I’d love to see a series of “want ads” like this. Personal ads placed by professional doulas who are serious about their business of being a doula, aware of the depth of their work, seeking structured and professional supervision. Why would a doula need supervision?
Just this week, a question came across a very popular doula forum about “debriefing” or “venting” with other doulas about traumatic or difficult birth scenarios. Let’s be honest, as doulas we are creating a market revolution of supportive, continuous, compassionate care in very savvy and innovative ways. And this is great because it means more and more families will experience what professional doulas have to offer. More and more care providers will start to see the benefits. More and more demand for us. Which means more births to attend, more systems to navigate, more paper work, more placentas to encapsulate…
Anyone’s palms sweating yet?!
Deep focused Breathing. Feel your breath flow in and out. You’ve prepared for this surge in business. You’ve been trained, perhaps certified to handle the stages of labor and provide support throughout. You’ve honed your skills in touch and talk, bearing witness and reflective listening. You’ve advanced your business skills, done your market analysis and now you can warm chat the hell out of anyone. You know your ideal client. You’re booking 4 births a month and earning a living as a doula, doing your own taxes…Wait, my palms are sweating again.
Some doulas may head into this level of “busi-ness” with eager anticipation only to get knocked back a bit when suddenly the births they’ve been so well trained to attend start to wear us down. Perhaps start to take over emotions a bit. It may start as a reflection of how beautiful a birth was, or how strong that mother was. Perhaps something happened that was different than what was “expected” and as a doula you witness something that hits hard. Maybe you witness a mother experience an unwanted intervention or a difficult transition and suddenly, you find yourself remembering it all.the.time. Feelings surface. Lots of BIG FEELINGS SURFACE.
Now, I’m not saying all your feelings are negative or even as deep as a trigger for your own trauma. No, not all. But some maybe. Even just one emotion that still lingers as you read this. What if just that one feeling impacts you at your next birth? What if you have a hard time staying “present” because that one feeling is still part of your thoughts?
The simple act of being present, especially in birth, impacts us, in that moment in time and in our future way of living. I experienced these impacts early in my career. First, I experienced it as a heart aching compassion for the parents of the children living with autistic spectrum diagnosis. Next, by the penetrating grief of working with hospice families facing the deaths of their loved ones. Currently, what I experience is a mix of oxytocin rush, the dynamics of my own relationships and the ever present push to grow my birth business for world doula domination! (Ok, maybe just big enough to pay all my bills and give back a little.) Really, I’m a whole mess of emotions most of the time, so in some ways WE may not be that different from one another. One difference I do see is that I can attest, from personal and professional experience, my doula friends, is that you should consider that you need more than just a “place to vent about a birth” or “someone to decompress with.” You should consider for the sake of sustainablity as a professional doula that you too may need some skilled support. I did. After years of trying to bear it all myself, and process it all myself, hanging out with other doulas venting over Venti Mochas I realized,
I needed ongoing, structured and creative supervision in order to best fulfill my role as a birth worker.
For me, the answer to my unspoken “want ad” for serious support came in the form of a colleague asking me to participate in peer supervision. After my first two hour online peer supervision session everything felt lighter. I felt more connected, creative and aware. My movement felt fluid, my work more manageable. My motivation had returned. My work had more purpose.
We recently published some of the results in the New Jersey Association of Music Therapy’s first ever online journal Music Therapy Clinician. Since then, I have not looked back, never been busier or felt more balanced. The road to maintaining that balance and achieving wellness as a birth worker feels less bumpy now and I see a few more “fueling” stations along horizon then before. I know I can always turn to supervision for a hospitable respite, re-framing or a recharge before heading back down “Doula Road.”
This is why I offer structured, supportive supervision for doulas and other birth workers, music therapists and even consultations for parents seeking balance and mental wellness. I believe there is a need for confidential and competent supervision in the childbirth profession. I can relate to what you’re experiencing. I can offer you an assessment to help you determine what you may be experiencing. I can listen. I can reflect. I can try to understand and I can try to help you understand. I can offer you unique and creative ways of processing what you witness as a birth worker, what you need as a professional and where you’re headed in life as a doula. As a MT-BC, I adhere to a scope of practice and function under a code of ethics both of which consider the confidentiality of anyone I’m working with with the utmost importance and respect. Therefore, what you process with me, stays with me. What I offer is supervision, not socialization. So while I may be sipping a venti mocha while we engage in your supervision and the caring I offer feels like a trusted friend, I am not a friend. I’m a professional supervisor and you will be safe to share any and all reactions you have, judgements you make or feelings that surface from all aspects of your birthing business.
Please contact me, Kate Taylor, MA, MTBC at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.birthmusic.net for more information. Online group services for pre and perinatal music therapists are now available through the exclusive PPMT Supervision Group co-sponsored with Interlude Perinatal Support Services.
Email email@example.com for more information about joining our next online series.