulting in the extension of one’s own individual potential and gives adults and children alike new freedom of movement (e.g. free from fear) for their actions and behavioural patterns.
2.) Karlton Terry’s theoretical concepts concerning birth mode, birth trauma and their consequences
With regard to birth trauma and its psychological effects it is very important for Karlton Terry to include pregnancy and birth as a crystallization point of this very first period, as the middle of an hourglass. It is indispensable for him to incorporate the background situation of the pregnancy into his anamnesis and work.
According to experts who deal with pre-, peri- and postnatal psychology it is because of this physical reason, nearly every birth is traumatic and there are many others causes of traumata.
But independent of the time of the birth, all specialists in the field of pre-, peri- and postnatal psychology agree that most births contain traumatic elements for physical reasons,.
During human evolution humans developed the ability to walk upright and their brains increased in size rapidly, resulting in a discrepancy between the narrower hips of the women and the wider head of the baby. (Janus, 1993) With each strong contraction the pressure on the child’s head against the cervix, which is not yet completely open, can reach very high pressure. According to the experience of obstetrical nurses the danger of injury is even greater for premature babies with smaller heads since the brain is less protected because the bones of the cranium are thinner.
At no other time in life does the human body produce as much adrenalin as at the time of birth. Neither are there so many impacts on the brain as during the hours of birth. According to Karlton Terry these neurological processes are very important, because the prenate has 1 billion neurons, which are actively forming connections resulting in programming actions during the hours of birth. Such connections as the baby negotiates the pressures and transitions of birth create a template programming impressions and responses, which affect the brain and the baby’s behaviour. It is a kind of programming induced by the formative experience of birth which, like a template, influences and develops the brain and the behavioural patterns of the babies
The influence of the birth mode
From a psychological point of view complications at birth can be traumatic for completely different reasons.
Among these Karlton Terry includes forceps deliveries and the use of the vacuum extractor, the application of drugs or labour-forcing and labour-reducing medicines and every caesarean delivery, independent of their indication.
He assumes that every human intervention changes, influences or even interrupts the natural birth process. He is of the opinion drugs administered under the birth have a negative effect on the peri- and postnatal bonding between the mother and her newborn child and also on the breastfeeding and bonding relationship. If the baby comes anaesthetized or in an “energetical” or mental shock into the world, it is not able to bond positively as it cannot follow its instinctive bonding patterns. The psychological aspects of the bonding problems play a large role here because the dance between mother and child through the interventions under birth cannot be initiated naturally. (Cramer 1991) Possible consequences may include irritations of the babies or breastfeeding and sleeping problems.
Only a few of all hospital births take place without interventions, whereby Karlton Terry’s interpretation of interventions is very comprehensive. The reasons will not be discussed here but the effects and consequences for the child or for the mother are becoming evident to those who are oriented to the human connection rather than seduced by the amazing array of medical technologies. Terry says: “Be more human, if you do use techniques”. (Karlton Terry, 2005)
The dosage of every anaesthetic and each remedy-aiding restraint or introduction was computed in the past on the body weight of the mother. This is however not suitable for babies weighing approx. 3 kilos and the baby felt the effects because the placenta only slows down, but does not filter completely, the blood content. In modern-day obstetrics great efforts are being made to counteract these negative effects with more awareness of the dosage required.
In regressions with adults it is often impressive and, at the same time, harrowing how powerfully anaesthetics can affect the baby under the birth. Just as the baby is in the most strenuous, stress-intensive and psychologically formative situation of its entire life, the support of the maternal labour pains is missing, unexpectedly and, for the child, for no apparent reason. If the mother is under drugs, a paralysis for both the mother and the baby takes place during the birth struggle which stops, confuses, intoxicates and disorients all activity and foils the baby’s own efforts and any success. For the personality a momentous outcome: “No matter how hard I try, I cannot reach my goals on my own because that is my experience”. It is not surprising that such an experience of one’s own debility and powerlessness in this highly sensitive time can also negatively influence one’s own self-confidence.
The mother has great physical pain under the birth. The baby however has probably even more physical pain but it is invisible, as well as somatic, emotional and psychological pain, since its mother ‘disappears’ as a result of the medicine and the baby feels left alone. From regressions it is known that applying drugs can be very painful for the baby. Clients have described it as “it burns like fire” or “it shoots into my belly and my head so quickly that I’m afraid it’s going to burst”.
