Working with grief, distress and anxiety in the context of perinatal loss: A CBT approach: WORKSHOP PRESENTATION ONLINE via ZOOM

Registration closes @12 noon on 24.01.23

Description of the workshop:

Reproductive loss is common and will influence many in their journey to parenthood. 1 in 5 women will experience miscarriage, and this does not include those affected by other losses including terminations, ectopic pregnancies, stillbirth, neonatal death or SIDS. The loss of a baby is a devastating event at a time when parents are expecting joy and new life. Perinatal loss can be traumatic, commonly occurring suddenly and sometimes without clear understanding of the reason for the loss. Emotional responses to perinatal loss may include fear, anger, shame, guilt, loneliness and helplessness. Grief in the context of perinatal loss may last an indeterminate amount of time and has unique considerations when compared to other kinds of bereavement.

A significant proportion of women who experience perinatal loss will experience psychological distress and mental health problems which will persist. Studies have found elevated depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms in samples of women who have experienced various kinds of reproductive loss (Daugirdaitė et al., 2015; Farren et al., 2016; Gold et al., 2014; Gold et al., 2016; Hunter et al., 2017). Research also suggests that perinatal loss is a risk factor for antenatal anxiety in future pregnancies (Bayrampour et al., 2018).

This workshop will help participants to understand the psychological factors associated with perinatal loss and how this can be considered within a cognitive behavioural framework. We will consider treatment adaptations when working with grief in the context of other mental health difficulties and how as therapists we can also hold the couple relationship and children in mind. A combination of teaching, case examples and interactive exercises will be used.

Learning objectives:

  • To understand what is meant by ‘perinatal loss’ and to understand how grief in the context of perinatal loss can affect women and families, and how it may be similar or different to other kinds of bereavement.
  • To be able to effectively assess psychological difficulties in the context of perinatal loss using a CBT framework, with consideration to perinatal specific factors, developmental history and relationship with others.
  • To use an assessment to differentiate between grief and other mental health difficulties which may need intervention and to inform when to intervene.
  • To identify key cognitive, emotional and behavioural processes that are likely to maintain distress and may interfere with the process of grief. We will consider how disorder specific and idiosyncratic CBT formulations can be applied in this context.
  • To understand how CBT interventions can be applied in the context of a formulation that includes loss, and where other CBT informed approaches (e.g., CFT, ACT) can be useful when working with loss and grief.
  • To consider how working within the couple relationship can support adjustment to loss and alleviate distress.
  • To consider how to help women and couples prepare for a new pregnancy following a perinatal loss.


Bayrampour, H., Vinturache, A., Hetherington, E., Lorenzetti, D. L., & Tough, S. (2018). Risk factors for antenatal anxiety: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of reproductive and infant psychology, 36(5), 476-503.

Daugirdaitė, V., van den Akker, O., & Purewal, S. (2015). Post Traumatic stress and posttraumatic stress disorder after termination of pregnancy and reproductive loss: a systematic review. Journal of pregnancy, 2015.

Farren, J., Jalmbrant, M., Ameye, L., Joash, K., Mitchell-Jones, N., Tapp, S., … & Bourne, T. (2016). Post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression following miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy: a prospective cohort study. BMJ open, 6(11), e011864.

Gold, K. J., Boggs, M. E., Muzik, M., & Sen, A. (2014). Anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder 9 months after perinatal loss. General hospital psychiatry, 36(6), 650-654.

Gold, K. J., Leon, I., Boggs, M. E., & Sen, A. (2016). Depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms after perinatal loss in a population-based sample. Journal of women’s health, 25(3), 263-269.

Hunter, A., Tussis, L., & MacBeth, A. (2017). The presence of anxiety, depression and stress in women and their partners during pregnancies following perinatal loss: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 223, 153-164.


Kyla Vaillancourt

Kyla trained as a Clinical Psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at University of London. Since qualification, she completed a further postgraduate qualification in Cognitive Behavioural Couples Therapy and has specialised in perinatal mental health. Kyla is passionate about supporting the mental health of parents and has worked in NHS specialist Perinatal Mental Health settings since 2016. She has supervised other psychological therapists working with women in the perinatal period, including IAPT practitioners. She has co-written an e-learning module for the Royal College of Psychiatrists on perinatal anxiety disorders. Currently, she is employed as a Principal Clinical Psychologist leading on the development of new Maternal Mental Health Services in South East London, which will focus on the needs of women who experience anxiety, trauma or loss in the context of their maternity journey.

