Pre-conference Session

The Neurobiology of Trauma and Attachment -  Why pregnancy is an
opportunity for healing

Jan Ference, 
BeD, Ms in Counselling, IPMHF (Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellow)

October 7- 8, 2019 | Richmond, BC

Session Description

When a person is exposed to chronic stress, trauma, violence and/or neglect, brain development is impacted in a significant way. This in turn influences daily function, and the ability to develop in a typical manner. Science is teaching us that adversity has a direct correlation to both emotional and physical health that can be passed onto future generations. We are also learning that the quality and nature of the early attachment relationship is more imperative than we ever understood. How does this information relate to your role as a Maternity Care Provider? How can it support the dyads in your care to begin the healing process from a neurobiological perspective? Lastly, but most importantly, how can we find hope in our work when caring for such complex families?

For two days we will explore the neuroscience that is informing evidence-based practice for promoting attachment and helping to break the cycle of trauma and adversity. This is an opportunity to take a deeper dive into the underlying mechanisms that drive challenging behaviour, stress, and anxiety that can all be ever present during the perinatal period. There will be an opportunity to explore cases in your practice to better consolidate the new concepts. This is a time for learning, reflection and dialogue to support the immensely important work you do every day.


Day 1 - Monday, October 7th: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM (Registration opens at 8:30 AM)
Day 2 - Tuesday, October 8th: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Coffee and tea provided for morning and afternoon breaks - lunch is not provided.  

The Westin`s onsite restaurant, The Apron, is located on the lobby level.  Some of the offsite dining options are listed here.


Registration now open!  Click here for registration information & fees.

About the speaker

Jan Ference, BEd, MS in Counselling, IPMHF (Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellow) 

Jan has spent her entire career working with at-risk children. She completed her Bachelor of Education at the University of Victoria, and got her first teaching job in an inner city school. She quickly realized that she wanted to know more about the social emotional well-being of the complex children she was teaching. She completed a Master’s in Counselling  at the University of Portland. About seven years ago while managing a behavior resource department for a school district, her colleague suggested she attend a three-day workshop on trauma, and that was Jan’s first exposure to Dr. Bruce Perry’s model. From that day on, she was inspired to change her practice and the systems that serve the most vulnerable children. Jan was lucky enough to work for two years at the NMT (neuromuscular therapy)  Canadian flagship agency, Hull Services, in Calgary, Alberta. She had the honour to work as the Clinical Director, and focus on the implementation of NMT in an in-patient setting.

As of April 1, 2016, she has been leading a specialized, early intervention, trauma team. This team has had inspiring outcomes working intensely with women in the perinatal period who have opioid use challenges. They have been able to facilitate community system change based on the rich learnings gained from the perinatal work.

Lastly, Jan has completed an Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship through University of California. This fellowship has been life changing, as the knowledge and understanding of early care giving experiences is the key to understanding all life experiences that follow.  

BC Association of Pregnancy Outreach Programs |

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