When Survivors Give Birth

"When Survivors Give Birth" courses will prepare anyone working with childbearing women to gain knowledge and skills working with women who express emotional concerns about childbearing. This training is one-of-a-kind workshop, which is the culmination of decades of collaboration between Penny Simkin, PT, CCE, CD(DONA), and Phyllis Klaus, MFT, LMSW. Together they also wrote the 2004 book of the same name, When Survivors Give Birth. Join maternity care, mental health, and allied providers to focus on the issues of the least understood of pregnant clients.

About "When Survivors Give Birth"

This important client care workshop focuses on understanding and healing the effects of childhood sexual abuse on childbearing women.

  • Advance your understanding of an all-too-common issue for childbearing women and families.
  • Expand your care practices for women at risk of poor physical and psychosocial childbirth outcomes.
  • Improve your response to women who express emotional concerns about childbearing.

There are two different formats to choose from:

  • When Survivors Give Birth – Foundational Training (One day Training).
  • When Survivors Give Birth – Foundational and Advanced Training (Two Day Training).

Workshop Description


  • Cultivate an in-depth understanding of childhood sexual abuse and other forms of trauma
  • Learn the impact trauma and childhood sexual abuse have on children and teens, adults, pregnancy, labor, the postpartum period, and breast/bodyfeeding
  • Understand the connection between a childhood trauma history and intimate partner violence
  • Understand the connection between a childhood trauma history and substance use
  • Learn how to inquire about a client’s abuse history and how to respond to a disclosure
  • Develop a framework for understanding power differentials in maternal/perinatal healthcare
  • Improve your understanding of vicarious trauma and the importance of practitioner self-care
  • Increase knowledge of strategies and tools for working with survivor clients before, during, and after birth
  • Discover more about perinatal mood disorders and their connection to trauma
  • Learn additional resources for working with trauma survivors
  • Advance your communication skills, including active listening and containment strategies
  • Understand when to refer to other colleagues/professionals
  • Leave this training more able to serve pregnant, birthing, and postpartum people who have a history of childhood sexual abuse and/or other trauma


Required Texts


When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on the Childbearing Woman by Penny Simkin, PT, CCE, CD(DONA), and Phyllis Klaus, MFT, LMSW

The only book of its kind, When Survivors Give Birth, provides survivors and their maternity caregivers with extensive information on the prevalence and short- and long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse, emphasizing its possible impact on childbearing women. Challenges in the client-caregiver relationship are thoroughly portrayed, with much practical advice for improving trust and communication as well as self-help techniques to handle abuse-related distress. Chapters on birth counseling, psychotherapy, and clinical care of survivors make this book a useful resource for survivors and all who work with them (450 pages).


Selena Shelley, MA, LMHC, CD, LCCE

Selena is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a When Survivors Give Birth Approved Trainer, and Adjunct Faculty for the Department of Midwifery at Bastyr University. She has a psychotherapy and consultation practice in the Seattle area and specializes in working with pregnant and postpartum trauma survivors. Selena was trained and mentored by Penny Simkin and Phyllis Klaus, authors of the groundbreaking book When Survivors Give Birth, and facilitates trainings for perinatal and reproductive health professionals - including nurses, psychotherapists, doulas, midwives, social workers, doctors, and sexual assault advocates. Selena has been working with pregnant, birthing, and postpartum trauma survivors for over 25 years – first as a case manager with teen parents, then as a doula and childbirth educator, and for the past 13 years as a psychotherapist and trauma consultant. She also helped develop and run the Birth Doula Services Program for Open Arms Perinatal Services in Seattle. In all her work, Selena has witnessed how transformative the right kind of support and care can be for trauma survivors. To that end, she believes training professionals how to work more easily and effectively with trauma survivors is some of the most important work in perinatal and public health, and she is honored to be facilitating this When Survivors Give Birth training for the Simkin Center

For more information, call us at 425.602.3378

Upcoming Sessions

No workshops currently scheduled. Please contact simkincenter@bastyr.edu to be notified when new workshops are planned.