Prior to training as a Clinical Psychologist, Kyla worked in research settings focused on infant development and parent-infant relationships. She is currently involved with research focusing on the parent-infant relationship in the context of perinatal mental health problems.

Sarah Healy

Dr. Sarah Healy trained as a Clinical Psychologist at University College London and has over 15 years of perinatal mental health experience, including extensive experience delivering evidence-based psychological therapies to women in the perinatal period. Clinically, she has experience working in roles across the care pathway, including as the Perinatal Lead in an IAPT service, and as a Clinical Psychologist in two specialist perinatal teams. She holds postgraduate qualifications in CBT, EMDR and Behavioural Couples Therapy and has also trained in CFT, and ACT.

Sarah is currently the Clinical Director of the Perinatal Psychology Practice, an independent service, providing evidence based treatment for clients in the perinatal period.   She is also an Associate Clinical Tutor at UCL, a Visiting Lecturer on the Tavistock Perinatal Mental Health Post Graduate Module and has recently published, alongside Prof. Heather O’Mahen at the University of Exeter, the  IAPT Perinatal Competency Framework, with an to update the IAPT Perinatal Positive Practice Guide following soon.

Additional Information

Cancellation & changes policy

If you cancel more than 14 days prior to your booked event, we will refund your fee minus a charge of 15% to cover our administration costs. We regret that cancellations 14 days or less before the booked event cannot be refunded or changed/transferred.

If you wish to change/transfer your booking after confirmation we will do our best to accommodate you if you notify us 14 days prior to your booked event, and if there is space to do so. However there will be an administration charge of £15 per change/transfer.


Workshops often contain clinical material. This is always anonymised as far as possible but delegates are none the less reminded to respect confidentiality.

All that is discussed in your therapy sessions will be treated as confidential, with the following exceptions.
We are required to seek supervision by our professional body (The British Psychological Society or equivalent) as a means of ensuring good practice. We will usually inform your referrer of your progress, but the details that we disclose will be discussed with you. We do have a statutory obligation to break confidentiality under rare circumstances, namely, if we believe that a client is of danger to themselves or to others (under the Mental Health Act, 2001) or if we believe that a child is at actual risk of physical or sexual abuse (The Children Act, Section 47, 1989).

If we felt that it would be helpful to request additional medical, social or legal information, we could only do this with your consent. Similarly, should another medical, social or legal professional request information from us, we would not release this without your consent.


OCTC makes every effort to ensure that this programme is delivered as advertised. However, should a presenter have to cancel, we will endeavour to find another suitable presenter. We will inform attendees as soon as is reasonably practical and, if requested, will offer a refund. In the rare event that we are unable to substitute a presenter, we may cancel a workshop and refund payments already made by attendees. OCTC will not refund travel and accommodation costs that attendees may incur.
All the workshops in this programme are carried out by highly experienced therapists and trainers. The individual presenter is responsible for the content of the workshop and any views expressed do not necessarily represent those of OCTC.
Although highly informative, none of the open workshops or workshop series confer a formal qualification or assurance of competence in CBT (or a specialist area of CBT) since we are unable to assess attendee competency within the training event. However, credit and award-bearing courses that lead to formal qualifications are offered by OCTC in conjunction with the University of Oxford. More about these courses is available on our website

Levels of competence

Before booking a place on a workshop, please ensure that it is pitched at the appropriate level of competence for you. The guide to levels is as follows:


Basic workshops are for people from a variety of backgrounds, who have at least one year’s clinical experience. Cognitive behavioural knowledge is not necessary for attendance at these workshops, though in practice, a number of attendees will have some skills in the area, and are refreshing/updating their knowledge.


Intermediate workshops are directed towards people who already have knowledge of CBT, and experience in using cognitive formulations and treatment methods – for instance, they are able to identify and test automatic thoughts, and design behavioural experiments. Most participants will be using CBT as part of their clinical practice, and may still be acquiring new CBT skills.


Advanced courses are directed towards those professionals who use CBT routinely as part of their clinical practice. They have probably undertaken a significant number of training courses and/or workshops, and use a broad range of cognitive behavioural strategies to work with a range of presentations at varying levels of complexity.

Making reservations

Bookings can only be considered confirmed after we have received your online registration or application form and payment (or invoicing details, including an official purchase order document).

The registration closing date for each workshop is shown on the workshop description page.  Please note that no applications received after this deadline will be permitted.

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The cost of the workshops includes hot drinks on arrival, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, but not usually lunch unless stated. However, for workshops that do include lunch, if you have any special dietary requirements please let us know at the time of application.

Special needs

We welcome applications from diverse backgrounds. If you have any particular needs, please contact us
prior to booking.