Preconception and Prenatal Counseling

Parenthood begins long before one gives birth or brings a child into their family.  In some cultures, motherhood begins the moment a couple consciously chooses to become parents. And psychologically speaking, that is a deeply wise and astute orientation.  The moment a woman decides that she wishes to become a mother, the mental and emotional gears begin to shift.  This can be either a conscious or an unconscious process.  However, the more conscious you are of the process, the more easily you can be fully present for what is to come.  One of my specialties is maternal mental health and I am particularly interested in helping both mothers and fathers identify their parenting ideals and values, cultivate awareness that will support them in fulfilling those ideas, and develop tools to recover when they don’t meet their expectations. Therapy during the preconception or prenatal window provides an opportunity to bringing consciousness to your intentions and clarify what you want for yourselves and your family.

Resolving Childhood Experiences

Virtually every parent has decided at some point in their journey that there are certain things they will NOT do as a parent, based on their own upbringing.  Yet, invariably, parents often find themselves playing out the same patterns they promised not to repeat in the heat of the moment.  Depending on the nature of these patterns, this experience of acting out old patterns can be highly distressing and upsetting.  But more importantly, it can undermine the parent’s faith in themselves and their capacity to control their behavior and words.

A common example I hear in my office has to do with criticism.  Having been raised with excessive criticism and judgement and knowing the terrible toll it took on their own self confidence and self esteem, a person will promise themselves  that they would use compassionate correction and empathy with their child when the moment called for it.  Then one day their child drops a fragile object and it shatters, or they hit another child in the sandbox at the park, and before the parent even has the chance to choose how to respond they hear themselves utter the same condemning words they heard as a child and give the same harsh looks they were given.  Before they can take it all back, the parent is reliving the same painful experience they grew up with and swore off.  These situations can be profoundly disheartening and confusing for parents, and can leave them feeling powerless over their own behavior and speech.   Fearful of reenacting psychologically painful patterns with their own child, they simultaneously feel helpless at controlling them.

Fortunately, there is a path through this difficult cycle. The first step on that path is awareness and recognition of the pattern.  The next step is locating a relationship where one can discuss and explore these challenges honestly and without judgment, in order to bring them into a light of understanding.   In this context a person can find freedom from outdated patterns and create the opportunity to choose their actions and words when the moment arises.  I take pride in creating that space for individuals and families, in order that they can pursue the life they dreamed of rather than reliving the one they feared.