We know that someone who feels empowered during their pregnancy and birth will often bond better with their baby, experience less postpartum depression, and move into parenthood with increased confidence and strength. For someone who is a childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, or birth trauma survivor, this can be even more important... their ability to feel empowered during pregnancy and birth can also heal deep wounds from their past. This potential for healing is what brings me to my work with pregnant and postpartum abuse and trauma survivors, and I feel honored to assist my clients in such an important way.
I have learned a lot from my clients about maternity care practices and how they can affect survivors during pregnancy and birth. I have also completed a training program with Penny Simkin, PT and Phyllis Klaus, MFT, coauthors of the book When Survivors Give Birth. I now specialize in working with childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, and birth trauma survivors before, during, and after their birth.
Although addressing a history of abuse or trauma may not seem like what you envision doing during your pregnancy, for a survivor to use this transformative time in their life to heal and prevent further traumatization can be life-altering.
The individual consultation is designed to help a trauma survivor prepare for their pregnancy and birth with reflection on their past (although this is not therapy, and there is no need to go into specific detail about your previous abuse or trauma) and a focus on what they needs to heal in the future. During a consultation, I utilize my clinical background as a psychotherapist, my practical skills and knowledge as a birth doula, and my training in trauma and recovery to help make this healing possible.
Everyone needs something different from their birth experience in order to heal, so I individualize each consultation to meet a client's present circumstances and history. As a general guideline we will discuss the most common maternity triggers, as defined in the book When Survivors Give Birth, I will help you get clarity on which ones are the most triggering/anxiety producing for you, and we will strategize which coping mechanisms will be beneficial to you during your pregnancy and birth. While childbirth can often retrigger previous abuse or trauma, it is amazing how being aware of potential triggers, and learning how to prevent or work with them, can allow someone to heal old wounds and move into parenthood with a new sense of self.
My survivor consultations take place on Skype, unless you are local to the Seattle area and would prefer to meet in person. An individual consultation is usually split into two 2-hour sessions, although some clients benefit from three or four sessions. Having a minimum of two sessions allows us time to discuss any parts of your history that you want to disclose, delve into each of the potential maternity triggers, and work on coping strategies and birth planning. For a client who wants more support before or after their consultation, I offer psychotherapy sessions that (unlike the consultations) do not have a specific direction or purpose; they are your time to process through whatever is coming up for you.
My rate for each two-hour session is $250. I offer a sliding-scale for clients who otherwise would not be able to engage in this important work. Please contact me for additional information or to schedule a consultation.