According to Karlton Terry, the impacts on future life patterns are influenced by the frequency and the exact timing of giving drugs during the birth process. He differentiates between birth phases and how often a medicament is given, for example in the second rotation phase or in the third stage of the birth and then makes the connection to difficult behavioural patterns, e.g. problems in the ability to orientate or present oneself. (compare the following chapter).
The psychological consequences of a forceps birth are reflected in later life patterns which correspond to one’s own birth. At the end of the birth, and thus often at end of one’s strength, help comes from outside, this is what one’s own personal experience has shown. For example this could be a person who loses energy (e.g. during an examination or a house relocation) and can not bring things to an end but who always needs another person (often a life partner, teacher or a coach) to finish things off. When the birth process trauma is reactivated later in therapy, even in the case of adults, the marks of the forceps can sometimes be seen in the face.
In Germany caesarean births now constitute 20 % of all hospital births. In the USA this figure is nearly 25 %. In Mexico, where Karlton Terry has helped to found a “Clinic for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Bonding”, it is over 60 % (in hospitals). In baby therapy he works with many children whose symptoms range from colic (unexplained frequent crying), ADS, substantial movement deficits to bonding disorders.
Many of his cases are documented on video as some successes would otherwise hardly be believed.
These impacts during birth remain unprocessed in the psyche, for example, whether they have felt supported by their mother or – through drugs or fear – have felt emotionally abandoned by her. The subjective experience, (e.g. whether one felt positively supported by the mother or deserted, perhaps due to anaesthetics or fear), is also formed by the birth experiences. This experience pattern (e.g. whenever I feel bad, I feel really deserted) reappears in difficult life situations without any understanding of the causes. Karlton Terry thinks, that the way people enter a new area with strangers (a new job, a new group, a lecture in an unknown building) or how they discover in their individual way their world may be compared to the subjective birth experience.
People develop strategies to enable them to deal with their traumatic experiences. In which birth stage or stages the strongest negative impact occurred frequently shows in typical action patterns or it can be recognized in their behaviour. It is interesting that, after dissolving their own birth traumas in therapy, adult clients change or drop their strategies or use them as one of many conscious choices because they are no longer necessary in the existing form.
Patterned behavior can be shown as constantly repeated recapitulations through avoidance behavioural patterns to strong compensatory abilities or automatic response systems which are not processed by the higher consciousness.
An example of this – a trauma during the rotation state can show in substantial orientation problems. The behavioural variant would show a recapitulation that a person who drives a car constantly loses his orientation. The avoiding person would try to drive with somebody else or find other ways of reaching his destination. The avoidant compensatory type would know his way around perfectly because he has noted or learnt every meter meticulously so that driving in the ‘wrong’ direction simply cannot occur.
2a.) The individual birth stages and their psychological effects, with different traumatic causes
The question arises, in which birth stage a trauma developed, how it can be recognized and which actual short and long-term effects are possible. It is particularly interesting, especially for all professionals, to find answers to these questions. The focus is not only on the psychological factors, such as the bonding quality, apathy or fears, shame or self-esteem, but also on physical characteristics, like pronounced hyper- or hypotonic muscle tones, hyper-excitability or strong asymmetries, like torticollis and certain cranial expressions.
Essentially, Karlton Terry differentiates between four stages of birth, which he studied under Emerson (who was accompanied by Franklyn Sills in the early days when these stages were first explored). These are stages (St.) 1a and 1b, 2a and 2b, 3a and 3b and 4.
In stage 1 the lie-side of the face appears at the start of the birth. The lie-side is the one which must bear the most and the strongest pressure in this transit phase. A specialist can recognise this by analysing posture and comparing the two sides of a face
In a trauma at stage 1a the cervix is still firmly closed and strong contractions press the child’s occiput and os pariatal against it. Even in adults this trauma can still be recognized optically by the profile of the forehead. In stage 1b the cervix opens, the cranium descends but the passage is stopped by the position of the sitz bones (ischial spines).
Emotional perinatal reaction patterns to a trauma in this phase can include rage, then depression or shame and lastly submission as a consequence of the enormous stress and the life-threatening situation for the child. These behavioural patterns and dramatic experiences can accompany these people their whole lives. Particularly in acute stress or transition situations it will be repeatedly and constantly updated.
