Dr. Joanna Cole, PhD, PMH-C, Keynote Speaker

In her role as clinical psychologist and manager of psychosocial services for the Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment (CFDT), Joanna Cole, PhD, PMH-C, leads the psychosocial service team available to families facing the diagnosis of a birth defect. Working closely with the medical team, social workers and child life specialists, Dr. Cole provides comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and counseling, ensuring that families feel emotionally supported every step of the way. Her work includes evaluating for preexisting mental health conditions or issues of safety and determining the risk for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Cole also provides options counseling and grief support and is involved in the development of an expanded Perinatal Palliative and Bereavement Care Program within the CFDT, committed to helping families plan for and cope with the death of a baby or the knowledge that their baby might not survive. In addition, Dr. Cole is an active member of the Postpartum Support International (PSI) Board of Directors as the co-chair of the Outreach Committee and co-chair of the Training and Education Committee. She is also one of the members of the National Perinatal Association working to develop guidelines that define clinical support for parents during their baby’s time in neonatal intensive care. Dr. Cole’s research interests include the development of a mental health screening tool that identifies significant symptoms of anxiety, stress, trauma or depression among expectant parents. She is also in the process of developing therapeutic support groups for mothers. Dr. Cole earned her PhD in Clinical and School Psychology from the University of Virginia. She completed a pediatric psychology internship and an adolescent and young adult health fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She is also a certified birth doula and is trained as an alcoholism and substance abuse counselor.