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How Epigenetics, Polyvagal Theory, Neuroscience and
Attachment Theory are Changing Mental Health Practices 

Below is an excerpt of Dr. Marti Glenn’s acceptance speech when she recently received the Thomas Verny Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health.

In the next few minutes I want to share with you the essence of four of the theories that are creating paradigm shifts in our culture and giving us scientific evidence of the most effective methods for our clinical work in mental health.  As I’ve studied and applied these four distinct fields I was fascinated to discover that the take home message for us in psychology is the same from each discipline! 

For the complete text of this article, go to The Science Behind Effective Clinical Practices.

Integrating New Paradigms from Epigenetics, Pre- and Perinatal Psychology, Attachment Theory and Neuroscience into Clinical Practice with Adult Clients

Marti Glenn, PhD and Robin Cappon, PhD

Marti Glenn, PhD, MFT, is Clinical Director of Quest Institute, offering intensive retreats to help adults heal early developmental trauma. She is founding President of Santa Barbara Graduate Institute known for its MA and PhD degrees in prenatal, perinatal, somatic and clinical psychology. A pioneering psychotherapist and trainer for over 30 years, she is a frequent speaker at conferences worldwide. <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

Robin Cappon, PhD, MFT is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in attachment disorders, relationship issues and parenting concerns from the lens of neurophysiology. She is a clinical leader at Quest Institute specializing in working with young adults. Her research has explored the psychological imprints on infants born of anxious mothers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

Abstract: The burgeoning research in attachment theory, affective neuroscience and polyvagal theory, epigenetics and trauma treatment has given new directions for the practice of psychotherapy. The authors offer essential fundamentals for the integration of these new principles into clinical practice with individuals and families from pre-conception through adulthood.  Within attachment theory, affective neuroscience and the clinician as key instrument in the healing process, the authors delineate six phases of psychotherapy, including specific principles and practices for each phase.

For the complete article, go to New Paradigms for Clinical Practice.

Investing in Human Potential From the Beginning of Life:
Key to Maximizing Human Capital

2009 - Position Paper by Wendy Anne McCarty, PhD and Marti Glenn, PhD.

ABSTRACT: Economic analysis of human capital–the abilities and skills a person brings to community and work force–suggests that investing in early childhood programs is much more cost-effective than dollars spent intervening later in life. Even with increasing knowledge of the importance of early intervention programs, there still appears to be a mental divide separating the prenatal and birth period and infancy. Programs that begin during infancy or later may not address the fundamental origins of the increasing issues we face regarding our children. The key to reverse this cascade of poor outcomes and to dramatically improve human capital and human potential is to bring innovative and comprehensive efforts to support families during the primary period of human development–pre-conception through baby’s first postnatal year. This paper introduces 12 guiding principles to align the re-visioning and strategic planning for funding, policy-making, research, professional education and training, and parenting practices. First action steps to maximize human potential and human capital from a prenatal and perinatal psychology perspective are addressed.

For the complete article, please contact our office.


Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology:

Vital Foundations of Body Psychotherapy

Marti Glenn, PhD: Santa Barbara, CA

Marti Glenn, Ph.D., is the Clinical Director of Quest Institute, offering intensive retreats to help adults heal early developmental trauma. She is founding President of the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, the first university to offer post-graduate degrees specializing in prenatal, perinatal psychology as well as somatic psychology. A pioneering psychotherapist and educator for over 30 years, she integrates affective neuroscience with attachment theory, early development, and trauma - in her work as trainer, and presenter. She often presents at the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA and is a frequent speaker at worldwide conferences. Interestingly, she also co-produced the broadcast documentary, Trauma, Brain, and Relationship: Helping Children Heal, and has appeared in such documentary films as What Babies Want; What Babies Know; Reducing Infant Mortality and Improving the Health of Babies.

Research discoveries from diverse fields over the past two decades have increasingly impacted the clinical principles for effective Body Psychotherapy. Many have provided scientific evidence for the efficacy of our current practices; some are pointing the way to new principles for our art and craft. This research is converging to suggest new paradigms regarding our earliest human development and what it takes to raise relational, creative and resilient adults and how healing can occur throughout the lifespan. Research and clinical experience from seemingly disparate fields of epigenetics, developmental psychology, affective neuroscience and brain imaging studies, polyvagal theory, attachment theory, and prevention and healing of trauma are providing us new ways of considering mental and physical health. Particularly highlighted is the quality of the infant-caregiver relationship and its life-long impact on neurological development, self-regulation, the creation of mental models and the capacity for relationship. (Bowlby, 1969, 1988; Ainsworth, 1985; Beebe & Lachmann, 2002; Fonagy & Target, 1997; Fonagy et al., 2002; Lyons-Ruth & Jacobovitz, 1999; Perry, 1999; Porges, 2011; Schore, 1994, 2003, 2012; Siegel, 2012a, 2012b; Stern, 2004; Tronick, 2007). It is important to note that we never want to place blame on parents or the medical system, in general. Our goal is to educate and assist in the healing process, given what we know now.

Increasingly, research and clinical practice are looking even earlier than post birth and infancy for the foundations of health and dis-ease and for practices to prevent and heal maladies throughout life. Much of this research demonstrates that our prenatal experiences lay the foundation for brain development and mental health or illness (Kaplan, Evans, & Monk, 2007; Lupien et al., 2009; O’Connor et al., 2003; O’Connor et al., 2005; Shonkoff, Boyce, & McEwen, 2009; Talge, Neal, & Glover, 2007; Van den Bergh & Marcoen, 2004; Van den Bergh et al., 2008). It is also well established that as humans we are particularly vulnerable to a broad range of effects during the prenatal period (Nathanielsz, 1999; Thomson, 2007; Van den Bergh et al., 2005; Verny & Weintraub, 2002). Prenatal and perinatal psychology has been creating and coalescing research and clinical practice in this arena for decades. Given that, in Body Psychotherapy, we know that the body records – consciously or unconsciously – every experience and that this experience forms the foundation for later development, it follows that prenatal and perinatal psychology provides a significant foundation for the practice of Body Psychotherapy (Juhan, 2003; Rand & Caldwell, 2004).

This chapter presents a cursory look and invites further exploration of the effects of our earliest development, including relationships and environment, with the hope that it might enhance your clinical perspective of the multi-faceted and trans-generational influences and provide support for new avenues of healing. In addition, it is imperative that, as clinicians, we continue our own healing process and apply these principles first to ourselves and then to our clients.

For the complete text, go to Please contact our office.


Love Is Not Enough:

How Loving Parents Can (Inadvertently) Produce Vulnerable Kids

By Marti Glenn, PhD

Part 1: Why love alone doesn't ensure resilient and emotionally intelligent children

How can a child who is loved and well cared for not have a good enough parenting experience and be at risk for developmental problems that may affect them physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually?

Part 2: Tips for creating and fostering a secure attachment in your growing child

Part 3: Red flags that signal a need for professional help

For this article, go to Love is Not Enough.