On the psychological level personal identity problems are frequently found in people with the St.1 trauma. Besides fear, claustrophobia or extreme reactions to traffic back-ups or other situations calling for people to wait often have their origins in this stage.
The second stage describes the rotation of the child under the birth. 2a designates the beginning and 2b the end of the rotation. Here the child struggles with or is pushed into which direction to turn.
During this phase it is important to ascertain whether and how easily the child’s head passes through the maternal pelvis, which can have different (narrow or wide) forms.
A circular movement, like a corkscrew, or a movement back and forth, like a ‘zig-zag-parcours’, which Karlton Terry calls ‘zig-zag birth’, can also happen. For an expert these marks are discernible in the face and they remain a life long – unless the emotional, psychological and somatic adhesions can be released.
Psychologically a strong ambivalence and an inability to decide are typical symptoms of stage 2. Alternatively depending upon the recapitulation style of the person, dogmatism and narrow mindedness can manifest.
Unresolved stage 2-trauma leaves adults and children feeling constantly indecisive and quite desperate as they often do not know where they are heading and where to go in their life.
In the third stage the cranium is anterior or posterior, which a specialist can recognize by comparing the two halves of the face as well as posture.
With his sharp awareness Karlton Terry is able to reconstruct the exact course of birth on the basis of the facial expression, the body axis in profile and the body symmetries of head, shoulders and arms.
In stage 3a the transit occurs, but the head can not be seen yet. The body is squeezed at different points depending on the position itself and there is sometimes reduced oxygen because of umbilical cord compaction. The baby has already turned and its face is pressed either against the symphysis or against the spine and the coccyx.
This stage, like the metaphor that no light is to be seen at the end of the tunnel, is often described subjectively as hopelessness, submission and overwhelming tiredness.
If the birth is quick and there is a hold-up only in this phase, i.e. the head can be seen but the baby doesn’t come for a long time, it is a stage 3b trauma. This can be seen posterior. Sometimes the back of the baby’s head can be remarkably flat. It is very helpful if midwives are aware of these problems so that they can suggest optimal foetal position for the mother giving birth or they can recommend several meetings with an osteopath or baby therapist.
The psychological effects of stage 3b traumas are often connected to the ability to finish projects and to present oneself. How people feel when they enter a new space or a new situation (panicky, afraid, courageous, open), how they present themselves and whether they are able to follow things through with staying power and bring them to a successful conclusion. It is just in this stage of the birth that the babies are often at the end of their strength and fighting against exhaustion.
The stage 4 birth stage includes all trauma which take place immediately after the birth.
This could be cutting the umbilical cord too early so that it was felt by the child as pain, stabbing of heels to obtain blood, painful suction (of oral and nasal passages) or a handling which is too rough and inadequate for the newborn sensibility. A trauma often occurs if the separation from the mother is too long, which can cause a split in the close relationship. According to Karlton Terry the bonding (which is impossible under the effect of drugs), with all its effects on a good mother and child relationship occurs in this important phase immediately after the birth.
If one is dealing with the individual birth stages and their possible trauma with their accompanying impacts, it is logical that especially midwives and other professional groups look for preventive ways in practical birth assistance. There is still a lot to be done in this field, but interest is growing in finding a more sensitive ‘birth-aid’ i.e. in supporting the natural birth process by having empathy for what the baby is experiencing and by supporting the mother in trusting her intuition.
3.) Karlton Terry’s therapeutic work with birth trauma in practice
So far the background and theoretical concepts concerning the birth and the prenatal lifetime in Karlton Terry’s work have been described. It is necessary to understand these since they are the basis for his therapeutic work with trauma from the pre-, peri- and postnatal time. A profound understanding of these concepts is the prerequisite for successful therapy in which trauma are released, resulting in new and healthy patterns.
Immediately after a therapeutic work sequence, there is an integration process which is often extremely moving and impressive for the observers of a live demonstration. This integration process can be seen in the facial expression of the babies who may appear to be absent or in a trance for several minutes at a time. It looks like they are processing what they have experienced inwardly and Karlton Terry teaches that during this time new neural connections in the brain are being created.
Using different techniques and methods it is possible, at any age, to treat trauma from the prenatal lifetime and birth. That means that adults also have this opportunity.
