Prenatal and birth memories: Working with your earliest experiences to help your life today by B.J. Lyman. 2007. Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Barbara Graduate Institute Publishing. 163 pp. ISBN 13: 978-0-9791636-0-9.
The stated aim of this workbook is to transform prenatal and perinatal psychology into a science of practice that will reliably aid students and clinicians and support those desiring to explore their own early memories. The workbook succeeds admirably in laying the foundations to accomplish this aim. It presents, in clear, concise language answers as to why one would want to explore prenatal and birth memories, goes on to describe how to accomplish this, and provides detailed descriptions of exercises to use in the exploration.
As a result, this workbook is a reliable tool for clinicians, a learning tool for students, and a guide for those intrepid individuals working on their own with the aid of the book. Cautions for individuals working on their own are provided throughout, along with encouragement to seek additional support when needed. Even those who have done extensive work with their own prenatal and birth memories will find themselves drawn into the exercises and exploring again, more deeply, personal material that still holds a “charge.”
Clinicians and students of prenatal and perinatal psychology will want this book on their shelves for frequent reference. Even those with years of experience will find hidden gems – perhaps in the chapters on combining music, art, photos, and even cognitive behavioral techniques with PPN work.
Dr. Lyman’s self-disclosure, throughout the book, lends a level of authenticity not often found in a work of this depth and broad application. As I read, I could hear her voice, conveying wisdom and respect for her readers, along with her practical suggestions.
The extensive historical questionnaire provided in the appendix provides clinicians who are not familiar with prenatal and birth work with a tool for gathering information that goes beyond the usual history-taking with clients. This questionnaire provides students with many clues as to what might be pertinent information to gather when working with a new client. And, for the individual working alone with the workbook, the questionnaire begins the process of thinking about one’s prenatal and birth experiences.
To convey the ultimate goal of this deep work, I would like to close this review with Dr. Lyman’s own words from the closing chapter of the workbook.
At this point what I want to see is what life is like when there are no unconscious or blocking memories at all. What is life like when the unconscious is conscious, do you suppose? In other words, what is life actually like when the body, mind, emotions, and spirit are in balance? Perhaps one day that way of being will be what we call normal. (p.129).
Review by Jeane Rhodes, PhD