OT + Pre and Perinatal Psychology
Updated: Sep 26
An interview with Donna Seegers Abler, OTR/L, PPNE
Donna Seegers Abler, OTR/L, PPNE, earned a BS in occupational therapy from Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1985. She graduated from APPPAH Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology Certification Program in June 2019 and practices as a Pre and Perinatal Psychology Educator (PPNE).
Donna has a background in preterm NICU experience and infant development and combines years of researched-based interventions with integrative modalities, including Healing Touch for Babies, advanced energy practices, heart rhythm meditation, and breathwork training.
Her studies in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology expanded her professional work and provided her own inner work healing through her own personal birth story journey. PPN has validated her knowing of babies in utero being aware, sentient beings. It has refined how she practices, which now includes a multi-systems model of practice with PPNE, trauma-informed perspectives, and a psychospiritual framework.
PPN has provided deeper respect and interest in understanding her clients in utero and birth imprints and how they impact one’s current bonding, mindsets, behaviors, mental health, and wellness. She has changed her style of evaluation from ‘what’s wrong with you, and what do we need to fix,’ to exploring deeper into ‘what happened to you, and where do you need safety, love, and protection to heal.’
PPN has shifted Donna’s practice to honor the infant/child as a whole being. It has opened a paradigm shift in guiding expecting parents inward to reconnect with themselves and their babies on an expanded model of practice that affords greater outcomes for deeper healing in her clients.
In this interview, Donna shares her professional knowledge and personal insights into how this area of practice blends with occupational therapy in women’s health.
For those who are new to this area of practice, what exactly is Pre and Perinatal Psychology?
Pre and Perinatal Psychology is the field of study that focuses on one’s earliest experiences from preconception, development in the womb, the birth process, and the first postnatal year. It looks at how these first experiences influence one’s ability to survive or thrive in life as a whole Being.
Pre and Perinatal Psychology incorporates research and clinical experiences from leading-edge fields such as epigenetics, biodynamic embryology, infant mental health and attachment, early trauma, developmental neurosciences, and consciousness studies.
How did your OT career lead you to this fascinating area of practice specialization?
I was drawn to the idea of ‘caring for humanity’ from an excerpt of an OT graduation speech in 1929. OT pioneer Thomas Bessel Kinder spoke, “In your chosen field, a part of the noblest work of man-the care and relief of weak and suffering humanity-may you realize in kindness, humanity, decency, honor, good faith- to give these up under any circumstances would be a greater loss than any defeat, or even death itself.”
In my practice as an OT, especially my work in the NICU, I was drawn to work on a more expanded model of development, one that included the psychospiritual development of the human being. I was guided to the Association of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) through networking. APPPAH’s vision statement indicates, “Every baby is welcomed, seen and nurtured to their fullest expression as a conscious and aware being.” This was in deep alignment with me as I am passionate about supporting a healthier, more conscious humanity with awake human beings.
What does this niche area offer OTs who specialize in this area of women’s health?
Michel Odent says, “To change the world we must first change the way babies are being born.”
And, so, I began to dive into this niche area of practice. It is an area of practice that offers other OTs an opportunity to practice in an expanded practice frame of reference beyond the biopsychosocial model.
In order to change the way babies are being born, I believe we must first change the way women experience the western birthing industry. This paradigm shift encompasses bringing women back to their psychospiritual selves, re-empowering them, and reconnecting them with their innate inner knowing and consciousness. It’s a niche that encompasses a bigger opportunity to shift the consciousness of humanity by shifting our framework of practice. It’s a deeper way of ‘caring for humanity.’
What does Donna have on the horizon in this specialty area?....
Donna is writing and publishing a sacred pregnancy journal, Love Me In. It is a guided journal with heart-based practices to guide expecting parents inward to reduce stress, nourish self, consciously imprint Divine qualities in utero, bond deeply with their baby, and confidently create a nourishing womb environment to support a thriving new life.
Donna is actively creating online programming for monthly pregnancy circles, conscious pregnancy mentoring, Calm Birth Childbirth classes, and coaching mamas in infant development.
Donna Seegers Abler, OTR/L, PNNE
Bachelor of Science: Mount Mary University (1985)
APPPAH Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology Certification Program (2019)
Donna currently resides and practices in Wisconsin. If you wish to connect with her to learn more about her specialized practice style, approach, and method of intervention, or have questions specifically about pursuing this area of practice, you can connect with her at Donna@Donnaseegersabler.com or visit her professional website www.DonnaSeegersAbler.com