WILA is now offering a group for new mothers, where everything and anything about this challenging, exciting, and exhausting transitional period is welcomed. The group is intended to provide space for new moms’ experiences of motherhood. It’s a place to come in and feel safe to share all of the challenges and the hilarious stories that make early motherhood what it is.
The group is facilitated by Kate Petrosky, Psy.D., and Andrea Kane, Psy.D., who are post-doctoral fellows at the Wright Institute Los Angeles. Kate and Andrea understand this adjustment period well, and expect mommies to come in with a range of ideas, from the cute to the scary. They are ready to tackle everything from perinatal mood disorders to diaper blow outs.
In an interview with Kate and Andrea, they share more details about their philosophy, experience and thoughts about the group.
Eva: So tell me how this whole idea came to life, no pun intended.
Kate: We wanted to create a group where new mommies can feel safe to share their experiences of motherhood, bond with other new mommies and their babies.
Andrea: It’s a profound and fundamental change and it’s normal to feel confused, scared, exhilarated, exhausted, and joyful all at the same time! We realized that in a community clinic setting, we can offer these services at affordable fees, so that moms are not burdened by additional financial commitments, rather, are able to focus on giving and receiving support to- and from fellow mommies.
Eva: That sounds like a something so important for new moms!
Kate: It often feels like there is a societal pressure on mommies to get back in shape, back to work, back to whatever it is that they were before having their baby. We go through changes as new mothers that can make this demand a bit unrealistic. We hope that a group which allows mothers to integrate the joy with the challenges and the worry with the elation would maybe help balance those other messages or pressures. A space where mommies can explore their new sense of being and purpose.
Eva: It sounds like you’re talking about how many times, mothers’ new experiences and daily emotions and struggles are set aside in favor of a rapid adjustment to this new role.
Andrea: Exactly. We instead aim to offer a compassionate and realistic adjustment, based on moms’ own rhythms and own capacities.
Kate: Motherhood can be exhausting and lonely at times. We acknowledge those parts along with the bliss and delight.
Eva: It sounds like the philosophy is to allow the women to come in with whatever mix of feelings and experiences that they carry, and just be there, and share that.
Andrea: Yes! Our philosophy is a “supported mommy means a supported baby.” It doesn’t always smell great and it’s not always cute, as both Kate and I know from our years of clinical training (and mommy-ing!) There’s a need to allow, acknowledge, and explore the messier parts, so-to-speak. Our training has taught us that permitting the messiness to be experienced and shared in a non-judgmental environment can allow the healthy integration of your recently turned-upside-down life.
Kate: We want to provide a non-judgmental space for women to share their questions and feelings about lots of sensitive topics; such as, the experience of losing their self-identity as they knew it, how long they should wait before getting back to work, newly negotiated boundaries with family, what it feels like to have a messy home, sex with your partner after baby, etc. This is the place to bring these thoughts, dilemmas and questions.
Andrea: Yes. We realize that there may be times where moms are so preoccupied with their babies that the group would naturally gravitate towards more logistical topics such as swaddling, diapers, breast feeding, etc. We are ready and excited for that, too! The unique thing about our group, though, is we also leave room to expand on the topics that might seem difficult to talk about. As clinicians, we help our clients more deeply understand their uncomfortable thoughts and feelings and we see the great benefit that can come from opening this space for moms.
Eva: I can thoroughly hear your passion for this endeavor. You clearly are coming from a place of mom, as well as a place of trained clinician.
Kate: Motherhood can challenge your humanity, your notion of love, your identity, and it can also allow you to expand your sense of self in relationship to yourself and others, and overall, provides never-ending opportunities for growth. Sometimes, in a society of “shoulds” and “milestones,” (which are also important, of course), these questions and mixed feelings tend to get collapsed and closed up, and these opportunities for growth can be missed or not fully maximized.
Eva: If there is a new mom out there that is reading this and wants to reach out to you guys, yet feels some hesitation or trepidation of joining the group, what would you tell her?
Andrea: Mommy, I know you’re tired… grab your baby, put on your sweats and come join us, this will be a non-judgmental space to grow and play. We are serious clinicians and easy-going moms. You just went through a major biopsychosocial change and may even be experiencing the “mommy blues”. We believe that a weekly exploration of these big changes and feelings can provide relief, support, and expansion of your coping mechanisms while providing an opportunity to integrate all of the extremes of motherhood.
Kate (laughing): Yes, and I would tell her that this group is a place to cry and laugh together about putting your keys in the freezer or the milk in the cupboard. We’re here to explore whether you feel contained and what internal shifts are temporary and which are here to stay.
Eva: This is helpful. I think that many women who haven’t been part of groups in their pre-mom lives would naturally be more hesitant to join your group than those who’ve experienced how it’s like to be a group member. So, this information is helpful.
Kate: Yes, I think that there is something about becoming a mom that can so easily be isolating, and so it becomes more essential to be part of a community, to talk to people who understand.
Andrea: If only to talk to another adult that day! (Kate and Andrea laugh)
Eva: Wonderful. Now let’s talk logistics. What are the costs, time commitment, etc.?
Andrea: Well, the group is 75-minutes in length, and each cycle of group is 8-sessions with a fee of $20 per group. This means that you commit to 8 weeks of group, and payment is $160 upfront for the 8 weeks. We realize that things come up and some moms won’t be able to come for all sessions, and that’s okay, but the commitment is in those 8 weeks to do your best and come as often as you can.
Kate: Yes, and Andrea and I are the co-facilitators of the group, while Lisa Osborn, Ph.D., is the supervising psychologist of the group. Babies are welcomed, but not mandatory.
Eva: Lastly, if you could sum up your group in a sentence for mothers out there that may be considering joining this space, what would you say?
Andrea: Our group is here for you to process and play with your experience as a new mom.
Kate: And I would add, to give you an opportunity to experience some “selfish” personal growth when possible.
For more information about the group, please visit www.wila.org/mommies/ or call (424) 371-5191 and indicate that you are interested in the mommies group, in order to receive a call back with information from one the group’s co-facilitators.