This is particularly interesting for many professionals both personally and professionally. Accompanied by the therapist the re-experienced birth experience will in all probability change the personal attitude. Enriched by this experience both the empathy and the social authority increase while stress (i.e. around other births) decreases.
In Karlton Terry’s opinion, for the medical, psychological, remedial teaching and paedagogical fields which, to a great extent, are involved professionally with the consequences of birth trauma, this additional aspect offers an important key to problem solving, both theoretically and from their own personal experience.
As an additional and new therapeutic viewpoint available to those who have had their own birth experience, doors can open to an alleviation or removal of symptoms which, with other methods might possibly have taken a great deal of time.
At this point the writer would like to describe a case-study taken from her own practice:
A 7 year-old girl was suffering from strong, inexplicable fears which were brought on by two relatively minor everyday incidents. An empty drinks crate was taken from the family’s courtyard. About two months later a car radio was stolen from her parents’ car. This occupied the child incessantly and she was plagued by nightmares. The girl, until then shy, but fun-loving, increasingly withdrew and began to show many different fears.
A common feature of the situations causing the fears, from the perinatal viewpoint, was evidently the forcible removal of a relatively trivial object from a closed system.
When I asked the mother whether the child had been born by caesarean she was completely taken aback by the question and burst into tears. She said that in her pregnancy she had been diagnosed accidentally as having cancer (Morbus Hodgkin), and that it had been unclear whether she would survive. Her child was delivered by caesarean in the 36th week so that the mother could begin the life-saving chemotherapy.
Within three meetings the girl’s birth trauma could be processed and her fears disappeared.
However, processing one’s own birth or prenatal trauma has another aspect which is particularly pertinent to those who in their professional lives are permanently involved in accompanying pregnant women, premature births and women under birth.
The stress level can be reduced greatly as soon as one’s own birth has been processed and potential traumatic elements have been solved. Once professional people have discovered and processed their own birth trauma, they don’t go into their own stress while working. They are no longer affected by their own mentally stressful birth situation and no longer placed in a mental state of shock. This allows them to work in a much more relaxed, conscious and empathic manner.
During the postpartum support in the childbed, well-trained, conscious and sensitive professionals can already give important recommendations in order to prevent psychological problems or development delays.
It would be desirable if doctors felt more committed to the practical application of pre-, peri- and postnatal psychology, since they would then have an exceptionally wide range of potential positive influence at hand.
With adults it is possible with the method of regression-therapy to process the psychological aspects of a trauma. Feelings of being constricted or hopelessness are felt mentally and sometimes even physically. In this process the clients are not touched and there is no physical stimulation.
Bach-Flowers-therapy can be recommended as a therapy support in every case. It is an additional alternative if used during pregnancy and under birth in order to prevent and later to heal trauma. After the birth the appropriate remedy helps the mother and her newborn child to regenerate more rapidly, as well as when processing traumatic situations. (Thurmann, 2005)
Both above-mentioned methods, when used in adult therapy, require the spoken word or intuitive body contact. The clients feel and experience in the regression their own birth or prenatal experiences, in which they can feel their sentiments and describe them verbally. There are also body therapy methods, where clients are led into a regression process, and these can sometimes be used with babies.
Karlton Terry’s principles however apply to adults and children equally. Following exact observation and detailed anamnesis a setting is created (i.e. like a birth-canal or a uterus) in order to experience and work therapeutically in a secure situation on traumatic aspects of one’s own birth again – this time however with empathy and competence and ending with a positive experience.
An important aspect in Karlton Terry’s work is the ‘repatterning’, which often is the end of the session. This forms a new curative pattern, which creates millions of new or different connections between neurons and an expansion of the activity patterns and alternatives.
3a.) The treatment of babies with birth trauma
It is particularly positive for newborn babies and infants to work wherever possible therapeutically with birth traumas from the earliest stages in such a way that negative consequences can be avoided and development delays prevented. Karlton Terry shares this wish with many experts. The earlier parents can avail themselves of such a special offer, the more the children will benefit. It would be very useful and positive to start with this, when called for, in the first weeks of life.
There are several reasons for this. Foreseeable consequences of a difficult birth (long lasting crying or breastfeeding problems) can be treated at the outset or following the first signs indicating these. The negative effects could be resolved in baby therapy thus preventing development retardations and their consequences.
