Holding Space Support Groups

This spring, the Institute launches its Holding Space Support Group program with three groups focusing on the following:

*Perinatal Loss & Infertility

*Thresholds/Life Changes


In each group, skilled/trained facilitators strive to:
Hold a safe and brave space for your stories
Invite you to deepen your understanding of how your loss has influenced or impacted you
Offer an opportunity to transform your relationship with your grief
Cultivate the healing power of personally meaningful ritual and honoring sadness, despair, disbelief, frustration or anger
Begin to make meaning from our losses and exploring how it has transformed us
Strengthen the circles of support surrounding us
Experience the power of human connection and bearing witness to our stories

The Institute welcomes people of all gender identities, cultures, racial groups, socio-economic experiences, family structures, sexual orientations, and parenting experiences.


Each Holding Space Support Group is 6-weeks in length. Participants gather for 2-hour sessions each week. All of the following groups will be led in English. Support groups led in Spanish are forthcoming.

Each group is $120 per 6-week session.
All groups meet online ~ Zoom link provided upon registration.

*Limited scholarship tuition rates of $60 are available.


To register for any of the following support groups,
please fill out this form.


Perinatal Loss & Infertility Support Group
Co-Facilitated by Naima Beckles & Kristen Avanti
Mondays March 22 – April 26
6:30-8:30pm EST

The Holding Space for Perinatal Loss & Infertility Support Group is a 6-week group offering support for those who are navigating pregnancy loss, infant loss, and infertility. Wherever you are in your journey with loss, we welcome you into our circle. Whether your loss was recent, or many years ago, we hold space to support you through your journey, grief, and heart’s process. This group is for individuals  who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility, infant loss, and pregnancy loss. We welcome individuals who have experienced early losses and later losses, loss through medical termination, loss through undesired termination, multiple losses, chemical pregnancies, ectopic pregnancy, and complicated losses. This group is for people who are in treatment for fertility, having difficulty conceiving, experiencing loss due to complications, or having difficulty carrying to term. We welcome individuals who have experienced the loss of a baby born prematurely, loss through adoption, and loss to court systems and social services.
If you once carried life in your womb, and that life is no longer with you, or you hope to carry life in your womb and haven’t been able to, this space is for you.

Thresholds: Navigating Life Changes Support Group
Co-Facilitated by Heather Tolley & Anne Crook
Thursdays March 25 – April 29
7-9pm EST

Are you currently navigating a significant change in your life? Are you experiencing painful emotions related to these changes? For example: a recent divorce/breakup, job change, relocation, new diagnosis, or shifts in identity. Major life changes bring grief, which often goes unacknowledged by our broader culture and we are left to grapple with difficult emotions largely on our own. If you’re struggling to make sense of changes in your life, we warmly invite you to join our Thresholds: Navigating Life Changes support group. Come experience compassionate presence, a safe space, and professional guidance, to navigate these transitions in a supportive community.


We would love to hold space for you and all of your experience.

Covid-19 Support Group
Co-Facilitated by Alicia Suárez & Melinda Hitchcock
Thursdays April 1 – May 6
6-8pm EST

Life as we know it has changed significantly for just about everyone in the past year. As the pandemic continues to keep us physically distant, we must embrace new ways of expressing our emotions, including our sadness, frustration, hope, and gratitude. Please join us as we begin to process and find solace in the individual and collective struggles faced during this pandemic. We invite you to participate in this on-line holding space group – a healing circle offering a safe space to come together, share, witness and hold each other’s stories. This small support group is for you if you have been impacted by Covid and are grieving the loss of a loved one, the loss of financial security, or are feeling lonely, fearful, or anxious. By joining with others, we can learn from and offer support to one another as we grieve our old lives, create new routines, and build resiliency.


You are not alone.




Holding Space Support Group Facilitators

Kristen Avonti holds a B.A. from Hampshire College wherein she studied psychology and social work. She has a background in herbalism, doula work, supporting birthing families, and end of life doula care. She has a deep passion for the natural world and loves growing plants for food and medicine. Kristen is a “midwife for the soul” who has dedicated her life to tending our most vulnerable and tender thresholds of growth, transformation, grief, and loss. As a Holding Space Consultant and Transformational Life Coach, Kristen supports individuals in navigating the wilderness of our personal journeys, stepping through our thresholds of transformation, and finding our meaning making through the telling of our stories. In addition to offering Holding Space Consultations, Kristen is also a teacher of the Loving, Dying, and Letting Go workshop. Kristen’s passion lies in working with folks who are navigating the impacts of trauma in their lives, and those who are in the transformative process of discovering their authenticity and truth. Kristen’s approach to care is founded on a belief in the sacredness and power of our stories and the ways in which they give us meaning and a sense of place within our lives. Kristen’s deeply attuned presence and calm, caring authenticity invite a courageous bravery to rumble with our stories, get to know our hungry ghosts, and venture into the meaning making that occurs when we are lovingly held in our most vulnerable truths and stories.

