Excellence in Perinatal Mental Health

Virtual Three-Part Training Series with Catharine McDonald, LPC

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February 9, 2024 | 9:00am-12:00pm

3 CEUs available through NASW


  • Define and differentiate perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) from the baby blues
  • Identify the origins and risk factors of PMADs and the impact of traumas as they relate to PMADs
  • Highlight clinical best practices for identification and treatment of PMADs.
  • Analyze opportunities for intra-agency and inter-organization collaboration to best support perinatal families’ mental health

This overview training will provide a structured introduction to six distinct presentations of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, distinguishing clinical conditions of concern from baby blues and normal adjustment. We will discuss best practices for screening, safety & risk assessment, and evidence-based treatments for perinatal populations. Past and present traumas will be explored as well as intersectional risk factors. Lastly, we will strategize how professionals can collaborate with colleagues and interdisciplinary professionals to optimize parent & baby outcomes.

February 16, 2024 | 9:00am-12:00pm

3 CEUs available through NASW


  • Recognize systemic obstacles negatively impacting perinatal mood and anxiety disorder rates in America.
  • Connect negative healthcare experiences that birthing people may encounter in the
    pregnancy and birthing process to perinatal mental health consequences experienced disproportionately by certain populations
  • Formulate treatment plan considerations and modifications to mitigate adverse systemic impacts on birthing people as it relates to perinatal mental health outcomes

Going beyond a search for the illustrious destination of “cultural competence,” we will explore how psychosocial systems intersect with maternal & birthing person health and how mental health providers can educate, collaborate, and positively influence parent- baby wellness with specific consideration to the sociopolitical climate on reproductive rights, racism in healthcare, birthing person health disparities in the US and worldwide, and marginalized birthing people in the US. These systemic influences impact growing families from family planning and fertility journeys through prenatal care, birth experiences, and into the postpartum period, all in turn affecting mental health outcomes for the birthing person and the newborn. Clinician self-reflective processes will be explored as they relate to implicit biases, privilege, and ability to implement decolonizing anti-racist advocacy practices in mental health work with perinatal populations.

April 5, 2024 | 9:00am-12:00pm

3 CEUs available through NASW


  • Name and describe specific types of perinatal loss and recognize scenarios that place families at higher risk for avoidable trauma.
  • Discuss ways to support families through perinatal loss and healthy grieving while minimizing further trauma
  • Identify the clinician’s role in avoiding further traumatization of clients, and how to provide psychotherapy during loss and post-loss that is both trauma-informed and facilitates healing.
  • Examine birthing person & maternal healthcare disparities experienced based on race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, marital status, and religious and cultural values, all of which influence the risk of avoidable traumas around perinatal loss.

Growing a family is often considered an exciting and happy time, however the unseen side of that experience is that there are many types of losses that can occur around family planning and anticipating the arrival of a baby. We will look at conception through early parenting losses, abstract losses, and the ways in which societal discomfort with death leads to erasure and avoidance that is not only invalidating but can be traumatizing to bereaved families.

Catharine McDonald, MS, NCC, LPC, PMH-C

Catharine McDonald is a fierce advocate for perinatal wellness and seasoned CT Licensed Professional Counselor, certified in Perinatal Mental Health by Postpartum Support International. She is the Owner and Clinical Director of Growing Well Counseling in Tolland, Connecticut, a private practice focusing solely on perinatal wellness encompassing integrative mental health, fertility, birth trauma, and peripartum sexual health. While studying Counseling at UNC Greensboro in 2007, she supported families in antenatal units and NICUs, igniting a profound commitment to perinatal mental health. Her passion for learning continues as she works through a post-graduate certificate program in Sex Therapy at The University of Michigan. Catharine is also a trained family life educator, baby-led sleep specialist, and Fair Play Method Certified Facilitator.

As a proud feminist perinatal trainer, Catharine creates resource-rich training for therapists, striving to protect reproductive rights and improve birth and postpartum experiences for birthing people. A founding member of the CT Chapter of PSI, she has offered practical perinatal continuing education training at state and national conferences for nearly a decade. Her unwavering dedication to reproductive freedoms and nurturing better birth experiences defines her both professionally and personally. Beyond advocacy, Catharine cherishes family moments on her little homestead in Connecticut, tending to her vegetable garden alongside her husband, four kids, two dogs, and many hens and one rooster. When she isn’t working or home, you can find her cheering on the sidelines as a proud baseball mom, soccer mom, and volleyball mom, living by her planner and always on the go with coffee in hand.