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Body-Centered Hypnosis for Childbirth

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the Peterson Model different from other childbirth methods?

The model is unique in two ways...


It is based on psychological theory that supports the development of the individual woman. It is a model that facilitates a woman's growth through coping with pregnancy and labor and becoming a mother. The goal is self-discovery, development and solidifying a woman's self esteem through this process. It does not presume a particular outcome, but supports a woman to face the reality of coping with birth and life. The model is both broad and deep, in order to encompass the full spectrum of women's varying experiences and needs. It is an individualized approach.


It is a preventative model that can help to reduce risk in childbirth. Women have an opportunity in the birth counselor interview to not only express their anxieties, but to address them before the labor ensues. This provides a framework to truly handle fear and anxiety, including previous traumatic childbirth experience, lessening the impact of distress when labor occurs.

How does this kind of approach affect childbirth outcome?

Research supports the fact that when women are able to address anxieties specific to their situations, it reduces stress in the body. Because these anxieties have been realized and a woman has the opportunity to resolve certain issues prenatally, her experience of labor is generally smoother and medical outcomes are better. If there is a complication, she is more likely to be able to cope with it, reducing physical stress for her and her baby during labor.

How does this model support birthing women?

The philosophy of the model accepts women where they are in their lives and facilitates their development, whatever their choices. As such, it supports women through the process of giving birth, allowing them to discover their needs and address them in the context of childbirth. It does not dictate how to give birth. This allows a practitioner to encompasses the full range of venues using this model; from hospital, birthing center to home birth. This model can be utilized effectively with natural, medicated or surgical intervention as necessary.

How does this model support families?

Women are invited to include their partners in the simulated contraction work before labor and may be invited into the postpartum session. This supports the couples relationship as they move into the future together. A postpartum session also assesses risk for postpartum depression and need for appropriate referral

What is the difference between body-centered hypnosis and hypnobirth or other forms of hypnosis for childbirth?

Body-Centered Hypnosis for Childbirth, developed by Dr. Gayle Peterson, is based on somatic psychology theory and Ericksonian hypnosis. It helps an individual woman adapt, incorporate and cope with the natural, healthy pain of labor, while other dissociative hypnosis techniques work to separate a woman from pain. Body-Centered preparation is also individualized, which allows for its greater efficacy. It is the only childbirth preparation model that deals with an individual women's needs and offers specialized preparation for her unique life history in just four individualized sessions.

How much time should I plan to commit to the training?

Total time that should be allotted is approximately 48 hours, including assignments and required viewing of videos and required reading. (Most students take less time, closer to 40 hours.) This is the full certification track.

Module One: Core Training

with certification/assignments= approximately 20 hours

Modules Two and Three: Advanced Techniques Training

With certification/assignments= approximately 28 hours

What if I want to take the course without certification?

Many professionals want to take the course to inform the work they are doing in childbirth, but do not necessarily want to offer the four session model in their practice. For example, nurses in labor and delivery, physicians, midwives or other professionals, such as childbirth educators or doulas who want to understand the concepts to inform their classes, or ongoing clinical work, but do not wish to offer individual prenatal counseling or body centered hypnosis sessions with women they serve. Costs are the same, however assignments are not necessary. The breakdown for time is below:

without assignments/certification:

module one: approximately 10 hours

modules two and three: approximately 16 hours

How long does it take to complete the full certification training and what is the time-frame allowed?

The time-frame allowed for the full training is 12 months. Approval for extension may be arranged on an individual basis. Students have ranged from completing the full training anywhere from 4 months to 2 years. The average time for most students is 9 months. Most students are usually working and often raising children simultaneous to the training.

What is the difference between the Core and Advanced programs?

The core program teaches you the philosophy of the model and basic techniques of interviewing and hypnosis. It lays the foundation for the entire training. It allows you to develop a plan for, and deliver an individualized birth visualization for a woman with minimal complexity in her history. It also will allow you to transfer techniques to group class settings, for application, such as a generalized class birth visualization, or working with women in labor and delivery.

