In 1999, a new dream was born in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology (PPN). The dreamer, Dr. Marti Glenn, had the vision and the commitment to our field to create a new graduate institute with the first doctoral degrees in prenatal and perinatal psychology. The dream was to provide an educational environment in which faculty and students could explore, examine, and expand upon the foundations of prenatal and perinatal psychology clinical findings and practice. I joined her vision and dream and together we birthed the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute with four new graduate degree programs in prenatal and perinatal psychology.
An integral part of this dream has been to support original doctoral research in prenatal and perinatal psychology. Our field has such a rich history of clinical work, yet is still young in terms of systematic research and published works. Our first student completed her doctoral research in 2004 and as of today, seven students have completed their doctoral research projects in prenatal and perinatal psychology.
I asked the APPPAH board and Dr. Lyman, the editor-in-chief, if I could be the guest editor of a special edition of JOPPPH to celebrate and reap the benefits of these first SBGI doctoral projects by inviting journal articles based on the doctoral research. I am pleased to present three of seven of the completed projects in this special edition.
In this special issue of the Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, we are fortunate to have articles from three distinguished authors in the field, Drs. Becky Hicks, Tara Blasco, and Christie Barrack. I commend both the students and faculty members of these projects for pioneering these new territories of research, both in terms of content and methodologies. These projects represent the broad range of research methodology and focuses within prenatal and perinatal psychology.
The Alchemical Dance of Mother and Infant: A Blueprint for CoCreative Dyadic Unity during the Prenatal and Perinatal Period by Dr. Becky Engler-Hicks is a brilliant ground-breaking theoretical research project that weaves a rich multidimensional metaphoric lens of relationship between mother and infant from latest science and ancient wisdoms exploring wholeness and relationship from the beginning of life as expressed through the cosmic dance. The journal article is likely to inspire you to read her entire theoretical exploration in her 300+ page dissertation.
Another dream in prenatal and perinatal psychology clinical practice was birthed in 1993, when the BEBA research clinic opened. Dr. Ray Castellino and I opened the clinic to develop, provide and research PPN oriented clinical work with infants and their families and it is still providing treatment to families today. Dr. Tara Blasco, a BEBA clinic clinician, is the first person to utilize the BEBA therapy videos for systematic research in her doctoral project, Prenatal and Perinatal Memories in Preverbal Children: Clinical Observations Using Videotape Examination. In her pioneering research, Dr. Blasco asks a very important question in our field, "Can trained observers accurately identify preverbal children's prenatal and perinatal experiences based on the children's behavior in a therapeutic setting?" If so, the implications would suggest that the selected children's behaviors may have a direct relationship to particular prenatal or perinatal experiences. I'll let you read her article to discover her findings.
The third article, by Dr. Christie Barrack, is based on her research project, A Journey of Love: The Influence of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology on Parent-Child Bonding. In her study she sought to better understand parents' experiences of bonding with their babies in utero and after birth, and to discover the relevance of a prenatal and perinatal psychology based bonding class in this process. Thus, a third important arena of PPN research, the examination of PPN oriented prenatal education, is explored in this research project. By utilizing a qualitative, phenomenological methodology, parents' own voice of their experiences, reflections on what they learned in class and how that influenced or informed them as new parents brings an aliveness to her research findings. Dr. Barrack's findings emphasize the delicate balance of PPN oriented information and sensitivity to potential stress that may bring to parents.
Although that concludes our special edition introduction, I also want to acknowledge and name the other doctoral research completed during the last three years by SBGI students:
Exclusive Breastfeeding: Does the Provision of Formula in the Hospital Affect Breastfeeding Duration and Transition? by Heather Nicole Thomsen, PhD.
An Exploration into the Vanishing Twin Syndrome and Its Possible Psychological Influence on the Surviving Twin: A Phenomenological Analysis of the Behaviors of a Three-Year-Old During Therapy by Nancy Greenfield, PhD.
Mothering Wholeness: Two Women's Experiences of Mothering Through the Lens of An Emerging New Paradigm by Carrie A. Contey, PhD.
Primiparas' Expectations of Childbirth: The Impact of Consciousness by Susan Highsmith, PhD.
I thank everyone, students, faculty, Dr. B.J. Lyman, SGBI PPN Chair, and especially SBGI President, Marti Glenn, who have all traversed the roads less traveled to bring us these doctoral research projects and the rich findings and implication they hold. Thank you.
JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.