Intersections of Birth + Trauma:

Informed Clinicians Empowering Clients | taught by Catharine McDonald
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Catharine McDonald
Catharine McDonald
MS, NCC, LPC

About the instructor

After double majoring in family studies and psychology (and nearly minoring in Sociology!) at Towson University, interning at Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute and St. Vincent's Home, and volunteering with USMC Marine & Family Services, I pursued my Master of Science in Community Counseling at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Through my graduate work and Pastoral Counseling internship with the Cone Health System I found a passion for women's mental health. My personal motherhood journey shaped my interests toward maternal mental health.

 Since that time, I have worked in a variety of settings including intensive case management, disability evaluation, psychiatric crisis, inpatient psychiatry, and my true home, private practice!

I maintain a full-time private practice in Glastonbury, CT, specializing in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, fertility journeys and motherhood challenges for individuals and couples. I have found my past experience in trauma gets called upon much more often than I could have anticipated a decade ago and so became the need for birth trauma education!  I see many clients with past traumas and recent birth traumas and work with holistic and conventional providers to help women heal from their trauma, finding joy in their motherhood experience and reconnecting with their families.

When I am not doing this incredibly fulfilling work I enjoy spending time with my husband, our three children and our three dogs- it's a busy, furry home and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

This online learning course has been approved by NASW/CT Chapter for 4 CECs.

Summary of Course Content:

  • What is traumatic birth?
  • How does past trauma impact family planning and perinatal mental health
  • Types of trauma impacting perinatal experiences
  • Fertility challenges and impact on mental health
  • Avoidable vs unavoidable traumatic experiences in the perinatal period
  • Obstetric violence and non-evidence based care- including case examples
  • Intimate partner violence in pregnancy and postpartum
  • Additional considerations/unique circumstances
    • provider vicarious trauma
    • military families
    • childbearing LGBT families
    • partners impacted by trauma during the perinatal period
  • Common presentations in psychotherapy
  • Clinical Interventions for childbearing trauma survivors, clients who have had a traumatic birth, and couples struggling after the intersection of birth and trauma
    • Grief work around perinatal losses
    • Maternal-infant attachment concerns
    • Narrative psychotherapy
    • CBT Interventions
    • Affirmation work
    • Supportive psychotherapy
    • Relaxation and guided imagery exercises
    • Couples interventions
    • Postpartum planning
    • Exploring EMDR
    • Safe use of exposure therapy in the perinatal woman
    • Use of advocacy & psychoeducation re: evidence-based medical information to empower clients
  • Prevention & collaboration, a diverse perinatal team supporting women
  • Guiding clients to become advocates for their perinatal healthcare
  • Clinician Considerations
    • Diagnosis & Treatment planning
    • Our own birth experiences
    • Countertransference
    • Transference

Course Contents

1 Video
10 PDFs
8 Presentations
4.0 hrs