Understanding our earliest relationship experiences from the baby’s point of view and how these experiences set in motion life patterns has been the intense study of the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology for over 40 years. In 1983, the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology coalesced with the creation of the Association For Prenatal And Perinatal Psychology And Health (APPPAH).
Santa Barbara Graduate Institute (SBGI)
Dr. Marti Glenn,
Founding President, SBGI
Santa Barbara Graduate Institute opened in 2000, offering the first Masters and Doctoral Degrees in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology (PPN). Marti Glenn, PhD, Founding President, and Wendy Anne McCarty, PhD, Founding Chair, co-authored the initial six PPN degree programs and curriculum. Dr. McCarty taught several of the PPN graduate courses during the 12 years the school was open.
Drs. Glenn and McCarty believed graduate level education was the next important step in developing the emerging field of prenatal and perinatal psychology. Scholarly studies and dialogue, original research, and training in specialized PPN therapeutic skills were needed to prepare professionals to work with families during the prenatal and perinatal period, as well as to identify and treat early experience-related issues in all ages—children, adolescents, and adults.
Dr. Wendy Anne McCarty,
Founding Chair, SBGI
As they began to teach PPN graduate students, they saw a need for new early development theories/models based upon PPN clinical understandings. PPN findings clearly expanded the landscape of early development from the current mainstream theories and models, to include a multidimensional understanding of babies’ capacities and early human experience.
The field of PPN had emerged primarily from clinical work with babies, children and adults valuing the baby’s point of view. A tremendous wealth of understanding about the origins of very early trauma, unmet needs, compromised neurodevelopment, and relationship issues, and how to work those issues had been harvested.
Yet PPN’s clinical findings were yet to be utilized to create new “normal” early development models and theories about who babies are and the expanded landscape of early development though the PPN lens.
To this end, Dr. McCarty received an academic grant and developed her Integrated Model of Early Development, a consciousness-based multidimensional understanding of early development that could hold the PPN findings and include mainstream perspectives as well. This new model was published in Welcoming Consciousness: Supporting Babies Wholeness from the Beginning of Life (2004, 2009, 2012) and became a core text for PPN courses.
A second need was identified while teaching the PPN curriculum and listening to students grappling with the wide range of focuses, findings, and approaches found within the prenatal and perinatal psychology community. Students would ask, “Where is there a clear articulation of core principles to guide professionals and families that arise from the decades of PPN–oriented knowledge and understanding?”
Dr. McCarty had admired the attachment community’s set of core principles that served as a vital beacon for attachment research, theory, and professional and parenting practice. Parents, professionals, and community programs could use these to articulate and develop their care and programs. Parents could choose professionals who supported the attachment principles and values.
Other organizations had effective proclamations as well for their guiding principles, values, and standard of care, such as Baby-Friendly and Mother-Friendly Care Initiatives. Dr. McCarty and Dr. Glenn saw the importance for the prenatal and perinatal psychology community to develop guiding principles and thus initiated another academic grant project for this purpose.