Conversely it is an important argument that very few sessions are needed when therapeutic work with birth trauma can be started early.
Only someone who knows how much the babies and children affected sometimes suffer and who can see how big a difference a single session can make is able to appreciate the value of this. Example of a baby therapy conducted by Karlton Terry in Bad Vilbel in February 2005:
The baby, a 4 month-old boy, was not able to relax. He cried excessively, slept very lightly and rarely more than 20 minutes during the day and at night one hour’s sleep without an interruption was usual. This had been going on since birth and both the parents and the 4 year-old sister were suffering as much as the baby from lack of sleep and these crying attacks.
After only one session, which was recorded on video and then discussed in detail, the boy slept for 26 hours and within only two weeks he found a healthy, beneficial sleeping rhythm and the crying attacks also stopped completely.
So far Karlton Terry’s wish for rapid treatment has come up against obstacles.
Specialists from the fields of obstetrics and, later, paediatricians still treat the physical and mental effects of birth trauma mostly according to symptoms.
In general this treatment does not take into account the traumatic aspects of the prenatal lifetime or the actual birth. If this were the case, the inclusion of this additional information would most probably result in a different, supplementary and more effective method of treatment Karlton Terry’s specialised courses, (including live demonstrations of his therapeutic work with babies with birth trauma and the subsequent analysis and evaluation) offer guidelines for an increased awareness to this topic.
This pre- and perinatal aspect would extend the professional viewpoint of specialists from completely different fields. The babies affected and their parents would benefit from the knowledge of the doctors, midwives, the nurses in the clinics as well as, in the familiar surroundings of the patient’s home, paediatricians, naturopaths, physiotherapists and ergo therapists.
Craniosacral therapists and osteopaths can also extend their knowledge of the physical effects of birth on the child’s whole body, especially on the skull of the child, and of the mental and psychological dimensions. The details of the individual birth phases with their counterparts on the psychological level also represent a meaningful addition.
One difficulty is the fact that there are very few baby therapists who stress the aspect of birth trauma as the focal point of their work.
Behavioural therapy-oriented “consulting hours for cry-babies” concentrates on the positive changes in the effects of a potential trauma, caused during the pregnancy or in the birth situation itself. Breastfeeding and bonding problems, common after a birth with traumatic elements, can only be entirely resolved when the status of being born plays a more important role in the anamnesis.
Karlton Terry is of the opinion that every child and his parents after the birth should be prepared to accept the offer of a prophylactic session which is available to all parents. Even from a prophylactic point of view this measure would save the health care system a lot of money.Karlton Terry’s basic attitude is marked by openness, respect and empathy.
He urges the therapists not to pursue preconceived solutions even if the birth anamnesis seems to point clearly in that direction but to remain open for what the baby has to tell him in its own way. This includes listening with empathy and refraining from ones own interpretations, and not just relying on hasty solutions and patent remedies.
Karlton Terry remains open for what the baby has to tell in his own way. He differentiates between various reasons and kinds of crying, which differ particularly in tone and recruitment of certain body muscles as well as movement patterns. Crying to express a need (e.g. food, closeness, comfort and sleep) sounds quite different from crying, which expresses feelings such as unresolved memories and pain wanted to be shared. Terry’s most important appreciation of William Emerson’s expression for the work with birth traumas is ‘trauma crying’. It sounds desperate, scared, frightened, angry or full of panic and it can be hard for parents and other adult to bear.
Prof. Stuart Campbell says that, using 3-D ultrasound images, it is possible, even in the womb, to recognise from the facial expression of the unborn child whether the child is registering physical pain or is feeling unwell. (Campbell, 2005)
Empathy and respect are further keys in Karlton Terry’s baby therapy. In the therapy process it is necessary to request, nonverbally, the permission of the child to work with it and also to pay attention to one’s own reactivated emotions, so that healing can take place.
In his baby therapy Karlton Terry works not only with the baby, but, by necessity, with the entire family. His approach in baby therapy is to put the baby in a protected area, in which the parents also feel secure, and then let the baby ‘tell’ whereby and to listen with empathy, the baby thus using his own possibilities. The baby expresses itself via its movements, body tones, its eyes and behaviour, crying (e.g. matching the story told by the parents).
The child expresses itself in its own way, such as through moving its limbs and also by its facial expression or the tension in its body. Karlton Terry, an attentive observer, sees the baby’s whole repertoire and relates this to the parents’ description of the birth.
