About 'Womb Surround' Process Workshops

What is a 'Womb Surround' Process Workshop?

A 'Womb Surround' Process Workshop is a small group format developed and refined by Raymond Castellino since 1992. It creates a safe, welcoming environment in which to explore early imprinting from preverbal life that is affecting your present life. Typically there are 7 participants in a workshop. Dr. Castellino is often assisted by trainees or graduates from his Foundation Training.

The format for this was created by Dr. Castellino because he has found by experience that complete and lasting transformations most often happen in a small group setting. The span of four days or an evening plus four days allows the work to occur in a spacious way that supports the integration of material from your own and others' work.

Dr. Castellino begins each workshop reviewing basic interactive, empathy and contact skills so that participants are actively able to support each other during the workshop with the intention of creating a safe and nurturing "womb surround." Each participant receives a 1.5 - 3.5 hour session with Dr. Castellino with group support during which he or she explores physical and emotional patterns of prenatal, birth or infancy origin. Each session is followed by individual and group debriefing, integrative processing and discussion. Tools used include group interactive processes, energy awareness, craniosacral work and other touch and empathy skills.

The purpose is to heal and re-pattern early trauma and to create more options for current behavior and ways of being in relationship. In addition to healing prenatal, birth and other early trauma, this process has the principle impact of encouraging loving bonding within primary relationships. Participants commonly state that the process is transformational on a deep level.

The Format of the 'Womb Surround' Process Workshop

The actual format is as follows: The first segment of the workshop (approximately 3 to 4 hours) is spent with participants sharing intentions and Ray establishing the principles and structure that will make it possible to share and receive at a deep resourced level. Then, over the course of the workshop, each person has a turn, one at a time, during which the whole group, led by Ray, focuses on supporting the participant to explore some aspect of preverbal life. Each step is taken with consciousness, permission from the turn person and with a goal of supporting the turn person's intention as they explore this early material. In this format Dr. Castellino is facilitating not only the individual turn person, but also the other members of the group and interactions between everyone present.

The methods used to facilitate each turn are determined by the intention and needs of the turn person. Here is what is consistent: First there is a group process to determine who will be the turn person. The rest of the group will be the surround. The whole group is involved in this decision in order to insure that everyone is on board to support the turn person. Once the turn person is determined, Ray rereads the turn person's forms and the turn person affirms his or her turn. Ray and the group then listen to the turn person's story. Ray asks questions pertinent to the person's exploration, coaches the person through slow movement patterns, uses gentle touch and makes suggestions to the turn person and the group for interactive exercises.

During sessions Dr. Castellino coaches the surround members to support each other and the turn person. He suggests that surround members use the same kind of attention that they would as if they were holding a newborn baby.

Dr. Castellino's intention for the turn person is to support him or her to relax into body memories from some aspect of his or her early experience: for example, birth. Dr. Castellino guides the turn person and the group to interact at a very slow tempo so that each person present and especially the turn person are supported to integrate or make sense of the early body memories. For example, as the turn person relaxes into a memory, his or her body begins to move in such a way as to allow the unique movement patterns that the person may have actually moved through during his or her birth. The group quietly and gently holds the turn person so that he or she can move through the birth pattern in a very conscious and integrated way. Doing this at a slow tempo, with warmth, contact and support, repatterns the experience for the turn person. The whole group is working together as a team in a very respectful gentle atmosphere as if they were at a birth.

In choosing suggestions to make during sessions, Dr. Castellino draws from four decades of experience in craniosacral therapy, polarity therapy, group and family dynamics, somatic experiencing (a body-oriented approach to trauma resolution), play therapy, movement therapy, working with repatterning ancestral imprints and body biomechanics. He has combed through midwifery and obstetrics literature from before the turn of the 20th Century to the present studying birthing procedures from midwifery, nursing and obstetric points of view. In addition he has facilitated thousands of adults and children in exploring their early lives.

As the turn person reveals his or her history, Dr. Castellino uses this knowledge to help the turn person develop a plausible and coherent story out of his or her history. As this happens, Ray helps the turn person realize how these early imprints led to adaptive behaviors that have affected him or her throughout his or her life and how these adaptations to the original trauma have been useful. Participants often discover the limitation of the adaptive behaviors. The process itself opens new possibilities for a broader spectrum of choices in their lives.

