17 years ago, Amy Chavez (BA HAS ’11, MA HAS ’13) paused her college career in order to raise her two daughters, now 16 and 13. While raising her children, Amy became a doula, studied herbalism, received her associate degree in science, a massage therapy license, and became a childbirth educator and prenatal yoga instructor.
In the next few years, she studied craniosacral therapy for adults and newborns. This started her interest in birth trauma. In 2005, she became certified in Somatic Trauma Resolution Therapy, “to work deeply with trauma of all kinds with people in a safe way.”
Amy learned about Goddard College in 2009 while at an herbal teachers’ training in Vermont with Rosemary Gladstar. She explains, “I was very excited to find a program that was focused in the health arts and sciences that allowed me to combine and integrate my years of exploration and practice within an academic container.”
In 2011, Amy completed her BA degree in Health Arts & Sciences (BA HAS) with a focus on the holistic training and care of birth care providers, whose daily work delivering babies and caring for mothers can be exhausting, and at times even traumatic.
Now completing her MA degree in Health Arts and Sciences, Amy draws on her interdisciplinary skill set in order to transform birth culture.
Here is our interview:
Q: What were some highlights of your Goddard College experience in the BA HAS program?
Amy: I really appreciated the ability to go deep into my studies at the residencies. It was an incredible opportunity to inquire, research, reflect, and converse with other students and faculty who were also engaged in that deep learning journey. The diversity of health arts faculty was a huge attraction for me, and the program felt well rounded and rich with knowledge and expertise.
Q. What was the title and topic of your BA senior study?
Amy: For my senior study, I developed a professional retreat and wrote an accompanying paper called, “Safety as a Somatic Experience for Birth Care Providers.” I offered a Red Tent Retreat for birth care providers to learn about the psychophysiology of labor and birth, the neurobiology of trauma, and the role that safety plays in the birth process for both the mother and the care providers.
Q: How has your BA work informed your livelihood?
Amy: The truth is they informed each other, my work and my research. At the time I was working on my BA, I was also working as an apprentice home birth midwife in a Plain Church midwifery practice. The BA HAS program gave me the opportunity and tools to dive into my birth care work with new lenses, to see what I could be doing differently, to look and listen to my clients in fresh ways, and to understand the whole birth experience from the perspectives of the mother, doula, midwife, trauma therapist, and objective researcher. I use all of this in my practice now.
Q: You are currently completing a thesis in the MA HAS program at Goddard College. Tell us about your MA thesis and where you expect the MA will lead you.
Amy: My Master’s thesis definitely builds on the foundation of my BA work. At first, I thought I would focus my graduate studies on midwifery skills, to become a licensed midwife (even though that license is not recognized in my own state of Ohio.) However, shortly into my Master’s work, I realized that I wanted to go deeper with the trauma/ safety work and to be able teach safety as a somatic experience to care providers and student care providers as well as to pregnant women. This is my passionate call right now. I am deepening this work with research into vulnerability, shame, and archetypal and developmental psychology. I hope that my work will offer new language and a deeper understanding to bridge the gaps between pregnant women and their health care providers.
I have just started working on a project for the Georgetown University Program of Nurse Midwives, to collaborate on a webinar about the psychophysiology of labor and birth. It’s a great next step!
Visit this page for more information on Goddard’s partnership with Birthwise Midwifery school. Scholarships are available!