Pregnancy Loss Group Facilitator Training


Join Melissa Ming Foynes, PhD, and Amy Wright Glenn, founder of the Institute for the launch of a 4-part training structured to support, strengthen, and nourish current and future Pregnancy Loss Group Facilitators.

This 20-hour live, online training is open to the following:

*Those currently leading pregnancy loss support groups
*Graduates from the Holding Space for Pregnancy Loss training
*Mental health professionals familiar with supporting individuals through perinatal loss
*Graduates of the SBD (Still Birth Day) doula training program
* Graduates of Doula Training Canada’s IPLS Program

**If you do not meet any of the above prerequisites but believe you have equivalent experience and/or training that will serve as a foundation for our study, please reach out to Amy to describe your experience. Determinations about alternative ways to fulfill these prerequisites will be made on a case-by-case basis.

No interest payment plans and scholarships are also available. Contact Amy for more information.


We welcome you.

We welcome you as you hold space for bereaved parents. We bow to your courage and your commitment to this important and difficult work. Whether you are a seasoned bereavement group facilitator or you have yet to lead your first group, we welcome you to this training.

We gather live for four 2-hour modules powerfully and thoughtfully designed to support you in your journey to hold space for pregnancy loss bereavement groups ~ whether online or in-person.

This 20-hour training is co-taught by Melissa Ming Foynes, Ph.D. and Amy Wright Glenn, founder of the Institute.


This course will be offered in the January/February 2022.

(Please contact Amy to be added to the waitlist.)


Module One ~ Holding Space in a Group Setting ~ What does it mean to hold space? What is your intention when inviting bereaved parents to gather? Melissa and Amy open the circle with a warm welcome to all gathered for this training highlighting how a vision rooted in social justice, equity, and companioning is key to crafting healthy group dynamics. Whether in person or online, the tenets of nonjudgemental listening, companioning, and presence, are fundamental to the creation of a safe/brave space within which very difficult emotions, stories, and meaning making can be explored. Amy and Melissa will offer supportive best practices, hands-on practical tools, and space for participants to share insights with each other and consider research-based best practices in crafting support group meetings ~ whether these are conducted on-line or in person. Participants will have time to consider how group facilitation skills merge with insights drawn from companioning people through grief.

Module Two ~ Equity and Justice Awareness ~ What does an examination of health care procedures/policies/practices reveal about systemic injustice in America today? Why do women of color have significantly higher rates of maternal and infant mortality, obstetric violence, and traumatic birth experiences? What about issues of economics, sexual orientation, and gender identity? How can facilitators learn to hold safe space in a culture that has not been safe for marginalized people? Melissa and Amy will explore various models of anti-racism/anti-oppression work that help facilitators navigate more mindfully their own inner landscape of pre-judgments. By coming to a deeper understanding of the complexities of discrimination, injustice and oppression, facilitators can work toward creating as safe and inclusive of as space as possible in their groups without perpetuating the kinds of harmful dynamics and experiences to which many have been exposed.

*For this module, Divya Kumar ~ psychotherapist specializing in perinatal mental health, trauma, and anti-oppression work will join us.*

Module Three ~ Confidentiality/Ethics + Ritual ~ What does it mean to hold stories in confidence? What are the legal and ethical limits of confidentiality? How can group members participate in the creation of mutual agreements that hold stories, emotions expressed, and meaning making as sacred? Amy and Melissa will guide facilitators to understand their own legal and ethical boundaries and feel confident in setting the tone for a group wherein what is shared is held in supportive confidentiality. Furthermore, Melissa and Amy will explore the ethical obligations that facilitators have in terms of operating within their scope of practice and maintaining supportive, therapeutic interpersonal boundaries with those who gather. Both Amy and Melissa will draw from wisdom gained due their experience of working with groups to support you in learning how to more deeply hold space for grief in a group setting. A special emphasis will be placed upon the healing power of encouraging personal rituals and integrating appropriate rituals into a multi-faith and multi-culture group setting.

Module Four ~ Facilitator Self-Care ~ Central to the work of providing supportive space for others is the work of nourishing authentic self-care. Those drawn to the task of holding space for grief tend to be highly empathetic and sensitive individuals who frequently give freely of their time, energy, and talent. But where does empathy and co-dependent behavior merge? Where does one cross the line between compassion and compassion fatigue? How do we attend to our own loss histories and process intense emotions that may arise in the context of this work? What self-care rituals can support facilitator longevity in this work? Melissa and Amy conclude this 4-part training with the central reminder that we must not overlook ourselves in the honorable task of holding space for others. Engaging in a self care assessment and developing a process for discerning changes in self-care needs over time will be an important component of this module.  Facilitators will be guided to prioritize their own well-being as a primary and ethical act in order to nourish longevity, effectiveness, and sustainability in the work of facilitating perinatal loss bereavement support groups.