He observes in such GREAT DETAIL what happens that even specialists are amazed. For example it is not only the movement itself he notices (‘the baby pedals strongly’) but the differentiated form. For example the baby pedals only with the right foot stretched, whereas the left leg is tightened when pedalling and the left fist is clenched, or the centre of the movement lies near the solar plexus, while the neck musculature seems to be shortened by this movement and the child sounds as if it is in need of air.
While he gets in touch with the baby and concentrates in order to be prepared for the baby’s story, he sets the first quiet impulses and waits to see what will happen. He says that there are well over 500 decisions he must make in just one hour, i.e. whether and when and, above all, where and how he sets the impulses which will cause a positive change.
A rhythm often develops in the course of the sessions, which can be compared to a wave. Frequently the children’s reactions undergo an increase in intensity, i.e. it can come to an excited ‘trauma-crying, which ebbs after a while and leaves the child in a completely changed, relaxed condition. This change can be seen in the facial expression and after such sessions the children, especially “delayed” children, often show leaps in their development, which previously seemed almost inconceivable.
It is particularly important to support and encourage parents to listen to their children’s despair and other emotional communications and not turn away (again) or prevent crying with vehemence or give the breast or bottle when the baby is not actually hungry. If parents calm down it has a positive effect on the therapy process. Therefore the other part of Terry’s attention is directed at parents and their story.
If a baby sleeps during the meeting, he sometimes takes the opportunity to work with the parents and support them. Even during this period he observes the baby sleeping and notices its movements and reactions.
Karlton Terry works with babies like a film director re-creating, among many other elements, their birth. In the case of birth complications, birth stoppage, caesarean or an irritation during the rotation phase, he simulates the birth, for example, by acting out a birth ‘sequel’ free of complications, so that they have the opportunity to manage difficult passages on their own.
For a caesarean baby he creates for example a spontaneous birth situation, in which the child is encouraged to move through a tunnel (formed by his hands) or in the case of small children through a tunnel of cushions. By these movements, which correspond to the natural genetic birth program of every human, new nerve connections are created in the brain, so says Karlton Terry.
Following this a search process or a new linking process begins which can be clearly observed in the children. They mostly remain without any movement; their eyes seem staring into the distance for minutes at a time. After this time the children are clearly changed, they are much more present, clear and more attentive and the atmosphere is much more relaxed. Depending on the therapy progress a discussion with the parents follows or another ‘passage’ takes place.
3b.) Karlton Terry’s therapeutic work with adults
Karlton Terry offers his therapeutic birth work for adults in groups in which, besides the theoretical part, everyone has the chance to re-live, his own birth process.
The fundamental attitude of openness, respect and empathy also applies to Karlton Terry’s therapeutic work with adults. For him it is a personal issue and a necessary precondition to create a safe place in which participants feel so safe and supported that they can become completely involved in their own birth process without fear. This ‘container’ is also formed for the individual regressions by the group as a whole, which accompanies the person in question with respect and empathy.
Just as in baby therapy the birth is re-experienced. It is a conscious re-production of the original birth. With the use of e.g. large cushions and adult participants, who support these cushions from behind, Karlton Terry creates a birth situation appropriate to the individual personal history. For example, a uterus is created, where the participant can lay down or a birth channel made by standing, squatting or kneeling adults, who form a tunnel in which the birth is re-produced.
With exercises which stimulate the body memory, participants learn at the beginning to become aware of their own movement impulses and to follow these.
As soon as their own regression begins, the person re-experiences the scene of their own birth in all its facets. The old feelings of despair are noticeable just like the fear, ecstasy and rage.
Anaesthetics can have substantial effects on both the mother and the child under the birth. It can also come to internal paralysis or solidification or intense physical defence reactions. There can also be a feeling of numbness in the limbs or an internal freezing, absence or torpor. Later reactions are also conceivable. A neurodermitis patient reported that after her regression, in which she felt the effects of a drug very strongly and unpleasantly, within one day her skin showed a dramatic (and sustained) improvement.
Through this therapeutic process, a forceps or vacuum extraction birth can also be re-experienced by the participants and the impact sites on the cranium can also be seen, even decades after the birth.
