June Newsletter 2 – Full Articles

Breakout Session: From Trauma-Informed to Trauma-Responsive: Making Perinatal Psychotherapy Whole with Coregulation

Focusing on trauma in perinatal mental health is not optional. Trauma-informed perinatal care is built on awareness of how past trauma can impact new mothers and parents, sensitivity to the risks of traumatization during the perinatal period, and active measures to prevent and mitigate traumatic stress reactions related to all aspects of the perinatal transition. Trauma-informed care is also particularly important for mothers and parents from diverse and marginalized groups who are disproportionately affected by trauma and are less likely to receive treatment. But being informed about and aware of the role of trauma does not give providers the clinical skills and tools to effectively respond to their clients who are impacted by trauma. From a biopsychosocial and somatic psychology framework, trauma-responsive clinical skills include nervous system psychoeducation that empowers clients, establishing therapeutic safety through coregulation and attunement that is sensitive to the unique circumstances of the perinatal period, and the clinician’s acknowledgement of and transparency about the significant systemic disparities in perinatal care. This presentation will explain and concretize how principles of trauma-informed care translate into providers’ interactions with clients through a focus on using coregulation therapeutically, adapted for the unique needs of perinatal clients.

Helena Vissing, PsyD, SEP, PMH-C:

Dr. Vissing is a Licensed Psychologist certified in Perinatal Mental Health (PMH-C) in private practice in California. She practices trauma-informed somatic psychotherapy as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. She has developed a biopsychosocial model of trauma treatment in the perinatal period integrating somatic techniques. Instagram

Maternal Health and Abortion Access in the United States: Historical Context, Maternal Outcomes and the Experience in Texas

Tell us about your session at the 2023 PSI conference. 

This talk begins by defining terms for clarity and looking at a brief history of abortion in the United States to put our current moment of history in a historical context. It then looks at research on 5-year outcomes for women who either obtained an abortion or were turned away due to their specific state’s laws on the upper limit of gestational age for an abortion procedure. The talk then looks at epidemiology and safety data for abortions, observing that people from marginalized and lower socio-economic groups are over-represented and discussing the intersection of mental health and structural racism embedded within the issue of abortion. It then focuses on two cases in Texas where medical treatment was altered by Texas’ abortion restriction laws. The talk ends with a discussion of the ethical issues for medical providers and institutions raised by abortion restriction laws.

Who is the target audience for your session? 

ob/gyns, nurse-midwives, psychiatrists, doulas, perinatal mental health providers

How will people benefit from attending your session?

Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of the history of abortion, the specifics of current limitations in Texas and ramifications for patient care and how to support patients and clinicians in the current landscape.

Karen Horst, MD:

Dr. Karen Horst was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She attended Yale University, majoring in philosophy with a focus on women’s philosophy. She attended Baylor College of Medicine for medical school, intending to become an obstetrician/gynecologist. After two years of residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor, she transferred to the Baylor psychiatry department and completed her residency in psychiatry. She completed training in psychoanalysis at the Denver Institute for Psychoanalysis and had a private practice in reproductive psychiatry in Colorado for much of her career before returning to Houston in 2019 where she returned to the Baylor Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Horst is an assistant professor in the Baylor department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and clinical assistant professor in the Baylor Department of Psychiatry, medical director of The Women’s Place, a reproductive psychiatry clinic at TCH and medical director for the Baylor hub of the Perinatal Psychiatry Access Network (PeriPAN). She has been a member of PSI since 2008.

Parental Burnout Prevention as a Component of Family Planning is specifically geared toward mental health professionals and care team professionals who are committed to combating parental burnout. Together with my co-panelist, Donzell Lampkins, MSW, LCSW, we will be diving deep into some of the recent research conducted on parental burnout. Our discussion will also shed light on the existing obstacles that parents and partners often encounter when seeking assistance for parental burnout. We’ll cover some of the existing barriers to receiving care for parental burnout and how it differs from occupational burnout. Our session is intended to be an interactive exchange, as we collectively develop strategies that participants (mental health professionals & care team specialists) can incorporate into their own professional settings to combat parental burnout.

Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of the current research on parental burnout, the factors that contribute to it, and how it contrasts with occupational burnout. They’ll gain insight into the barriers that prevent parents from seeking help for parental burnout. Furthermore, our session will equip attendees with practical strategies that they can implement in their professional practices to help prevent parental burnout and support healthier parent-child dynamics, including partner support. Ultimately, the knowledge gained from this session will enable attendees to provide comprehensive and effective support to parents, thereby enhancing the overall health and wellbeing of families they serve.