Karen Kleiman, MSW, LCSW

Founder & Executive Director

Karen Kleiman is a well known international maternal mental health expert for over 32 years. As an advocate and author, her work has been featured on the Internet and within the mental health community for decades. In 1988, Karen founded The Postpartum Stress Center, LLC, a treatment and training facility for prenatal and postpartum depression/anxiety disorders where she treats individuals and couples experiencing perinatal mood & anxiety disorders.

Karen has been interviewed for, featured in, and reviewed by local and national TV, magazines, radio shows and health websites. Her national television appearances include The Katie Couric Show, Inside Edition, The Oprah Winfrey Show and NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. A few popular magazines that have featured her work or interviewed her include: Self Magazine, Fit Pregnancy, Parenting, Working Mother, Star, and Mothering Magazine. (see clips on “media and press” page)

In 1976, Karen received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Indiana University in Bloomington, and in 1980, her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois in Chicago and has been practicing clinical social work ever since. In addition to her clinical work at The Postpartum Stress Center, she instructs the post-graduate training course for clinicians who have an interest in treating women with postpartum depression, Fundamentals of Postpartum Depression: Assessment, Treatment & Advanced Clinical Practice. As a follow up to this training, Karen provides ongoing consultation to graduates of her training and serves as a mentor for perinatal therapists.

Her first book, This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression (Bantam, 1994; second edition Da Capo Press, 2013), co-authored with Dr. Valerie Davis Raskin, forged new territory in the self-help book market on postpartum depression. The revised second edition became available October, 2013. Frequently listed as the bestselling postpartum book on Amazon.com, this pioneering book has proven to be an essential resource for women and their families. Her subsequent books on postpartum depression, The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for Living with Postpartum Depression (xlibris, 2001) and What Am I Thinking? Having a Baby After Postpartum Depression (xlibris, 2005) continue to contribute significantly to the self-help market for families dealing with postpartum depression. She co-authored Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts: Breaking the Cycle of Unwanted Thoughts in Motherhood (2011; Routledge; with A. Wenzel), and her book, Therapy and the Postpartum Woman: Notes on Healing Postpartum Depression for Clinicians and the Women Who Seek Their Help (Routledge, 2009), has been a groundbreaking resource for clinicians who treat women with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. Additionally, she has contributed to two edited parenting collections, ParentSchool: Parent School: Simple Lessons from the Leading Experts on Being a Mom and Dad by Jerry and Lorin Biederman (M. Evans & Company, Inc. 2002) and The Experts’ Guide to the Baby Years: 100 Things Every Parent Should Know by Samantha Ettus (Clarkson Potter, 2006) with brief inserts from the perspective of a postpartum expert. Her most recent book, Tokens of Affection: Reclaiming your marriage after postpartum depression (Routledge, 2014) was written with Amy Wenzel. She co-authored Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Perinatal Distress (Routledge, 2014; with A. Wenzel), and the book which is the basis for her 12hr Professional training program, The Art of Holding in Therapy: An Essential Intervention was published by Routledge in 2017. Her recent book, Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts: A Healing Guide to the Secret Fears of New Mothers was released in March 2019 (Familius). In 2020, she co-authored the second edition of Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts (Routledge).

Karen is affiliated with a number of websites where she writes articles, facilitates support chats, addresses concerns of postpartum and pregnant women and their partners. She also serves as parenting expert panel member for BabyCenter.com and Storknet.com. Additionally, she was featured in the television show, “Surviving Motherhood”, produced by The Learning Channel (TLC production). She also had the privilege of serving on two advisory panels for the development of postpartum training modules, with Danya International PPD research project and the National Institute of Mental Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). Karen lectures on the topic of prenatal/postpartum depression and is involved in the development of a non-profit foundation which aims to provide treatment services for disadvantaged postpartum women and their families. As a member of Postpartum Support, International, a non-profit organization with volunteer coordinators in each state in the U.S. and 26 countries around the world, Karen and her associates at The Postpartum Stress Center are continuously in touch with the needs of the postpartum community as well as with current research and state-of-the-art interventions. She is currently on the Advisory Board of The Seleni Institute in New York. Her two-day Advanced Professional Training Program has global appeal and is structured as a small group opportunity for intensive study for therapists who specialize in the treatment of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

“…Women are rarely informed about the range of emotions that can develop after the birth of their baby. When they experience difficulty, they are often silenced by well-intentioned healthcare providers or family members: “all mothers experience this”, or “this is normal,” or “you’ll feel better if you get out of the house,” or “find a hobby.” This advice doesn’t work. In fact, it can make her feel worse, misunderstood and isolated. As her usual coping skills diminish, and her feelings of shame and guilt abound, her depression deepens. It is this scenario that has compelled me to do the work I do. To reassure Mothers that they are not alone, that there is help available and contrary to what they may think, they do NOT have to continue to feel hopeless and sad. We live in a society that does not make it easy to admit that being a mother sometimes doesn’t feel so good. Sometimes, it’s hard, it’s exhausting, it’s overwhelming and it’s just not always what we feel like doing. And even in the absence of a clinical depression, motherhood can challenge a woman in a way she has not previously known. Women need a private place they can go to talk, to cry, to be angry, to be by themselves, to rediscover who they are, what they need and how they can get it. A place where they are safe to disclose their most secret and painful thoughts. A place where they no longer have to prove how strong they are, how perfect they are, how in control they are. A place where they can reclaim their lost self and find the courage to explore where they are and where they would like to go from this point forward. The Postpartum Stress Center offers them this opportunity.”

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