Stress Matrix Paper by Ray Castellino

Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology Resource


More and more evidence suggests that most people experience shock one or more times prenatally, during, or shortly after birth. For this reason it is imperative that prenatal and birth therapists have an understanding of the mechanisms by which the psyche, nervous system, and body imprint shock and later recapitulate the experience with a series of 'shock affect' behaviors. In this article we will explore how an understanding of the Stress Matrix, and knowledge of the human nervous system, can support effective therapy for infants, children and adults who have experienced shock during these early formative months of life.

The Stress Matrix is a conceptual model that I find among the more useful therapeutic tools for assessing the degree of trauma and shock imprinting clients have experienced. Why Understand the Stress Matrix? As practitioners, we have all had experiences with clients where the information we are receiving does not add up. Sometimes a flag goes up while we are doing an intake or working with a new client. The energy of the situation may feel elusive, erratic, jumbled and fast. The information that we are receiving may not stack up in a way that allows our system to resonate with our client with a sense of knowingness. Such a feeling might raise any one of the following thoughts or feelings: What is going on here? I feel confusion. I'm not sure what I am looking at.

Something does not feel right here. I am not trusting the signals I'm getting from the client. This client is presenting in a way that seems just too smooth to be true. In these situations, if we ignore our feelings, our safety may be at stake. Our own safety is paramount, more important even than the safety of the client. This may sound strange. However, if we are not safe, the client will not be safe in our presence. If we attend to our own safety first, we create an environment in which our clients can also be safe. It is therefore imperative to have a structure that helps us create a safe environment. During my years of practice, I have found the Stress Matrix to be one of the most useful conceptual models to refer to when the above kind of flags appear.

Your Instructor

Ray Castellino
Ray Castellino

Raymond Castellino, DC (retired), RPP, RPE, RCST®, draws on over 50 years of experience as a natural health care practitioner, consultant and teacher. He is a pioneer in the field of Pre and Perinatal therapy and of using energetic and somatic approaches to facilitate attachment and bonding. His current practice focuses on the resolution of prenatal, birth and other early trauma and stress and developing teachable methods of supporting families and small groups of adults.

Dr. Castellino developed the Womb Surround Process Workshop for small groups of adults. He had discovered and developed clinical approaches and skill sets that carry over to family work with children and are applied in both Womb Surrounds, BEBA Family Sessions and in About Connections. As such BEBA, About Connections, the Womb Surround Process Workshops, Professional Training. Body into Being and Community outreach seminars and workshops constitute wings of integrated pre and peri-natal delivery and educational system.

These innovations include the Castellino 8 guiding Principles for small groups and families. These principles are cornerstones for the emergence of safety in babies and children in the context of relationships in their families.

He has developed a teachable method for working with families and small groups of adults as an energetic relational field. This innovation is a major game changer for facilitating families and adults in a relational social nervous system field. His work emphasizes harmonic resonance and co-regulated states while supporting individuation and differentiation at the same time. His work is collaborative in nature. Some of his primary collaborators are Mary Jackson, homebirth midwife, Tara Blasco, co-director of BEBA, and Anna Chitty, director of the Colorado School of Energy Studies.

Dr. Castellino is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences including the Association for Pre- & Peri-natal Psychology and Health, the American Polarity Therapy Association, the Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America, and others. He was a founding board member of the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children.He has been practicing and teaching in the healthcare field since 1970, and offering prenatal and birth therapy since 1993.(Read full curriculum vitae).

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