Both Dr. Byrne and Dr. McKee also both bring to their program an understanding that comes from experiencing infertility, first-hand.
DR. CIARA BYRNE
Ph.D.: Clinical Director & Co-Founder. Group Leader
In her role as Clinical Director of Sage Fertility, Dr. Byrne is responsible for
oversight and quality control of clinical services. She is passionate about ensuring that clinical services at Sage are of excellent quality and empirically based in research to improve pregnancy outcomes as well as psychological and physical well-being.
Ciara completed her graduate studies at Columbia University and the University of Vermont, having studied as an undergraduate at University College Dublin. She has trained extensively in using Mindfulness based therapies, including the Mind/Body program for women experiencing infertility at the Domar Center, Boston IVF. She is also currently enrolled in the two-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training program, through the Awareness Training Institute with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.
Ciara has conducted research and published papers on the impact of mindfulness practices on reducing anxiety, depression, and increasing overall well-being.
Like so many women, Ciara took the long and arduous road to making a family, including IVF – with her first successful pregnancy ending in a late-term loss. Following further IVF and much emotional hardship, Ciara and her husband are now parents to three children.
“When I ask myself would I trade that journey now for the easy path, the answer is probably not, as I was forced to learn many things. I learned vital wellness practices that enabled me to get back on the fertility train – and keep going. I also discovered the importance of connectivity – of making a leap of trust together with other women on a similar journey.”
– Dr. Ciara Byrne
DR. LAURA MCKEE
Ph.D.: Research Director & Co-Founder. Group Leader
In her role as Research Director of Sage Fertility, Laura utilizes a critical research lens to examine every aspect of the workshop experience. She stays abreast of the ever evolving landscape of the scholarly literature around psychosocial and complementary medicine approaches to improving fertility and will oversee a pilot investigation of the efficacy of RE-MAP for improving pregnancy outcomes and overall well-being.
Laura majored in English Literature at Duke University and then attended Teachers College, Columbia University, where she received her MA in Developmental Psychopathology. Soon after, she attended the University of Vermont where she earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, focusing on the prevention of depression in the family context. Over the last decade, Laura has worked clinically with children and families in a variety of contexts including trauma centers, hospitals, and community and private clinics, and has served on the faculties of Clark University and The University of Georgia. She is currently a member of the faculty in the Psychology Department at Georgia State University where she mentors students, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, and conducts and publishes research on mindfulness, gratitude, and depression. She has published over 40 articles and book chapters, and her research has been funded by several private foundations including the John Templeton Foundation and Character Lab, Inc.
Laura’s road to fertility was a long one, which saw her exploring workshops, various groups focused on skills, support and education, as well as nutrition, yoga, and acupuncture. While some were useful, some were not. It was this that prompted Laura to combine all her knowledge and experiences, with her expertise as a clinical psychologist, and create a unique approach… One that incorporates all of the ingredients that are scientifically proven to improve conception and well being. Laura and her husband are now parents to a curious toddler.
“My journey to pregnancy comprised everything from IVF to acupuncture and shamanism, and included three different fertility clinics. Looking back I realize how much I discovered – about myself, and my partner. I began to live the practice of taking in each moment as it unfolded. Projecting into the future left me anxious and lost. But dedicating myself to each breath saved me. Finding the balance between a laser-focus determination to create a family and a gentle acceptance of our limitations, between striving and letting go was key.”
– Dr. Laura McKee