If the birth scene is at the end everyone gets a ‘nest’, a good place in the world to be, and also two participants who accompany this inner ‘arriving’ with their full attention and empathy. This part is already a first ‘repatterning’, a new pattern of welcoming which heals old wounds.
The birth scene can also be repeated under ‘ideal conditions ‘, i.e. as it could have been. For example a birth with a long, painful birth stoppage, a channel is formed a second time through which one comes easily and smoothly into life.
This ‘repatterning’ has a very deep, positive effect on the entire personality and Karlton Terry actually believes that the neurology of the brain changes in a positive direction. It has the strength to create new behaviour patterns for daily life and also alternative action systems which had previously been desirable but not realistic.
In this re-experience the participant can be resourced and empowered unlike the original birth when as a baby she was helpless and vulnerable. Through the empathic attitude of the participants, but mainly through the successful birth process, the participants can discover and develop their own resources.
Karlton Terry’s heart-warming humanity and his empathy with the class participants make them feel deeply understood and seen. Healing can thus take place after these deep regressions at all levels. The body relaxes after the strenuous birth process, the psychological pain of rejection or loneliness can be processed and the soul finds its way into life.
This self experience changes everyone. The perception of many professional people will expand greatly and, besides the personal benefit gained, this also has positive and far-reaching consequences for future generations of babies. Sensitized by their own regression, changes in their working methods will occur automatically.
4.) Who is Karlton Terry: His Development and his professional background
Karlton Terry studied Art and Psychology at the University of Colorado and then for twenty years had a successful career as an independent business man.
His life took a new turn as a result of a serious accident. He gave up his profession and took a new path which led him to study holistic healing methods and natural medicine and came in contact with his own formative influences.
Through meditation and intensive experience in Nature a deep desire awoke in him to find his roots, to search for the origin of life and, above all, for the impacts which he and every person in his own way, has experienced on his path through his prenatal lifetime and birth.
The first birth regressions under William Emerson made a profound impression on him. He experienced his own birth (as well as an immediate and spontaneous improvement in his eyesight) and he felt and understood to what extent a person’s whole life is influenced by this birth experience and the pregnancy.
He studied the Physiology and Psychology of the birth experience as well as embryology, and his special interest is still the neurological processes affecting the baby’s brain during the birth situation.
He created the Consulate Healing Center, a Naturopathic and Holistic facility with over 40 practitioners of diverse practices such as psychotherapy, homeopathy, chiropractic, Rolfing, acupuncture, massage, etc.
Under Graham Farrant Terry learned the background to the earliest formative stages, and for 10 years was a student of William Emerson, who is regarded as the pioneer of pre- and perinatal psychology. Today Karlton Terry is internationally one of the most highly recognized teachers and experienced therapists of pre- and perinatal psychology.
He offers his own training courses and self-experience courses (see next chapter), and he regularly presents his therapeutic work with babies and their families in live demonstrations.
5.) Karlton Terry’s offers: target groups and description of his Seminars, Workshops, training courses and self- experience groups
There are different ways to get to know the many different aspects of his working methods.
From the very first formative moments of genesis, his therapeutic work with birth and prenatal trauma covers a wide range of topics, from baby therapy (which he shows, demonstrates on camera and explains in detail), to training courses which he offers so others can learn this work in theory and practice.
He also lectures on selected topics relating to pre- and perinatal psychology and mini-workshops to different audiences as an introduction to his therapeutic concepts.
In his baby-therapy workshops he shows his working methods with babies. In a live demonstration he works with a baby and all its family, (see above).
For the workshop participant, whether baby therapists themselves or interested for other reasons, it is often very moving to see how subtle and multi-faceted, how empathic and healing and, above all, how quickly Karlton Terry’s work is effective, leaving many participants with a long-lasting impression.
The therapeutic work with the birth trauma is another component of his offer. Karlton Terry describes this self-experience workshop as an introduction (Introduction-Course). This runs for three days and comprises theory, e.g. about the lie-side of ones own birth or the physiology and psychology of birth, in which he presents the difficult material simply and understandably, even for laymen. In practical exercises the participants have the opportunity to describe and experience aspects of their own birth. In intensive regressions, which take place in a well-protected framework, key experiences of ones own traumatic birth can be made and then integrated.
With his Foundation Course Karlton Terry is now also offering a three-year training course in Germany, which will take place twice a year for six days each. The probable location for the courses is Münster (Info-Tel.: I.-M. Thurmann, 06101 – 87 879).
