Twin Loss • Doll Reflection Therapy
With Karlton Terry

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There are many instances where doll reflection therapy is the most appropriate procedure to use during a session with a baby. Sometimes babies are too traumatized or otherwise resistant to work directly with their pre and perinatal issues. Rather than pursue their story with palpation, activation, or even empowerment regressions or simulations, it can be more appropriate to explore the story using a doll. When we know the impressionable event and can act it out using a doll to represent the baby's experience through the birth bones or with prenatal challenges, the baby recognizes that its story is understood, seen, and empathically held by others. This is a very healing event, and babies often express deep relief and gratitude when a doll reflection process has been accurate and empathic.

These are big steps toward healing.

Everyone wants to tell their story and share their pain. Everyone wants to be seen and understood with empathy. When a baby's story is acted out with a doll, the baby is not only mollified and relieved to see its story understood and acted out, it often checks in with the parents to see if they too understand. And when the therapist and the parents all understand and lovingly regard the baby's story, an empathic container is created. The baby, who no longer has to hold the experience alone, is greatly relieved and can release the stress and shock held in its physical and psychological systems.

Sometimes the doll is used not to reflect the baby's experiences, but to reflect the experience of the baby's twin who died prenatally. The first step with doll reflection therapy and a suspected twin loss trauma is to determine whether or not there was a twin. Many clues can lead to this suspicion. It is first important to know that there are many more twins conceived than the 3 to 5% that are born. Some embryologists suggest that 30% of us who were born had twins, but Dr. William Emerson, after 30 years of practice and working with multiple cases of Lost Twin Syndrome, once suggested to me that the lost twin rate could be as high as 80%. Graham Farrant, another Pre and Perinatal pioneer once told me it is so hard to endure the embodiment experience that it is impossible to arrive here on earth and reach birth without the help of something like a "soul mate" or twin or spiritual companion…so for him it was 100%.

Clues suggesting that there might have been a twin can start with the very convincing examples of twins being seen on ultrasound and then not being seen on subsequent ultrasounds. If mothers experience bleeding during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester they often have fears that they might be losing their baby. And in many cases, they are losing a baby, while its twin might survive. Dreams about twins often occur when there actually are twins.

If a twin is a soul mate or spiritual companion, that twin can represent a connection to the divine, and if that connection is lost the suffering is truly deep. Sometimes mothers have dreams that they are losing a baby or even part of their own connection to the divine. In the case of the mother in the video, she had dreams and daytime fears that she did not have enough (uterine) milk or nourishment to sustain her in utero baby. Apparently from observing her baby and its relationship to the doll, she was not able to sustain one of her babies resulting in twin loss.

Ultimately it is the baby who lets us know what the impacts of that loss have done to strain the well being of the infant. Sometimes babies, such as the one in the video, tend to stare off into a particular direction, over and over again, with the distinct sense that they are looking for something, or someone. Sometimes such babies spontaneously cry in a profound and (to the parents) inexplicably mournful manner. When a baby reacts to a doll that has been "anointed" as a possible twin by the therapist (it can be a doll or other object that is intended to represent a twin), this is a clue that there may have been a twin. Sometimes babies, such as the one in the video, will react to the doll with contact that is familiar, even loving, and particularly expressive suggesting an antecedent relationship. Many babies will not react to dolls or other objects in the same manner.

This video is touching and poignant because the tenderness expressed by the baby toward its lost twin is so loving and gentle. One of the most powerful aspects of a twin loss session with a doll is to help the parents understand what their baby has been through in order to have more accurate empathy for their baby and to be able to love them and know them on a deeper level. Without this experience, the baby lives in a world where one of the strongest and most painful memories is held alone.

Because prenatal life is so challenging and filled with so much mortality (81% mortality rate, with only 19% survivor rate)* there is often not enough (room, food, love, space) for one baby let alone two. Sometimes even a minor emotional crisis experienced by the mother, let alone a serious one, such as an illness or the death of a loved one, can generate enough emotional stress that a twin who is just hanging on can be lost. This event has a twofold traumatic effect on the surviving twin: first, it also suffers the impacts of a traumatic or stressful event but survives, and; second, it loses its embodiment companion, or soul mate, and perhaps even a big part of its connection to the divine. To test whether this event occurred and to better understand the twin loss, a therapist can simulate the emotional crisis (by shaking the doll and making crisis sounds as in the video). Sometimes (as in the video) babies seem relieved or relaxed when this happens, as if they finally experience the epilogue or resolution to the trauma. Sometimes babies relive the traumatic situation, and this is very healing. By reliving the traumatic situation the baby can undergo the tribulation in the light of day in a field of empathy where love and long-needed understanding can be shown by the therapist and parents. When this happens, the baby is much more able to release the stress from twin loss and experience a wider sense of self without the tension and contraction that comes from carrying a shocking event alone.

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