NOTE: A One-on-one Holding Space Consultation experience is a required component to this training. The cost of this consultation is embedded in the tuition. All participants are responsible for setting up their confidential, individual session with a Holding Space Consultant during the course of the training and/or during the course of completing the training.


*All modules will be recorded and one need not attend live to participate in this training. 

There are three required books for this training:


Holding Space ~ On Loving, Dying, and Letting Go
by Amy Wright Glenn

The Understanding Your Grief Support Group Guide: Starting and Leading a Bereavement Support Group
by Alan Wolfelt, PhD

Unspoken: Writers on Infertility, Miscarriage and Stillbirth
an anthology to-be-released in October 2020, advanced digital copies will be made available for this training



Suggested articles to read on pregnancy loss:

Holding space for pregnancy loss ~ 3 components for doulas to consider

Poems that honor the postpartum body following loss

When the baby dies: Advice for birth doulas who companion the bereaved

Unconditional Support: A day in the life of an abortion doula

On gratitude and grief: Mother donates 92 gallons of breast milk following pregnancy loss 

Miscarriage matters: In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month 

Giving birth to life and death 

Doula for the dying: Connecting birth and death 

Note on CEUs: Documentation of completion will be provided to all participants who have completed the course in full for CEU purposes. Please note that while these CEUs are not accredited, they may still be accepted by your state licensure board for licensure renewal, and we encourage you to check with your local board for more details. Attendees must attend 100% of all meetings and complete all requirements in order to receive a certificate for CEU purposes.




Melissa Ming Foynes is as remarkable an educator and clinician as she is a human being. Her depth of understanding as it relates particularly to grief and the mourning process can only be surpassed by her compassion, dedication and unwavering commitment to helping clinicians and patients alike develop the skills to meaningfully find healing in the wake of loss. As a presenter and educator, Dr. Foynes consistently captivates with her level of expertise, astonishing ability to connect with a broad range of audiences and most notably her genuine warmth. Her generosity and selfless contributions to this field and to each individual whose life she touches brings with it a spirit of hope, a sense of purpose and a belief in one’s own intrinsic self-worth. She is a rare gem, a treasure and an invaluable teacher, clinician, colleague and friend.
~Sandy R., MSW, LCSW

Amy Wright Glenn’s approach is so gentle and deep. She holds space not only for bereaved families but also for her students. She draws from the wisdom of many experts when she teaches and also helps her participants to draw on their own inner knowing and listening. I can’t recommend her books and her workshops highly enough. I have used the tools I gained in every interaction I have had with bereaved families since Amy’s training. 
~ Hope Logghe, IBCLC

Divya Kumar has an uncanny ability to simultaneously connect, empathize, and keep it real. As a lecturer and educator, she has the ability to speak to multiple levels of learners simultaneously without any air of pretension but clearly a master of her craft. Her style combines grassroots organizer, public health guru, and trauma expertise in a way that makes her uniquely suited to every complex situation that arises.
~Janice John, MHS MHCDS, Medical Director, Acute Care Centers, Cambridge Health Alliance


Melissa Ming Foynes holds a Ph.D from from the University of Oregon and she has completed fellowships at Yale University School of Medicine and the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Melissa is a clinical psychologist, national educator, and co-founder of a therapy practice specializing in complex trauma, grief, and loss. She has held academic appointments at Harvard University and Boston University. She has expertise in traumatic losses (e.g., loss of children, loss of loved ones to suicide, murder, illness, accidents, natural disasters) as well as grief and loss related to the perinatal period (e.g., birth trauma, obstetric violence, miscarriage, stillbirth) and pediatric medical complexities (e.g., cancer, autoimmune disorders). She also frequently consults with professionals who have experienced trauma, grief, and loss in the course of their work. She is deeply committed to working with people who have experienced discrimination, trauma and/or loss due to some aspect of identity like gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion. She has authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, and educational products, and has trained thousands of professionals. To learn more, visit:


Divya Kumar is a South Asian-American psychotherapist with a public health background and who specializes in perinatal mental health, trauma, and anti-oppression work. Her work connects clinical services with public health by addressing unmet needs in direct perinatal mental healthcare and the structure and delivery of perinatal support services. She is one of the Co-Founders of the Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for Women of Color, a program within Postpartum Support International that builds capacity within the perinatal professional community to better support individuals, families, and communities of color during the perinatal period. She is a Commissioner on the Ellen Story Commission on Postpartum Depression in Massachusetts and has also written several articles on the intersections of race, trauma, and perinatal mental health.