INSPIRING WOMEN SERIES | LICENSED THERAPIST, EMMA BENNETT

hylah-hedgepeth-photography-bw-D73A6439-Edit.jpg
It doesn’t matter how much you want to be a mother, how hard you’ve tried to have a baby, or how much support you have—this transition is full of highs and lows. The range of emotions is nothing to be ashamed of or stay silent about, this just perpetuates the unrealistic expectations society places upon new parents.  I am a strong believer in normalizing the struggles of motherhood. There is a need for support from the moment a women decides she wants to become a mother.  I’m honored to be a support to women during this season of life.
— Emma Bennett, Licensed Therapist

AO: As a licensed psychotherapist why have you chosen to specialize in women and mothers?

EM: I have always been drawn to working with women and mothers, and have worked with them in various therapeutic settings for almost a decade in Los Angeles. I knew I wanted to be a mother from an early age. I am fortunate to have wonderful maternal role models in my life who inspired me and amazed me with their patience and caring (thanks, mom!). 

 In 2016, I was grateful to be able to have a spirited and wonderful little girl.  I quickly realized that despite deeply wanting to become a mother and taking all of the preparation classes, I felt completely unprepared for the emotional, physical and identity changes that I encountered.

It doesn’t matter how much you want to be a mother, how hard you’ve tried to have a baby, or how much support you have—this transition is full of highs and lows. The range of emotions is nothing to be ashamed of or stay silent about, this just perpetuates the unrealistic expectations society places upon new parents.  I am a strong believer in normalizing the struggles of motherhood. There is a need for support from the moment a women decides she wants to become a mother.  I’m honored to be a support to women during this season of life.

AO: Most of us year about “postpartum depression” or “baby blues”, what do these actually mean?  

EM: About 80% of women experience baby blues after birth.  Baby blues should resolve within a couple of weeks, and is not considered a disorder since the majority of mothers experience it (Bennett & Indam, 2015). 

Postpartum depression is depression that can occur following the birth of a baby.  Mothers who experience postpartum depression can experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, lack of connection to baby, overwhelm and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to function in their daily life.  Postpartum depression impacts about 1 in 5 women.  It is not uncommon for a woman to experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy as well (National Institute of Mental Health).

AO: What types of issues do you work with women on?

EM: I work with a myriad of issues surrounding this stage of life.  Some issues include:  perinatal mood and anxiety disorders,  adult daughters of difficult mothers, ambivalence during pregnancy/postpartum, adjustment to motherhood, perfectionism in motherhood, pregnancy loss, challenges of being a working mother, feelings of isolation, feelings of inadequacy/guilt/shame, feelings of anger, relationship issues+boundary setting, communication issues, postpartum body image, social media comparison/pressure, motherhood + identity shift, making yourself a priority.

AO: For all of our mamas out there, what are some signs or feelings that might indicate that we could use some more support?

EM: I believe that every mother could benefit from therapy because this perinatal period is so profound.  Even if you feel “fine,” it can be helpful to have a safe and nonjudgmental space to process the emotions and issues that can arise with motherhood.

If you are on the fence of whether therapy might be the right fit for you, I would consider if you are feeling overwhelmed or concerned by current feelings or symptoms, if you are having a difficult time coping, or if you are having a difficult time currently functioning in daily life. 

If a mother ever feels as though she cannot keep herself or her baby safe, call 911 as this is a psychiatric emergency and immediate support is needed.

AO: Where does a woman go to find the support she needs?

EM: I’m a believer in giving wraparound support.  Having a holistic approach to support is what can help a woman feel held during this transition.  I believe in psychotherapy, support groups, mommy + me groups, acupuncture, chiropractic work, physical therapy, exercise groups, and doulas to name some of the wonderful supports we have available in our community.  When I work with women, I often refer to many of my community partners who can help support the mother in overall wellness.

AO: We should mention that you are a mother of one yourself, with baby #2 on the way...has being a mother changed your approach or practice?

EM:  Being a mother has changed how I practice immensely.  It has deepened my empathy, humility, patience and sense of humor (because sometimes the ridiculousness of motherhood just makes you laugh).  Being a mother has changed so much of who I am, my practice is just one of the dimensions I have noticed a shift.

AO: You offer many different ways for women to work with you, can you describe those for us?

EM: I provide both concierge services and in-office therapy for women on the Westside of Los Angeles.  Additionally, I provide walk-and-talk therapy for moms who are looking to have a session outside.  The integrative walk-and-talk therapy can be wonderful for getting mothers outside and grounded.  Lastly, I lead supportive mommy+me groups in Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey and the South Bay.

AO: What are you favorite resources for women’s mental health right now? (Books, websites, Instagram handles?)

EM: I love This Isn’t What I Expected by Karen Kleiman.  I also love What No One Tells You by Alexandra Sacks MD.

For podcasts, I recommend Mom&Mind, The Longest Shortest Time and Atomic Moms. 

I post a lot of content about new motherhood on my instagram @therapyfornewmoms.  I also suggest following @alexandrasacksmd for content about motherhood that will resonate.

AO: What is your current self care must have/do?

EM: Asking for help when I feel overwhelmed, setting boundaries and lowering/adjusting unrealistic expectations.

AO: What/Who is inspiring your right now?

EM: My daughter is my continued inspiration and greatest teacher.  She helps me see my strengths and weaknesses, and teaches me to love myself—imperfections and all.

AO: Also, if there is a tool or practice you’d like to share, we could do that as well?

EM: A helpful practice for moms is to acknowledge the expectations that they have or have internalized from society and compare that to the reality of actual motherhood.  The discrepancies can cause many uncomfortable feelings for us!  It’s important to readjust expectations and also discard any unreasonable expectation myth of motherhood that isn’t serving you.  One of my favorite quotes by Jill Churchill is “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”


Resources

Mamas, we see you. Here are some resources if you are looking for support.

You can ask your OBGYN for local therapists/support groups in your area.

You can check out Postpartum Support International’s website- they have a warm line to talk to support, local coordinators in your area who can help connect you to support, and a database of providers who are specialists! (Postpartum.net)

If you are in LA county, Maternal Mental Health Now has a LA wide database for providers who specialize in working with perinatal mental health (https://www.maternalmentalhealthnow.org)


Name: Emma Bennett

Occupation: Licensed Therapist

Website: https://www.therapyfornewmoms.com/

Instagram: @therapyfornewmoms