In Switzerland Foundation Courses have been offered for some years, mostly by William Emerson and Karlton Terry together. The next course in Switzerland, which will be led by Karlton Terry alone, begins in November 2006 (Info: F. Renggli, Tel.: 0041-61-271 62 32).
Karlton Terry is a pioneer in the area of the earliest human impacts. In his TAOS-seminars (Taos is a place in New Mexico, USA) dealing particularly with this theme he includes conception, with all its psychological details, in the healing and self-experience process of the groups.
In a four seminar cycle he offers the journey of the sperm and the egg as the first and second part. Conception is the third and the journey into genes the fourth part. An advanced “Embodiment” class, Lessons from the Hourglass, will focus on the integration of this profound experience and keeping one’s own spiritual contact in the challenges of everyday life. Since October 2004 these seminars have taken place annually in Münster (Info: M. Overdick, Tel: 0251-260 225), and they have been offered regularly for some years in Switzerland (Info-Tel.: Markus Fischer, IBP, 0041-(0)52-212 3430) and, of course in Taos, New Mexico (Info-Tel.: Tia Leftin, 001-303-832 1117).
Who will benefit from these offers ?
The seminar is suitable for people from many professional groups who work with pregnant women, mothers, babies or children, particularly paediatricians since, following the birth, they accompany the babies continuously and over a long period. A sensitization for the many possible consequences of traumatic aspects of birth would have particularly positive effects.
Gynaecologists, midwives, breastfeeding-advisers, psychologists, psychoanalysts, nurses, psychotherapists, osteopaths or craniosacral therapists, remedial teachers, or physiotherapists and ergo therapists are also included in the circle of professional people who can benefit from the specialised knowledge and the self experience.
A change in perspective resulting from the self experience of their own birth would be very interesting for many professionals and enriching both professionally’ and personally.
6.) Discussion: What makes this work so special?
Though he is not a psychologist or a doctor, Karlton Terry’s work is body therapy, psychotherapy and soul therapy in one!
The body-therapeutic re-experiencing and releasing of trauma and the subsequent processing is the prerequisite for the reorganization. The healing also takes place however through verbal, physical and mental contact and particularly by giving emotions and the trauma room to develop.
His clients, whether in individual work with babies or group work with adults, are allowed to ‘be’ and whatever happens, there is well-meaning acceptance and empathy.
In particular with babies it is evident how it benefits them to be listened to and if the baby “tells” its own, often traumatic, birth story and the story, often in the form of crying, is not prevented with the pacifier or other things. It is equally beneficial if they are accompanied during this process neutrally but affectionately.
It is just as important that a therapist like Karlton Terry remains open, and does not immediately forward his own solutions or impose these on the baby and the family. Many of his movement impulses are like invitations, which the child can follow or not.
This is a very moving experience for everybody who has seen these processes in a baby therapy seminar with live demonstrations or in their own birth regressions since everyone has their own birth history, which is touched on in the meetings or which is made visible to the other group participants.
In group work with adults the repeating of trauma in a well-protected space on the physical level is the prerequisite for the healing process. It is due to Karlton Terry’s educational-didactic ability to explain his theories so understandably that they are comprehensible for the participants. The participants sense that he teaches “from the heart”, and they can absorb the new information subconsciously on a physical level.
The changes in his clients and participants are profound and permanent since they can be understood and processed on all levels.
Many life patterns and disorders or constantly recurring existence-threatening crises often make sense only when seen from a wider standpoint. In these cases healing is required on a far deeper level, for example in the realm of conception which, according to Karlton Terry and other experts, is the basis of prenatal life.
Karlton Terry’s work in all these groups and in single therapy is perhaps so deeply impressive and unique because here ‘healing is taken from the very beginning’ can be taken literally. Specialists such as William Emerson, Dr. Ludwig Janus, Dr. Franz Renggli, Dr. Peter Schindler or Dipl.-Psych. Joachim Lichtenberg are in agreement on this.
Besides the well-based specialized knowledge gained, within a short time an atmosphere develops in the groups of deep respect for life and its origins.
With this knowledge all professionals can prevent a great deal of suffering by taking immediate action, showing accurate empathy during birth, by professional interventions or by recommending trained baby therapists and thus avoiding problems at a later date.