Walker Ladd



Walker Ladd


Saybrook University

Previously a professional modern dancer with both a BA and MFA in dance from UCLA, Walker returned to school to receive an MA in clinical psychology from Antioch University Seattle and practicing as a Couples and Family Therapist. Following the traumatic childbirth and subsequent postpartum depression of her son in 2000, Walker dedicated herself to maternal mental health advocacy and research literacy, working as a certified birth doula (CD, DONA), and serving as the perinatal mental health editor for Lamaze International's Science and Sensibility, before returning to school to receive her Ph.D. in psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

Since her doctorate in 2014, Dr. Ladd has taught research methods and mentored doctoral students through the dissertation process while conducting her own research on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Working across multiple qualitative methodologies, Walker seeks a deeper understanding of the subjective experience of mood and anxiety disorders during the perinatal period. Her book, Transformed by postpartum depression: Women's stories of trauma and growth (Praeclarus, 2020), was based on her grounded theory study of the traumatic and nature of untreated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and subsequent posttraumatic growth for 25 women. She has conducted research on the stigma of mental illness for new mothers with a bipolar disorder (Ladd, 2018) and the meaning of postpartum depression for women in later life (Ladd, 2021). She is currently working on a study regarding the experience of the postpartum anxiety for new mothers during COVID-19.

Dr. Ladd has been a faculty member of Saybrook University since 2018 and is currently full-time faculty in the Department of Research. In addition to designing curriculum, Walker teaches qualitative research methods, including: hermeneutic phenomenology, narrative inquiry, autoethnography, heuristic inquiry, constructivist and Straussian grounded theory, and interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Walker serves on dissertation committees as Chair and methodologist.

Walker is a full member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), the Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology (SQIP), the Society of Humanistic Psychology (Division 32), the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IATA), and the Marce International Society for Perinatal Mental Health. She was the founding President of PATTCh (Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth) with Penny Simkin, and served on the President's Advisory Council for DONA (Doulas of North America).

Areas of Expertise
Area Expertise
Biological Development
Cognitive Development
Pregnancy (Alternative Methods of Fertilization)
Pregnancy (Alternative Methods of Fertilization)
Child & Adolescent Development Teratogens
Anxiety Disorders
Clinical Psychology / Mental Health Mood Affective Disorders / Suicide
Consciousness & Spirituality Studies Consciousness Studies / Altered States of Consciousness
Marriage & Family Parenting
Mood Disorders Bipolar Disorder
Psychology Clinical Psychology
Cognitive Psychology
Developmental Psychology
Humanistic Psychology
Marriage and Family
Transpersonal Psychology
Posttraumatic Growth
PTSD/Trauma Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Case Study
Research Design/Methodology Grounded Theory
Heuristic Research
Qualitative Inquiry
Qualitative Inquiry
Education History
Degree Institution Year
PhD Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, CA 2013
MA Antioch University, Seattle, WA 2000
MFA UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 1994
BA UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 1989
Professional Memberships
Role Organization
Full Member American Psychological Association
Member APA Division 32- Humanistic Psychology
Member Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology (SQIP)
Member Marce Society of Perinatal Mental Health
Member International Society for Trauma Studies
Community Involvement
Role Organization
Volunteer Qualitative Peer Mentor - Marce Society
Media Exposure

Podcast: Changing the Conversation on Postpartum Depression- Sparking Wholeness with Erin Kerry

Podcast: (Ep. 98) Postpartum Depression: Resources, Empowerment, & Transformation with Dr. Walker Ladd

Documentary: When the Bough Breaks

The Mother Lode Podcast: Transformed By Postpartum Depression with Dr. Walker Ladd, Ph.D

Podcast: (Ep. 27) Transformed by Postpartum Depression with Dr. Walker Ladd

Podcast: UNBOUND: Saybrook Insights with President Nathan Long

Podcast: (Ep. 37) – Maternal Mental Health: Postpartum Depression & Beyond – Walker Ladd

Podcast: Ask the Doulas: Transformed by Postpartum Depression

Curriculum Vitae

Postpartum and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, postpartum psychosis

Stigma of mental illness

Childbirth, traumatic childbirth, and childbirth practices

Transformational dimensions of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders

Posttraumatic growth


Ladd, W. (2020). Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women's Stories of Trauma and Growth. San Antonio, TX: Praeclarus Press.


Ladd, W. (2018). "Born Out of Fear": A Grounded Theory Study of the Stigma of Bipolar Disorder for New Mothers. The Qualitative Report, 23 (9), 2081-2104.

Karraa, W., & McCaslin, M. (). Karraa, W., & McCaslin, M. (2015). Published: A grounded theory of successful publication for midcareer scholars. The Qualitative Report, 20 (8), 1332 - 1340.

Professional Skills
postpartum depression, childbirth, grounded theory, hermeneutic phenomenology, interpretive phenomenological analysis, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders in perinatal period, stigma of mental illness, pragmatism, qualitative research, PTSD, post traumatic growth, maternal theory