The advanced techniques addresses complex issues, such as prematurity, breech presentation, previous traumatic birth and teaches you body-centered techniques to cope with pain and develop an individualized strategy for coping with pain in labor. Helping a woman cope with pain in this way significantly increases the effectiveness of the birth visualization. The full training will allow you to offer the four session model privately, which can extend your practice as a childbirth professional. It will also allow you to work with women with past traumatic childbirth effectively, as well as provide a foundation and techniques that transfer to group settings and other venues.

It is highly recommended to complete the full training if you plan on working with women individually.

Who can take the course?

Childbirth professionals and students. In past trainings this has included, but is not limited to: doulas, midwives, childbirth educators, physicians, psychologists, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists and other people working with pregnant women and their families. Students of these disciplines have also made special arrangements to get credit for the course through their institutions of study while in degree programs.

Why is it necessary to apply and are there prerequisite requirements?

The training assumes a background in the childbirth field, or professional training and an intent to study and engage in work with this population. There are no specific prerequisites, as practitioners come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds and professions. The application serves to screen for those who qualify to benefit from the training in the work they are already engaged in, or the course of study they are pursuing. Do not be intimidated! It is the beginning of getting to know you personally and helping you achieve your educational objectives.

How do I apply to the program?

Send your letter of intent, including how you want to use the course in your present or future occupational setting, and your education and experience working in the childbirth field. You may attach a resume, if you wish. Indicate your intent to complete assignments for the certification track, or to take the course without certification. You may request approval to change tracks during the course of the training.

E-mail your application letter to: Gayle Peterson, LCSW, PhD Director, Prenatal Counseling Programs gp@askdrgayle.com

If accepted, you will be sent options for completing payment to enroll in the program. There is no application fee.

Do I have to sign up for the full training at once?

No, you can sign up for the core (module one), and when you are ready you can sign up for the advanced training (modules two and three). You have the easy option to pay by credit card through paypal links provided on our website. You can sign up for the full training or for the core or advanced separately.

However, you receive a discount if you sign up for the whole course, and pay by check or money order ($50. discount). You also receive a discount of $75. (cost of the introductory DVD training*), if you sign up for the introductory course, and within 30 days sign up for the full training (all three modules). You may take both discounts. It is recommended that you sign up for the full training, if you are interested in certification, as this allows you to offer the four session model. Enrollment is limited.

*a computer file is also delivered online with the PDF manual.

What will the certification prepare me to provide?

When you complete full certification, you are able to provide private sessions with pregnant women to create a specific birth visualization (body-centered hypnosis) preparation recording that addresses their specific needs, which the woman will use to prepare for labor in the last month of pregnancy. This will consist of two sessions, one to gather information, and another to record the visualization. You will also meet with the woman two more times, once to identify her individual style for coping with pain in labor and once postpartum to support her self esteem in processing after birth and identifying postpartum adjustment issues and appropriate referral. You will be qualified to offer the four session model in your work with pregnant women. Certification requires successful completion of all assignments, in the allowed time-frame.

How is the training delivered?

It is a completely online program that you can do in your own home, at your own pace. It consists of 6 seminars, 18 cases illustrating the techniques and 2 PDF files, all delivered by computer video files*. A broadband connection is necessary to receive the files. Reading is also required. Assignments are sent by e-mail and feedback is received through personal e-mail or phone communication. A yahoo group is set up for the ongoing students in the training to ask questions and share resources. See syllabus link for more details.

*If a broadband connection is not possible, DVD files may be sent by regular mail for a small fee.

Is this Psychotherapy?

No, it is not. It is short term educational counseling and hypnosis for childbirth. The training will help to identify signs that indicate if a psychotherapy referral is needed.

Do I need a license to use this certification?

Currently, there are no states that require a license for counseling or hypnosis for childbirth education or preparation. Check with your state, as legislation can change.

Who will potentially refer clients to me with this certification?

Graduates of the program have been referred patients from obstetricians, midwives, psychotherapists, doulas, childbirth educators and other health care professionals who identify women who would benefit from receiving individualized attention related to anxiety in childbirth. Women are also often self-referred, when they find there is someone in their area who specializes in this approach.


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