Over the past five or more years, I have developed a passion for working with maternal mental health. This encompasses many things including women trying to conceive, women who are pregnant, women during the postpartum period, as well as women during the childbearing years. There is a great need for this service. Both in providing support to mothers and their partners, but also in educating the community so individuals are better able to recognize the signs and symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Further, to reduce the stigma so women feel welcome to reach out to get the support and attention they need during this critical time. One in seven women suffer from depression or anxiety during the postpartum period. Women struggling with this can oftentimes face a great of shame and embarrassment for what they feel during a time in which they feel "should" be joyous.
In the past several years, I have also developed an interest in working with women and their partners facing infertility. This is another area that can carry a great deal of shame and embarrassment, for both partners. Some say their bodies have failed them, that they feel less "womanly" or "manly". Some grieve the loss of never being able to be a mother or father to a biological child. Many feel pain when discovering that a close friend of theirs recently announced that they are pregnant. They may feel angry and jealous, and then guilt and shame for having such feelings. The number of those facing infertility is on the rise, with 1 in 4 couples struggling with this.
Further, I have an interest (you could even say a "soft spot") in working with individuals who have a tendency toward perfectionism, are highly self-critical, struggle with asserting their wants and needs, experience guilt and shame, and generally struggle to identify who they are, who they want to be, and what is important to them. I am fascinated as well by how our families shape who we are, how we present ourselves to others, and the choices we make. We may not be able to control what is passed down to us genetically, or what we even learned in our environment; we do have control over what we do with that information once we have it.
I believe in the importance of all individuals learning and growing, and feel fortunate that my work allows me to do this, not simply through education, training, and reading, but in the experiences of my clients. They are my biggest source of knowledge. Through their stories of pain and growth, I also grow, both personally and professionally.