Not all participants explore their birth process. Some explore an aspect of ancestral influences, conception, pregnancy, hospitalization after birth, the twin experience, family dynamics of their birth family, adoption or any other events or family patterns that affected them strongly.

At the end of each turn, the surround members are asked to share a brief essence statement of how the turn person's work touched them.

It is usual for the sessions to end with the whole group in awe and reverence for the sanctity of the turn person's journey and for life itself.

Each morning there is a group check-in and a debriefing of the previous day's session by Dr. Castellino. (The last day's sessions are debriefed during closure). The purpose of these discussions is to facilitate the integration of the sessions. When the group is in session, the participants are in experiential right-brain mode. During the debriefing following the sessions, participants are in more of a cognitive left-brain mode.

During closure, Dr. Castellino recommends specific activities for the next month to support the participants in the integration of their experiences from the workshop. These include contact with other members of the group, professional support, and suggestions for ways to integrate their new perceptions, needs and ways of being with their families and communities.

At the end of the workshop as part of the closure activities Dr. Castellino shows a slide show with music that includes pictures taken during the workshop.

Who Attends a 'Womb Surround' Process Workshop?

This workshop is recommended for professionals as a means to personally experience the profound changes possible with this approach. Those who come with particular skills are encouraged to use them in the group setting. Participants leave with deeper levels of awareness, directly related to prenatal and birth processes, applicable to any professional practice. Many report using their new perceptions and skills in their practices.

This workshop is equally valuable to persons who chose to take it primarily for personal growth and healing.

Couples, pregnant mothers, mothers/fathers and their adult children often take this workshop as well as professionals.

Individuals who are not ready for group process work are best served by individual sessions with experienced facilitators, therapy in another setting or both. Parents of infants/young children will find private sessions more appropriate.

One womb surround process workshop is a prerequisite to applying to the Castellino Prenatal and Birth Therapy Foundation Training that is completed over a two and a half-year period in nine six-day modules. In addition to the nine training modules, four womb surround process workshops are required to graduate from the Foundation Training. Three of the four may be taken before starting the Foundation Training.

Another USA Foundation Training will be offered by Mary and Tara in Ojai, CA starting in 2023. www.castellinotraining.com/foundation

Another Spain Foundation Training will be offered by Mary and Tara starting in March, 2022, in English, transplated to Spanish so English speakers can attend. www.formacioncastellino.es/en/

Testimonials from participants in Ray's Womb Surrounds

This was one of the most profound workshops that I have participated in. As someone who facilitates groups myself, I was so pleased and impressed at the quality of presence and the container that Ray, Frank and Kristin created. It was a true womb and already the impact of this extraordinary work is reverberating through my life. Thank you and blessings"

Holly Hamilton, LMT, DD

This workshop was truly transformative. I have done years of therpay and have not felt so guided into my own original wounds as masterfully as with Ray

Marlena deCarion, PCC

Finally! After 35 years as a professional counselor, I found the integration of modalities, body-centered and more that give real solution to lifelong, destructive patterns of meeting life. Dr. Castellino is a gifted master teacher and therapist.

Cristina Casanova, psychotherapist

Ray's Process Workshop is one of the most profound, healing and informative workshops I've ever experienced. His principles ensured the safety and integrity of the experience. The way he prepares the surround to receive and support the participant is masterful. His structure for checking in negotiating turns and sharing after each turn informed and deepened the process. This is an experience I will never forget. I look forward to seeing how my INTENTIONS unfold into everyday practice.

Priscilla Chaveyz-Reilly, M.S., retired head of NYC guidance counselors

The workshop has led me to parts of me which have remained hidden and I am grateful to have the space in which to name them. The change within me is more than I can name.

John Aufterheide, BEBA father

I have no words to describe what this workshop did. It is still settling. But I feel like I peeled off another layer of my mask and I am a more real person. I feel so empowered from deep within me, like I found my fulcrum.

