Understanding Trauma for Birth & Death Doulas


What is trauma? What understanding of trauma can best inform birth and death doulas in their work of supporting individuals and families through life’s powerful transitions?

This October, all are invited to engage in a heartfelt inquiry of these questions in an online course presented live and facilitated by Amy Wright Glenn. We draw upon interviews with trauma-informed mental health professionals, the best-selling book “What Happened to You?,” and the wisdom of birth, postpartum, full spectrum, bereavement, divorce, and/or death doulas.

While this course will focus on the work of birth and death doulas, all are welcome.

*Institute members receive 50% off of tuition. Scholarships available.


As birth, postpartum, full spectrum, bereavement, divorce, and/or death doulas, we are called to the bedside of change, hope, fear, love, loss, and transformation. We bravely show up willing to hold space. Given this, we are often witnesses of trauma, past and present.  Understanding trauma ~ in a way that is evidenced-based and drawing upon best practices ~ is key to deepening the work we are called to do in this world.

Wednesdays October 12, 19, & 26
7-9pm EST

This October, join Institute founder/director Amy Wright Glenn for an important and innovative exploration of understanding trauma. Recorded hour-long interviews with Institute teacher and clinical psychologist Melissa Ming Foynes PhD, and Jonathan Labman former director of The Trauma Treatment Project at the Penn Foundation are included in this course.

Participants will read ~ or listen to~ Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey’s book What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing. (Please note that this book is written in a conversational style between Dr. Perry and Oprah Winfrey, so listening to it via an audio platform is recommended.)


Participants will explore the following core principles and apply them to the work of birth and death doulas:

  • The need for a “trauma sensitive and developmentally aware understanding” to permeate how we engage all human endeavors
  • How/why some experiences that last only a few seconds become locked in the brain and impact basic functions
  • How to draw upon the brain’s resiliency to regulate core networks
  • How “attentive, attuned, and responsive caregiving” is key to both healing and creating healthy regulatory networks
  • How “most healing happens in community” (outside of formal therapy) and how “therapeutic moments” grounded in healthy community, ritual, meaning making, and plant medicine offer pathways of hope

Understanding Trauma for Birth & Death Doulas will support your birth & death doula practice, deepen your understanding of human development, and strengthen your capacity to hold space in a way that is attentive, attuned, and responsive to the painful reality of trauma. Webinars are recorded for participants.

All doulas will benefit from this innovative, brave, and transformative course.



“Fire can warm or consume, water can quench or drown, wind can caress or cut.
And so it is with human relationships: we can both create and destroy,
nurture and terrorize, traumatize and heal each other.”
~ Bruce D. Perry


Melissa Ming Foynes ~ (she/her) holds a Ph.D from the University of Oregon, has completed fellowships at Yale University School of Medicine and the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and held academic appointments at Harvard University and Boston University. Melissa is a clinical psychologist, international educator, co-founder of a therapy practice specializing in stress, trauma, grief, and loss, and owner of a holistic coaching practice. She is also a trauma-informed mindfulness, meditation, and yoga teacher, Ayurvedic doula, and host of the podcast The Science and Soul of Living Well. In her podcast, Melissa and her guests offer accessible ways to integrate evidence-based information from psychological science and complementary and alternative medicine into our daily lives so that we can cultivate resilience and live with more meaning, purpose and alignment with our values in all life domains even in the hardest and darkest of times. She has expertise in sexual trauma, interpersonal and institutional betrayal trauma, 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, pregnancy termination) 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, follow her on Instagram @drfoynes or Facebook, listen to her podcast, or visit www.melissafoynes.com or www.openedhearttherapy.com.

Jonathan Labman (he/him) M.A., is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice in Pennsylvania and former Director of The Trauma Treatment Project at the Penn Foundation in Pennsylvania. Jonathan holds an International Baccalaureate degree from United World College of the Atlantic in South Wales, UK. Jonathan holds a 90-hour Trauma Certificate with Bessel van der Kolk and staff. Jonathan also holds the one-year credential the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics from Dr. Bruce Perry, and the Train the Trainer Certification in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.  Jonathan’s passion is to help clients heal, integrate and discover their inherent, natural spirituality. At 65, he is now launching a new online program called Simply Awake, a Direct Path to Spiritual Enlightenment, and writing a book by the same name.  Jonathan’s other books include a memoir called An Ordinary BeingTaming the 3-Ring Circus of the Mind, and Simply Awake: Spiritual Enlightenment, the Simplest Thing. He has contributed chapters to two other books and has an online blog at his website simplyawake.com.