Frequently Asked Questions

The SMC focuses on managing emotions, relationships and trauma reactions during pregnancy. It's done by phone.

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Q: I’m a mom-to-be who is also a trauma survivor. How can I participate in the Survivor Moms’ Companion program?

A: Thank you for your interest in Survivor Moms’ Companion (SMC). It is important for you to know, however, that SMC is not a “self-help” program.

Survivors who are pregnant or have just become moms learn how to manage thoughts and feelings about childhood trauma
as they develop a supportive relationship with an SMC tutor. Each SMC tutor is trained to teach you these skills, help you practice them, and assist you in processing the feelings that may come up during the learning process.

We understand that you may want and need this program now. We recognize that you may need support as you face the coming challenges. At this time, however, SMC is a brand-new intervention that is just being introduced in prenatal, early parenting, and mental health service settings.

As more tutors get trained and begin offer SMC tutoring around the nation, we will be better able to connect inquiring Survivor Moms to providers in their area. For the time being, we suggest that you ask your prenatal or early parenting service provider to visit our website at www.survivormoms.org or email info@survivormoms.org to learn more about becoming an SMC tutor.

For those who need support, we recommend a resource that connects survivors with therapists trained in helping those who have experienced trauma. It is not a “hot line” in that they do not provide mental health assistance themselves, but rather maintain a listing of trauma-informed therapists across the country. To reach them call 410-825-8888, EXT. 102 and leave a message, or email that you are looking for help to: help@sidran.org.

Another source for finding support is Postpartum Support International. There is a place on their site to help connect parents to local providers who are trained to help with any mental health challenges you might be having: https://www.postpartum.net/get-help/locations/

You may also want to pursue reading material and explore the following resources for survivor moms. Note that some of these may have information that is triggering of past trauma for the reader, especially if some of the stories are similar to experiences you may have had.

The first resource is a book (“Survivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering, and Health after Sexual Abuse”) written by the creators of the SMC program:
https://www.amazon.com/Survivor-Moms-Stories-Birthing-Mothering/dp/1890446416

This is an article written by a “survivor mom” who discusses how parenting might be a “trigger” to symptoms of posttraumatic stress: https://themighty.com/2017/04/childhood-abuse-survivors-becoming-parents-what-to-know-about-ptsd/. The author of this article also co-authored a book on parenting with posttraumatic stress: http://www.joyellebrandt.com/non-fiction.

This is a review of a book written by survivors of childhood abuse who discuss their experiences of parenting: https://acestoohigh.com/2015/11/12/trigger-points-finally-a-book-for-parents-who-survived-child-abuse/

These two articles in professional journals highlight some of the experiences of survivors of childhood sexual abuse who are mothers and call attention to some of the parenting challenges that may exist for survivors:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5933442/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5088265/

Q: Who can become an SMC Tutor?

A. Nurses, social workers, psychologists, midwives, physicians, doulas, health educators, community outreach workers, or other experienced staff can become SMC Tutors.

Q: What is involved in training to become a tutor?

A. Training to become a SMC tutor currently involves remote video-facilitated training over 6 sessions, or, post-pandemic, a weekend-long in-person training. There is homework ahead of training sessions, and the training itself centers on hands-on practice of the tutoring skills. You also complete a “training case” with close support of your supervisor.

Q: Is getting training to be a tutor all that is needed to start offering the SMC?

A. In addition to tutor training, in order to start offering the SMC to clients the agency you work with must purchase a SMC license and provide for adequate supervision for you as you tutor clients using the SMC. See below for specific expectations of tutors, agencies, and supervisors.

Q: What is expected of SMC Tutors?

A. Before starting with the SMC, tutors are expected to commit to providing the SMC in the way that it was designed. For specifics, please see these commitments explained in full at: https://survivormoms.org/register/tutor-registration/. But in short:
Tutors work individually with survivor moms who are learning about how past trauma can affect pregnancy and parenting. They will:

  1. Develop a supportive relationship with each mom they tutor—which is central to survivors’ healing
  2. Use workbooks, fidelity guides, assessment and charting tools, checklists, and when appropriate, referral resources, to help clients stay on track
  3. Work with clinical supervisors to provide the best client assistance available

Q: What is expected of SMC Agencies?

A. A summary of what’s expected of agencies appears below. For more specifics, please see the agency commitments explained in full at: https://survivormoms.org/offering-smc-in-your-agency/getting-an-agency-license/.

Agencies apply for, agree to, and purchase SMC licenses, as well as:

  1. Select supervisors to lead SMC implementation
  2. Conduct and oversee the tutor training process
  3. Provide clinical supervision in-house or in partnership with other agencies
  4. Monitor compliance with the program’s methods and goals
  5. Make referrals to other services when appropriate
  6. Maintain license and other related reports for documentation and evaluation purposes

Q: What is expected of SMC Supervisors?

