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Phoenix Rising Pre-Parenting Programme

Are you an expectant first-time parent, or maybe first-time parent to a newborn?

You may have read all the parenting books and watched educational videos about attachment and child development. All this to help you prepare for the exciting, but maybe anxiety-provoking, new chapter in your life.

You have paused to read this post. You may be reflecting. You may be worried.

You may have lived through a tricky childhood and concerned how your own difficult experiences may have an impact on your parenting.

As one expectant mum recently told me: “I definitely can’t overlook the fact my childhood will impact on my own parenting and want to make sure I work through that now so it doesn’t… I want to make a good start at least”.

You probably also have a similar motivation if you had a tricky childhood. Want help with parenting the way you dreamed of, which is so different to your own painful experience? Then this programme is exactly for you. Phoenix Rising Pre-Parenting Programme: A programme for first-time expectant/new parents wishing to rise from the ashes of their own childhood.

No matter how perfectly well we prepare, it is still very hard to prepare to be a parent without being one at the same time. Everything stays rather theoretical and intellectual until you are handed your sweet little baby. Nothing prepares us for this. No books, no amount of therapy and no parenting classes. They all help, but they cannot completely prepare us for something we are yet to experience for the very first time. It is a little bit like reading a theory book for driving versus to actually be driving.

This is for all of you who had to do whatever you needed to do to survive, and you are  out on the other side, and are now parents yourself. You made it through with a lot of courage, bravery and fierce determination. Now you are ready to face a completely new chapter of your life.

Growing up in trauma or with adverse experiences, you survived by shutting your emotions down, but when you become an adult and have children, this is when it hits you hard: Our children can be our biggest triggers. Our children are, on a very unconscious level, reminding us of what we didn’t really have ourselves when we were children. For many years, we most likely blocked our unmet needs out by burying them away deeply.

Even when we don’t understand and when it makes absolutely no sense, our behaviour still comes from somewhere; there is a reason we all react in a certain way. Parenting through trauma, as challenging as it is, is a beautiful opportunity from our children, for us to look deeply within ourselves. It is an opportunity to make sense of our past, and understand how it is linked to our feelings, thoughts and any difficult behaviour we may have.


Parents, who have experienced a difficult childhood and are carrying the unresolved trauma with them, will find certain elements of parenting very challenging. This may be finding it tricky to be emotionally present and offering a positively engaging connection through warmth and play. It may be anxiety around setting limits, boundaries and structure. This may be struggles around attunement and active listening, as this brings out discomfort for you. Intentionally, or unintentionally, you might deal with your child in a punitive manner. You might be at your worst when uncontrollable triggers come out of the blue. So this may be concerns about your own reactivity, such as how you will react when you get triggered and the struggles that may come with that, such as finding it challenging to respond to your baby in a nurturing and sensitive way when or after you have been triggered.

One of the most common issues which parents who have had past trauma often have concerns about, is how they react towards their children during and after a trigger or emotional flashback. How they respond to the needs of their children during those overwhelming and often very belittling moments. These parents have experienced some form of life traumas, but we are specifically referring to parents who have had complex childhood trauma, or those who have survived domestic abuse. Some have a diagnosis of PTSD, or CPTSD. They want to break, or at least minimise, the generational trauma.

We know that the issues of attachment disruption, unresolved loss and trauma can have a negative impact on our parenting. However, having a safe space to explore and make sense of these, and looking at various trauma-informed parenting and self-help techniques, tools and resources, can help you move forward in your parenting journey. By healing yourself, you will become a better version of yourself as a parent.


  • Gaining a better understanding of your trauma and adverse experiences, including the trauma you hold in your body
  • Gaining a better understanding of how your child can trigger you
  • Becoming more aware of your triggers (current triggers versus  possible future triggers as a parent)
  • Managing your reactivity better (how to respond to your child in a nurturing and sensitive way when you are triggered, stressed, anxious, overtired etc.)
  • Developing a better understanding and tools on how to navigate  parenting in a healthy way if you tend to shut down or withdraw when triggered
  • Developing a better understanding and tools on how to navigate  parenting in a healthy way if you tend to experience irritability, anger or explosive  rage when triggered
  • Reflecting and identifying which part of parenting you may struggle with and will then be guided to finding ways to navigate these challenges better
  • Better equipped to build a healthy relationship with your baby (secure attachment)
  • When there has been a rupture in your parent-child relationship (it is not a case of if, but when, as there will be): Tools aimed at not only reconnection, but also on the deeper repairing and rebuilding of your relationship with your child
  • Healing your own wounds, including trauma held in the body and unconsciously
  • Gaining a basic overview of how ‘it’s not just you’, this society sets its own parenting challenges
  • You will receive two things that are often missed from traditional parenting classes and even talking therapy:
  1. The somatic aspect of trauma (how our body reacts automatically and unconsciously when we are triggered, so no amount of reading and Psychoeducation will be sufficient to the deeper healing work so much needed for parenting)
  2. Healing unconscious wounds, especially the wounds our inner child has been carrying for all these years

In this programme, we will address and work on both of these two issues, which are often overlooked in parenting books and parenting classes. They usually stay limited to our ‘thinking brain’ only, which is not enough, as that is not where trauma is stored. That is not where triggers come from. That is what will be so unique in our programme as it will focus on a deeper healing, which will then have a positive impact on your parenting – and by healing yourself, you will become a better version of yourself as a parent.


