VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University Associate Professor Rayna D. Markin, PhD, won the 2017 American Psychological Foundation Early Career Award for Division 29 (Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy) for her groundbreaking work on the psychological experience of pregnancy and of pregnancy loss and on associated psychotherapy interventions.
Dr. Markin, a licensed psychologist and faculty member in Villanova’s Department of Education and Counseling, focuses her research on the process and outcome of relationally based, dynamic, psychotherapies. Most recently, her research has applied attachment theory to the understanding and treatment of prenatal attachment disturbances and, separately, pregnancy loss and infertility issues.
“Earning the APF Early Career Award for contributions to the field of psychotherapy is a very meaningful acknowledgement of the kind of research that my colleagues, students and I conduct and of the kind of issues many pregnant women struggle with that are typically unseen by society,” said Dr. Markin. “For example, although pregnancy loss is a relatively common event and has been shown to be associated with chronic grief reactions and trauma, as well as depression and anxiety, we currently lack psychotherapy research for treatments to both support grieving parents through the normal grief process and for helping those parents experiencing complicated grief reactions. This may be in part because in Western society pregnancy loss is not typically viewed as a legitimate type of loss. Receiving the APF award for conducting research on psychotherapy for perinatal grief, along with other psychological issues that impact pregnant women, is particularly meaningful as it validates the loss of a pregnancy as real and the need for more research and clinical training in this area.”
Dr. Markin is joined by other colleagues across the University who are also interested in studying the complicated psychological, sociological and medical/health experiences of pregnancy, in particular in the Theatre Department and the College of Nursing. On October 16, Dr. Markin hosted a colloquium at Villanova, “The Pregnancy Experience: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Research, and Application. Making the Invisible Experience of Pregnancy Visible,” with Chelsea Phillips, MFA, PhD, Assistant Professor in Theater, and Suzanne C. Smeltzer, RN, EdD, ANEF, FAAN, Professor and Director, Center for Nursing Research. The colloquium was sponsored by the University's Gender and Women's Studies Program.
Dr. Markin believes an interdisciplinary approach to studying the mental, psychological and sociological experience of pregnancy is important because, she notes, “although we all come from different disciplines, I believe that what we have in common is that our research aims to shed light on issues that are typically invisible in our society that have to do with the complex and often ambivalent experience of pregnancy.”
Dr. Markin earned her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Maryland. She is the recipient of numerous grants to study such phenomena as the impact of maternal trauma on prenatal attachment and psychodynamic psychotherapy for perinatal grief.