Annapurna Jonnalagedda, SE student and homemaker

Honestly, I didn't and haven't seen any way in which the experience could have been better, more complete, more thorough, deeper, more inspiring, revealing, more incisive, intimate, evocative or fun. I can assure you, this is a first for this guy, who wants everything to be the best it can possibly be and always sees where improvement is possible.

Mike Brenner, MD

This workshop gets to layers of healing and connection in a deeper, safer, and more effective way than I have ever experienced. You really "get" how to be fully human.

Ariella Morris, LCSW, MSW

Approved Workshop Facilitators

Process Workshops whose faciliators have been approved by Ray or another supervisor may be taken as a prerequisite for required process workshops for trainees and potential trainees and are open to anyone for personal and/or professional growth. For information, please contact the relevant facilitator directly. Many travel to offer womb surrounds. Some offer zoom workshops. Those who offer in-person workshops will be doing so once they are able. Not everyone who is approved currently offers womb surrounds. The practitioners listed below also offer other courses/workshops and work with families and individuals.

All those listed below have demonstrated competence, graduated from a Foundation Training, assisted a complete Foundation Training (or is assisting the current Foundation Training), is an RCST (registered craniosacral therapist), RPP (Polarity Therapy Practitioner) or an SEP (Somatic Experiencing Practitioner) or the equivalent or is working toward that and has completed 1/2 the course, has taken at least 6 Process Workshops, has assisted at least 4 process workshops, has taken at least 2 Practitioner Training workshops including at least one as a practioner or has co-facilitated 2 womb surrounds with Ray, and has successfully offered a minimum of 8 womb surrounds with supervision. A complete list of requirements is available on request.

Name and Email or Website Location Phone
Alison Greene-Barton, RCST®
Amherst, MA
(United States)
+1 805 276-8207
Carme Renalias, RCST®
+34 629 291-654
Chantek McNeilage, RCST
Essex, England
(United Kingdom)
+44 1799 527084
Charisse Basquin, DC
Fife, Scotland
(United Kingdom)
+44 1333 450 302
Cherionna Menzam, PhD, RSMT/E, RCST
(United Kingdom)
+44 7801-515-865
Cindy Barnum, LMT, RCST, CD(Dona)
Ojai, CA & Eugene, OR (United States) 541 991-6217
Claudia Koehler, PT
+49 351-2679271
Cynthia Cutting, CNP, SEP, BCST, CNMret
Williamsville, VT (United States) 917 902-6114
David Haas, B.Sc.(Hons), RPP, RCST
Surrey, England
(United Kingdom)
+44 1483 423352
Eileen Sendrey, CMT
Morgan Hill, CA (United States) 408 892-2820
Frank Carbone
Ojai, CA (United States) +1 805 320-7985
Judith Lee Cohen, RN, MTh, RCST®
Savannah, GA (United States) +1 520 241-8335
Judyth Weaver, PhD, RCST®, SEP, SAL, RMP
Seattle, Washington (United States)
Cortes Island, British Columbia (Canada)
+1 206 361-4124
+1 250 935-8500
Kevin Davis®, LCSW, LMFT, LCAS, SEP
Charlotte, NC
(United States)
704 807-8939
Klaus Kaeppeli, dipl.psych.FSP
Eggersriet, CH-9034
+41 7122 34891
Kristin Sipley, RCST®
Santa Cruz, California
(United States)
+1 831 295-8384
Lin Vermeiren
Mary Jackson, RN, LM, RCST®
Ventura, California
(United States)
+1 805 649-3063
Myrna Martin, MN, RCC, RCST®
Nelson, British Columbia
+1 250 509-1033
Rebecca MacSween, RCST;
Regina Buecher, RPP, RCST, dipl.Heilpaed
+49 7668 950764
Sabera Dringenberg, Heilpraktikerin, BCST
+49 176 4200 5788
Sarah Theismann, MA, CMP, SEP, CSB
Petaluma, CA & other locations
(United States)
+1 510-610-0320
Scott Engler, MA, RCST, BCST
Petaluma, California
(United States)
+1 707 953-1441
Susan Lange, OMD, LAc
Santa Monica, California
(United States)
+1 310 395-9525 x2#
Tara Blasco, PhD, RCST®
Ojai, California
(United States)
+1 805 646-1269