MCPP Monthly Meeting

Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy



Unbearable Choices, Agonizing Decisions:

Helping Families Coping with Pregnancy Termination for Fetal Anomaly

by Irving Leon, Ph.D.


The Michigan League, Henderson Room, Ann Arbor, MI

11 a.m.-1 p.m.

February 17, 2019

No registration needed. 



While reproductive losses are not uncommon, we often fail to appreciate the unique repercussions of these losses and how often they are stigmatized.  Due to the greater usage of prenatal testing and more frequent discovery of fetal abnormalities, couples are increasingly faced with many complicated tasks upon being told there is an anomaly.  This includes digesting the impact of learning of an abnormality, defining what or who has been lost, deciding whether to continue or terminate the pregnancy and deciding who to tell what.  Furthermore, due to the common conflation of pregnancy termination due to fetal anomaly and elective abortion this loss is frequently shrouded in shame and secrecy.  Often it is not shared with family and friends and there is a professional blind spot in the lack of virtually any clinical studies on this topic.  Clinical vignettes with client-therapist dialogue will illustrate how empathic psychotherapy can be therapeutic in its own right in addressing this loss, as well as a means of realizing other therapeutic goals and interventions such as processing grief and trauma, validation, empowerment, normalization, and improving self-worth, all crucial elements of working with this population.  Challenges to therapists who work in this area will also be discussed.


Irv Leon, Ph.D., has been a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Ann Arbor for over 30 years, specializing in the areas of reproductive loss and bereavement.  He authored the first guide to psychotherapy for pregnancy and perinatal loss, When a Baby Dies:  Psychotherapy for Pregnancy and Newborn Loss (Yale University Press, 1990), as well as 25 papers or invited chapters in professional journals and books on reproductive losses.  He has given over 80 presentations at international, national, and regional conferences as well as frequently being an invited speaker to hospitals, universities, and pregnancy loss and adoption groups.  He is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Michigan Medicine where for almost 20 years he has taught faculty, trainees and staff on a broad range of reproductive issues and losses.



At the end of this presentation attendees will be able to:

1.  Identify the unique reactions to reproductive losses.

2.  Clinically address the complicated dynamics of stigmatization.

3.  Understand via clinical vignettes the multiple therapeutic values of empathic


4.  Recognize the additional tasks involved in deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy for fetal anomaly.


 Questions?  Please email David Freiband, Ph.D., V.P. for Programs, at



Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (MCPP) is an independent, contemporary training institute founded on feminist principles and open to diverse theoretical perspectives.  We offer a positive professional community and welcome colleagues from within and without the psychoanalytic community to join us for our free monthly programs and classes. Monthly programs include continental breakfast.

This presentation is open to all interested persons, regardless of their level of experience or knowledge of psychoanalysis. There is no registration needed for our Sunday presentations.

Two social work CEUs and psychology CE credits are available. There is a $10 fee for non-members.*  

The Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy is approved by the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative to provide CE credits for social workers. The Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy maintains responsibility for this program and its content.  

The Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education credits for psychologists. The Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Click here for the APA certificate. 

For more information please contact V.P. for Programs, David Freiband, at Regarding CEUs for social workers, please contact Marybeth Atwell, LMSW at and CEs for psychologists, please contact Ralph Hutchison, PhD at

* None of the planners and presenters of this continuing education program have any relevant financial relationship to disclose.