  • You will have continued lifetime support from us post-completion of the programme
  • It is more affordable than individual therapy sessions and a cost-effective way of accessing specialist therapeutic support.
  • You might not be ready to invest in therapy at this moment in your life due to various circumstances, or therapy is just not something you wish to engage in generally. However, you wish to receive therapeutic support and access some psycho-education, practical and psychological resources.
  • You want to engage in a support network of people attending the programme who have had similar experiences; providing a safe space with a group of people who ‘get it,’ which can be helpful and supportive.
  • Although the sessions are taking place online, you will still receive plenty of material to keep which will be emailed to you
  • You will automatically be signed up to our follow-up programmes at a discounted rate (no obligation to register on these though)


The group size is limited to a capacity of 6 participants to ensure the groups are an intimate space for sharing and reflection. 

Each session will consist of two parts: One will be psycho-education with discussions, psychological tools and resources. The other part will be reflective sharing and listening circle. All sessions will be interactive; however, members will share as much or as a little they feel comfortable with at their own pace. Sharing is not a requirement as the goal of these sessions will be inner healing as part of self-help.  

The sessions run weekly and each session lasts approximately 2.5 hours.


The investment for this programme is £180 for the full 6 weeks (it works out £30 per 2.5-hrs session). 

We are passionate about this programme reaching the people who really need it. 

We would like to offer those who would like to attend the programme but suffering financial difficulty the option to pay in instalments instead of the full fee upfront.

We have limited number of discounted and free spaces to those who would genuine struggle to afford to pay the full fee. The following would apply:

– you are self-employed and your income has reduced

– you have lost your job

– you are on benefits/social welfare payment


  • Place: These will be live online sessions via Zoom. You will have the option to turn your camera off and only use the mic if you like. There is also the option to turn your camera off and use the chatbox for writing if you prefer that instead
  • Date and time: 9am UK time starting the first week of 2021 (date to be confirmed)


Main Facilitator: Sharmi Gowri-Kriszyk

I am the Founder and Clinical Director of Stepping Stones Psychology. My background is in psychology with a specialism in trauma and attachment. In addition to working in both adult and children/young people’s mental health services, I worked 5 years in a specialist trauma and attachment clinic. The latter involved offering parent-child therapies using attachment-based and trauma-sensitive therapeutic models with individuals of all ages who have experienced trauma, including, abuse and neglect.

I am a mum to a special 15-year old boy. Throughout my life, I used drawing, reading, studies and music as my coping strategies, and had believed that I was doing fine. Before becoming a parent, I had studied psychology so I was familiar with child development and attachment styles. I was pretty confident that I will be the ideal parent I had visualised myself to be…Then I became a parent and nothing could have prepared me for that. It brought up all my unresolved issues and unprocessed trauma to the surface. I invested in therapy to work on my trauma in order to become a better version of myself as a parent. I was once where you are now, and I am now where I never imagined myself to be. I believe that healing from complex trauma is an on-going process and  continue to work on myself.

Co-Facilitator – Wendy Andrews

I will be collaborating with the lovely Wendy, who is the Senior Coordinator & Senior Associate of Stepping Stones Psychology. Wendy is also the Parenting Peer Support & Mentor in our Therapeutic Membership for Trauma Survivors.

Wendy has over twenty five years’ experience with running Parenting Peer Support, both giving and receiving. Wendy’s parent mentoring is aligned with both peaceful parenting and attachment theory.

Daily seizures in her late teens made it an imperative for her to begin years of detective work into her ‘happy childhood’, uncovering multiple layers of trauma. Wendy has raised a now twenty year old daughter using peaceful parenting tools from the start and learning a lot as she stumbled through.


  • To secure a place we kindly request £50 deposit
  • Please email for further details

We look forward to welcoming you.


Sharmi & Wendy

P.S if you are reading this and think this may be helpful to you but you are not a first-time expectant parent or new parent (e.g. you have a toddler, older child or somewhere in between), then we do run a similar programme to this one, but one that is more suitable for you. You can find the details here:

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