In October of 2011, the 13th Healing Vision conference was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Healing Vision is an international conference that brings together experts from diverse fields to share information concerning the impact of abortion on women, men, and others. The conference provided an opportunity to explore issues related to abortion and mental health and to network with others involved in research and/or post-abortion healing.
The conference was organized by Vicki Thorn, director of the National Office of Post Abortion Healing and Reconciliation and was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, Marquette University, and Our Sunday Visitor Institute.
The first day focused on women’s mental health and, on the second day, the focus shifted to men and abortion. Each of the speakers had participated in the landmark Reclaiming Fatherhood conferences held in 2007 (San Francisco) and 2008 (Chicago).
Tom Golden,a psychotherapist whose area of specialization is healing from loss and trauma, is the author of Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing. He described men’s unique experience of grief and identified specific therapeutic techniques for those who work with men.
Greg Hasek, licensed marriage and family therapist, discussed the importance of reframing men in the abortion decision through the lens of trauma. He also challenged the attendees to better understand the maintenance of abortion in our culture as a result of unresolved trauma between the genders. In another workshop he provided a healing model for post abortion men using attachment theory.
Dr. Catherine Coyle, author of Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing, summarized the research findings concerning men and abortion and discussed general counseling guidelines. In a separate workshop, she reviewed the basic principles of Forgiveness Therapy for men and women after abortion.
The fact that this international conference included men as a major focus (rather than as an afterthought or an add-on) is encouraging to all of us who value men’s roles in pregnancy and parenting. The Healing Vision conference provided a unique and valuable opportunity to increase awareness of men’s experience with abortion.