Ep 35: Can you do EMDR with a pregnant client? Clinical reasoning in the perinatal period with Dr. Mara Tesler Stein

Every clinician, whether they think they work with reproductive issues or not, needs to hear this discussion! Why? First, even if your clinical work doesn’t focus on these topics, you’re still likely to find them showing up in your office. Next, how we think about incorporating EMDR therapy during the reproductive period, especially during a client’s pregnancy, can be applied conceptually to every client! By exploring the hopes, fears, and hesitations that arise when incorporating EMDR during the reproductive period, we illuminate what comes up across clinical practice areas

There are a lot of alarming messages in the therapy world about EMDR and pregnancy. And for many EMDR clinicians, this messaging has instilled an aversion to doing EMDR with our pregnant clients. 

We're taught to fear the "dangers" of doing EMDR in the first and third trimesters, the threat EMDR has on high-risk pregnancies, and that we should, at all costs, avoid any reprocessing in Phase 4 with our pregnant clients.

And while this messaging has a good intention, it loses sight of one of the biggest questions associated with EMDR and pregnancy: what's the risk if we don't do EMDR with our pregnant clients? 

I sat down with perinatal mental health advocate and expert Dr. Mara Tesler Stein to learn more about EMDR and pregnancy to unpack the past, present, and future behind this misunderstood question.

Listen as we talk about the fears we have as clinicians, our responsibilities to our clients, and the research that actually answers the often asked question "Can you do EMDR with a pregnant client?" 

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Learn more about today’s spotlight guest: 

Dr. Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D., PMH-C

Training + Education:

Foundational training (Aug/Nov, 2022)

The Advanced Practice of EMDR for Perinatal & Infant Mental Health (June, 2022)

The Advanced Practice of EMDR for Perinatal & Infant Mental Health (on-demand)

Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: A Practitioner's Guide to Working with Bereaved Families (With Dr. Mara Tesler Stein and Dr. Debbie Davis), May, 2022 

Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D., PMH-C is a clinical psychologist practicing in Chicago and Jerusalem. She is the founder and director of The Touchstone Institute for Psychotherapy and Training where she offers both EMDR Foundational trainings for perinatal specialists & advanced EMDR workshops which take a deeper dive into the intersections and applications of EMDR and perinatal mental health.

Dr. Stein is a staunch advocate for trauma-focused care and is trained and certified in a range of integrative trauma therapies. A certified EMDR therapist, EMDRIA Approved Consultant and Trainer for the Institute for Creative Mindfulness, Dr. Stein is also certified in Emotion-Focused Family and Couple Therapy, is a Gottman Certified Therapist, and continues to pursue training in Clinical Hypnosis, Yoga-Informed treatment, Advanced applications of EMDR, Brainspotting, and Ego-State therapies.

She is the co-author (with Deborah Davis, Ph.D.) of Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey (Fulcrum, 2004) and Intensive Parenting: Surviving the Journey Through the NICU (Fulcrum, 2013).

Her trauma work is grounded in her personal perinatal journey, which began 25 years ago taking her through infertility, twin pregnancy, prolonged hospital bedrest, the NICU, and years of raising NICU graduates.


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With a Masters in Education from Vanderbilt, Kambria has been creating trainings and teaching adult learners for 20 years. As Director of Education and Quality Improvement at Stanford Medical School, her job was to decomplicate and consolidate complex systems and topics, thereby giving medical trainees successful learning experiences. Now, as a busy mom of fraternal twins, dedicated business owner of Zero Disturbance, and EMDRIA Approved Consultant, Kambria knows what it means to do things efficiently, effectively, and in a learner-centered way.