A. A summary of what’s expected of SMC supervisors appears below. For more specifics, please see the commitments explained in full at: https://survivormoms.org/register/supervisor-registration/.

Most Supervisors function in two roles.

  1. As “lead tutors,” Supervisors will:
    1. Teach agency staff about trauma-informed care (using SMC training materials)
    2. Compile referral resources clients might need
    3. Select tutors
    4. Guide tutors through training
    5. Ensure the overall quality of the tutor-client relationships that form the basis for successful client outcomes
  2. As a clinical supervisor of tutors, throughout the duration of the program:
    1. Provides support for crises
    2. Monitors emotional regulation of the tutor
    3. Enhances morale and staff retention
    4. Creates safety by recognizing and mentoring on challenges common to the work (boundaries, secondary trauma, ethical issues, etc.)

Q: What if my agency doesn’t have a clinical supervisor?

A. If your agency/organization’s designated supervisor is not an experienced, licensed clinician, your agency/organization must engage such a person to provide clinical supervision before an SMC agency license can be approved and SMC training can be provided.

Q: I’m an individual practitioner. Can I become an SMC Tutor if I’m not affiliated with an agency?

A: In its current form, SMC is designed to be used by staff operating within the context and structure of a service-providing agency. After we have launched the current, agency version of the intervention, we do plan to develop, pilot, and introduce SMC materials and protocols for individual therapists to use in their private practices. In the meantime, we will keep your contact information on file and notify you when we have video-facilitated remote training opportunities for therapists in private practice, and when in-person SMC training resumes.

Q: Who are “survivor moms” and how can I identify and engage them in SMC Tutoring?

A: Pregnancy and becoming a mother can be hard for anyone. It can be especially difficult for those who have survived adverse or traumatic childhood experiences, such as being abused or neglected. People who have had these experiences sometimes re-experience feelings and reactions related to their childhood trauma during pregnancy, and they can feel very alone with this. It helps them to know they are not the only one and they are not alone—and that there are strategies to manage posttraumatic responses. SMC refers to pregnant women and new mothers who have survived such experiences as “survivor moms.”

SMC is an education program intended for any survivor mom to use during pregnancy or in the early years of parenting. But not every survivor mom will feel ready to use the program.

“The Fitting Room” is a document on the SMC website that is useful to help clients decide whether SMC is right for them. That document may be found here:
https://survivormoms.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/is_smc_right_for_you.pdf

Q: I work with a particular sub-population of Survivor Moms (those who may be incarcerated, or identify as transgender, etc.). Can I change the materials to address their special needs?

A: The short answer is no. Users are NOT authorized to make changes, no matter how minimal, to copyrighted SMC material without express written permission from Growing Forward TogetherTM. However, Growing Forward TogetherTM may be willing to consider authorizing agency efforts to slightly adapt or “tailor” SMC for the needs of particular client populations. We have a formal process to consider, authorize, co-author, and organize the work when tailoring is a good idea. To explore this option, please contact SMC directly at: https://survivormoms.org/contact-us/.

Q: Some survivor moms have a lot going on—severe mental health issues, partner violence, smoking or substance use—is SMC good for them?

A. Good question. Safety is the highest priority, so addressing these safety challenges should come first. Some moms will be able to engage in services for those problems and also use SMC. Others will need to take things one at a time. Tutors can help clients set priorities.

Q: Moms need trauma-related support more than ever now, but we can’t provide in-person services. Can we still provide the SMC?

A. Absolutely! The SMC was designed to be delivered as telehealth if need be — by phone or video. The materials can be printed or read on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The workbook includes fillable spaces for completing the homework.

Q: May I share my SMC materials, videos, and/or access to those materials on the SMC website with colleagues outside my agency?

A: We are delighted to learn that your colleagues are interested in SMC. They may certainly explore the sample materials located on the public-facing pages of the website: https://survivormoms.org/ and call or email us for more information.

However, SMCTM, and its copyrighted materials, is a proprietary program of Growing Forward TogetherTM. If you are using the SMC program, your organization has paid for a license that permits you to access the materials and also provides a structure for safe use. SMC tutoring, supervision, and materials distribution occur only in the setting of an agency or organization holding an end-user license agreement. Therefore, the SMC curriculum and materials may NOT be shared or used outside this context or at variance from the license agreement except by express written permission.

Q: What is Growing Forward TogetherTM?

A. The SMC is the first of a handful of trauma-specific education programs for young adults, childbearing and parenting families, and providers. Growing Forward TogetherTM is the nonprofit organization that oversees the development, study, and use of these programs.