Behind the Scenes
Spotlight: Pec Indman, EdD,MFT
Bio: Dr. Pec Indman is a internationally recognized expert in the field of mental health related to pregnancy and postpartum. In 2002, she was one of the first professionals, along with Dr. Shoshona Bennett, to author a book about postpartum depression. In her private psychotherapy practice, she works with clients experiencing fertility challenges, pregnancy loss, depression and anxiety during pregnancy or postpartum. Dr. Indman is the Chairperson of the Education and Training Committee of Postpartum Support International and speaks all over the world. As an invited participant, she contributes to several federally funded programs on the topic of pregnancy and postpartum mood disorders.
Interview: It is my honor to introduce to you to one of the wise women of the perinatal mental health world, Pec Indman.
I met Pec a few years ago when I completed Postpartum Support International’s training that she and Birdie Meyers were co-teaching. This year, Pec is again teaching at PSI’s pre-conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota in June. She is also presenting a poster about professional, therapeutic online support via Regroup Therapy.
Q: You are quite an activist in many areas of Maternal Mental Health: you are one of the primary instructors for Postpartum Support International and you were one of the first professionals, along with Dr. Shosh, to write a book about perinatal mental illness, Beyond the Blues, in 2002.
When I was a new mom working in the birth field, this book, Beyond the Blues, was the first book I ever read about perinatal mood disorders. This helped solidify my goals of working with women and families around Maternal Mental Health.
Pec, how did you become interested in your particular niche, Maternal Mental Health?
My parents were political activists and feminists. I grew up as a teen in the 1960’s on anti-war and civil rights marches, and women’s meetings in living rooms. I trained as a family practice physician assistant, and worked in family practice and women’s health clinics. I decided to continue my education, and went back to school, getting a Master’s in health psychology and a doctorate in counseling.
About 18 years ago, while in the waiting room of a large OB/GYN practice, I noticed a flyer about Postpartum Support International and postpartum depression. I remember thinking, I must learn more about this; it sounded so important. I jotted down the phone number on the flyer. It was when the PSI office was in the home of Jane Honikman, PSI founder.
I called and spoke to Jane. I have to say that from that point on my life trajectory changed. I was horrified to learn about postpartum depression. And I was (and still am) incredibly angry that all those years of training and education never mentioned this incredibly common and devastating illness.
I jumped in and have never looked back. I joined PSI, and then the Marce Society and NASPOG (North American Society for Psychosocial OB/GYN). I read everything I could, and I attended (and still do) every conference I could afford to attend. This work has become my passion and my life.
Q: I’d love to know more about how the idea came about for your book, Beyond the Blues. There’s got to be a fascinating back story to this wonderful seminal book about perinatal mental illness for the general public.
That’s very flattering! I have to say the story isn’t that exciting. Jane suggested I contact Shoshana Bennett, a ppd survivor, who was leading support groups. We met and realized we had a lot of common goals. Shoshana had been thinking about writing a book, and asked if I’d like to be her co-author. I knew nothing about writing a book, but it sounded like a great idea. We self-published, initially storing the books in my garage, and I shipped out the orders.
We wrote our first edition in 2002. The book was well received, and we sold out of the first edition. We have continued to revise the book, and slightly changed the title several times over the years, updating the information based on current research. The last revision was late 2010. We’ve now sold over 15,000 copies! We had no idea the book would be so well received. The book is bought by individuals on Amazon, or often bought in bulk by organizations or hospital programs. We have a website, http://www.beyondtheblues.com
Q: You are an innovator when it comes to training as well. How did it come about that you began developing and doing the national (and international) trainings for Postpartum Support International?
In 1997 and 1998 PSI offered it’s first basic and advanced trainings on perinatal mental health. I was very proud and excited to be part of these historic events. When PSI needed input on the curriculum and trainers, I volunteered. At that time was also a PSI California coordinator, and the Secretary of Postpartum Health Alliance (a statewide branch of PSI).
I found that I loved creating curriculum; it’s a way to keep current on the research, and taught myself basic Powerpoint. I have to confess that I enjoy incorporating my underwater photos into the PSI trainings. The fish are always able to express a point I’m trying to make.
More recently, I served on the PSI Board of Directors as Chair of the Education and Training Committee. We have continued to refine and update our unique standardized training that has been taught all over the US. Recently Wendy Davis and Birdie Meyer taught the 2 day training in Paris at the Marce Society meeting.
I still continue to attend several perinatal mental health conferences every year. Working on the curriculum and teaching are ways that I can share what I’ve learned with others. I find it very fun and incredibly rewarding. I’ve met wonderful people all over.
Q: Tell us more about your poster presentation at the upcoming PSI conference: Online Therapy and Groups: The Wave of the Future, and your involvement in Regroup Therapy.
Several years ago I was hunted down by David Cohn, one of the founders of Regroup Therapy. He had been working on the idea of using technology to improve access to postpartum depression support groups, but he needed help. I love technology and am aware of how difficult it is for most women to access support for perinatal mental health issues. David and I met, and we hit if off. I agreed to become Director of Women’s Health there. He is passionate about using technology to bring people together.
Regroup therapy uses a computer platform that allows live video interaction online. It is HIPPA compliant and provides built in safety and security features unlike skype. It can be used to run support groups, therapy groups, educational groups, as well as individual or couple therapy. Many women don’t have local access to support groups, or individual therapy with expert providers. Our hope at Regroup is to have daily support groups running. Women can be in a group from their home, or from anywhere they have a computer with internet, a mic and webcam.
We are looking for providers who are interested in working on-line. Please contact David@regrouptherapy.com if you are interested in more info about becoming a provider with us.
Our poster presentation at the PSI conference will discuss some of the issues, challenges and solutions we’ve developed to best provide ethical practice and highly skilled providers.
Q: What are some of your other projects going on now?
Having gone on a wonderful dive trip to Cozumel, Mexico in December, I am of course dreaming about the next trip. No plans yet!
Currently I am working on the update of the PSI curriculum, with Birdie Meyer and Wendy Davis. The pre-conference 2 day training in Minneapolis, Minnesota in June will be a newly updated version. We are also presenting the training in Chicago in August.
I’m also working with the California Mental Health Collaborative, and continuing to do trainings for a variety of organizations.
So, between my private practice, Regroup, and my family, I feel like my life is full and rewarding!
Q: Do you have some professional mentoring-type advice to those clinicians who are working tirelessly in the perinatal mood disorders world?
First, I want to hug everyone who does this work. I have never met such a wonderful group of people! We all know how important this work is, and that the work we do has an incredible ripple effect on the family and community.
Keep learning and staying up to date! Read articles and attend conferences. Two big ones this year are the PSI conference (www.postpartum.net) in June in Minnesota, and the North American Society for Psychosocial OB/GYN (www.naspog.org) conference in Chicago in Nov.
I often notice that we still have such a long way to go in the US. But, having worked in the field for over 20 years now, I also notice how far we have come! The work you do makes a tremendous impact!
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
I want to thank you, Kathy!
Namaste, Pec, thank you for your ground breaking work!
You’re a bright spot in this world!