Naima Beckles holds an MA from Loyola Marymount University and taught middle and high school students in Los Angeles, DC, and New York City. Naima is an educator, doula and founding director of For Your Birth – an intentionally diverse doula agency. Soon after the birth of her first child, she chose the work of supporting expectant parents and earned certifications from Lamaze and DONA.  While training with Amy Glenn Wright in a pregnancy loss course, the desire to hold space for life’s big losses, including death, was sparked.  As a teacher, doula, and mother; Naima lovingly stands alongside individuals navigating difficulties and triumphs. Naima offers private consultations with individuals who are experiencing any kind of loss during this confusing and difficult time. Learn more.


Anne Ferrier Crook holds a B.A. from American University in French Language and Western European Studies.  She is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, AADP, Certified Birth Doula, CD(DONA), and Certified Medical Interpreter, CMI-Spanish.  She has worked in many facets of healthcare for the past 20 years with regard to holding space for life’s sacred thresholds. Being a “birth worker” in both a traditional and non-traditional sense, she is passionate about supporting clients to heal and transform their body-mind-spirit from the inside out.  Anne taught nutritional healing and provided wellness consults to clients from all over the world at Onsite — a therapeutic retreat center world-renowned for trauma resolution. She specializes in emotional healing from post-traumatic stress bringing a compassionate presence to clients as they explore the deeper meaning of “soul care” while courageously navigating life transitions.  Her writing has been featured in childbirth magazines, online publications, and a best-seller book called “Thresholds: 75 Stories of How Changing Your Perspective Can Change Your Life.”  Anne offers consultations in English and Spanish.  Learn more.

Heather Tolley holds a B.Sc. in Psychology from the University of Utah, has completed graduate level counseling training as an interfaith healthcare chaplain (Clinical Pastoral Education), and specialized training in supporting survivors of abuse and sexual assault. Heather offers compassion and skilled emotional support to those going through life’s most challenging experiences and specializes in assisting individuals and families who are in the midst of crisis and grief. Through her work as an interfaith hospice chaplain, she has helped many people transition through physical decline and prepare for the end of life. Having also trained as a birth and bereavement doula, Heather has offered support to individuals and families through both birth and death. Heather is honored to support those experiencing faith crisis, spiritual transition, and survivors of religious trauma. She supports the healing process by bringing softness to sharp moments through skilled listening and loving kindness.




Melinda Hitchcock holds an MSW from Fordham University. In the last 20 years she has worked with families and individuals battling homelessness and addiction. At Little Sisters of the Assumption ~ a non- profit family health service in East Harlem, New York City ~ Melinda provided Spanish speaking services and support to immigrant families and refugees of all faiths to help them meet their most fundamental needs. At Angels at Risk in Los Angeles, California she helped guide students and their parents through life struggles and helped them build foundations for long term social stability. At In Balance Academy in Tucson, Arizona, a therapeutic boarding school for young men, Melinda used an array of experiential treatment modalities, including equine therapy, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy. Melinda now lives in upstate New York, while mentoring women in her community who are struggling with addiction and basic coping skills. Melinda’s life contains a myriad of experiences that, through triumphs and tragedies, have brought her to the reality of living her desires and being of service to others. Her focus is specifically on the development of the individual and the healing and strength of family relations through positive solutions.  Her passion for her work extends beyond self, and her education. Her goal is to provide guidance and hope for all those who come under her care.

Alicia Suárez holds a BCE from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. She also holds certifications as an educator, birth/postpartum doula, breast/chest feeding counselor, and yoga teacher. Alicia’s compassionate and mindful presence enables her to hold space for people navigating significant life changes including, but not limited to, death of a loved one, separation/divorce, pregnancy complications, caring for elderly/sick parents, loss of income/job, and the passing of beloved pets. Her work is greatly influenced by her studies in Body-Mind Centering®, as well as her background in perinatal psychology and mindfulness meditation. In 2013, Alicia founded La Luna Azul, a full-spectrum provider of holistic childbirth services located in New York City which focuses on supporting a spectrum of families through birth, adoption and/or surrogacy. In addition to offering Holding Space Consultations, Alicia is also a teacher of the Loving, Dying, and Letting Go workshop and has been trained by the Institute in art of group facilitation. She is humbled at the opportunity to witness and support the emotional journey of people of all races, gender identities, and financial standing. Alicia is fully bilingual and happy to offer her services in both English and Spanish. Learn more.