Julia S. Seng, PhD, CNM, FAAN

Julia Seng

Department of Systems, Populations and Leadership
Room 3220 NURS1

University of Michigan School of Nursing
400 North Ingalls Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5482

Telephone: (734) 647-0152
Fax: (734) 647-0351
Julia Seng is not accepting new PhD students.


  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Childbearing outcomes
  • Oxytocin
  • Childhood abuse trauma
  • Midwifery

Dr. Seng’s research focuses on the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on women’s health and childbearing. Her projects approach this topic from a variety of perspectives.  She used qualitative, participatory action research to understand women's experiences and to inform intervention development.  Epidemiological analyses have established that PTSD is associated with pregnancy complications and worse physical health across the lifespan for women.  Clinical studies currently are examining neuroendocrine pathways that link PTSD to preterm birth, lower birth weight, and pregnancy complications.  Implementation study of a psychoeducation program for women with abuse-related PTSD, known as the “Survivor Moms’ Companion” is underway.

Current Research Grants and Programs

  • Trauma-informed Practice Certificate for Prospective Teachers, Social Workers, and Nursing. Whitaker Award, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. Role: Co-I. This project will develop and pilot a professional mini-certificate in trauma-informed practice and leadership for education, nursing, and social work students.
  • Survivor Moms’ Companion (SMC) Perinatal Intervention/ NY Implementation. Health Foundation of Western and Central New York. Role: Co-I. This project advances the Survivor Moms’ Companion intervention through the ‘installation’ phase of implementation with champion sites in Melbourne, Boston, and Buffalo. The funding also supports the website and book design costs.
  • Testing the Survivor Mums’ Companion as part of Blackpool’s Better Start. Centre for Early Childhood Development / NSPCC / Blackpool. Role: PI. This is a hybrid effectiveness-implementation science study conducted in the city of Blackpool, England. The implementing organization (and funder) is the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Our university partner for the effectiveness component is the University of Birmingham.


Dr. Seng is an experienced teacher, having become a nurse after teaching French at the university and high school levels.  She is currently teaching in both the School of Nursing and the Department of Women’s Studies.  She particularly enjoys teaching research methods – for nurse researchers and for non-scientists- including doctoral courses on measurement and qualitative methods. 

Students Dr. Seng mentored have been successful at publishing papers on their own or as a member of the research team. Mentees at all levels, from Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program research assistants, to Honors students in Nursing and Biological Psychology, to Master’s students in Public Health, Nursing, and Social Work, to PhD students in Nursing and Psychology, to junior colleagues contribute from diverse standpoints.

Affiliations / Service

  • Member, American College of Nurse Midwives
  • Member, International Society for Studies of Trauma and Dissociation
  • Member, Midwest Nursing Research Society
  • Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Childbirth
  • Editorial Board Member, Psychological Trauma: Research, Teaching, Practice, and Policy
  • Editorial Panel Member, Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health

Notable Awards / Honors

  • Fellow, American Academy of Nursing, 2009
  • Book of the Year, American College of Nurse Midwives, 2009
  • Visiting Professorships, University of Melbourne, Australia 2008; University of Sheffield, England 2008, University of Illinois, Chicago 2007
  • Referee of the Year, Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health 2008
  • Mae Edna Doyle Teacher of the Year, University of Michigan School of Nursing, 2014


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 2001
  • PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1999
  • MS, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1995
  • BSN, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 1991
  • MA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1985
  • BA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1983

Publication Highlights

  • Professor Seng co-developed with Dr. Mickey Sperlich a trauma-specific intervention for women who are pregnant or in the early months of parenting.  The Survivor Moms’ Companion will be available starting in mid-2019 via the Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute.  Find out more: https://survivormoms.org

  • Seng, J., Taylor, J. (2015).  Trauma Informed Care in the Perinatal Period.  Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press. https://www.dunedinacademicpress.co.uk/page/detail/Trauma-Informed-Care-in-the-Perinatal-Period/?k=e201400516031675.

  • Sperlich, M., Seng, J.S., (2008). Survivor Moms: Women’s Narratives of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse.  Eugene, OR: Motherbaby Press.

  • Sperlich, M., Seng, J. S., Rowe, H., Fisher, J., Cuthbert, C., Taylor, J. (2017). A cycles-breaking framework to disrupt intergenerational patterns of maltreatment and vulnerability during the childbearing year.  Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 46(3), 378-389.

  • Seng, J. S., Li, Y., Yang, J. J., King, A. P., Kane Low, L., Sperlich, M., Rowe, H., Lee, H., Muzik, M., Ford, J.D., Liberzon, I. (2018). Gestational and postnatal cortisol profiles of women with posttraumatic stress disorder and the dissociate subtype. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 47(1), 12-22.

  • Seng, J. S., Sperlich, M., Kane Low, L., Ronis, D., Muzik, M., Liberzon, I. (2013). Childhood Abuse History, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Postpartum Mental Health, and bonding: A Prospective Cohort Study. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 58, 57-68.

  • Seng, J. S., Kane Low, L. M., Sperlich, M., Ronis, D. L., Liberzon, I. (2011).  Posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with lower birth weight and shorter gestation.  British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 18(11), 1329-39.

  • Seng, J. S., Kane Low, L. M., Sperlich, M. I., Ronis, D. L., Liberzon. I. (2009).  Trauma history and risk for PTSD among nulliparous women in maternity care.  Obstetrics & Gynecology, 114(4), 839-847.

  • Seng, J. S., Sperlich, M., Rowe, H., Cameron, H., Harris, A., Rauch, S. A. M., Bell, S. A.  (2011). The Survivor Moms’ Companion:  Report of an open pilot of a posttraumatic stress psychoeducation program for pregnant survivors of childhood maltreatment and sexual trauma.  International Journal of Childbirth, 1, 111-121.

  • Sperlich, M., Seng, J. S., Rowe, H., Cameron, H., Harris, A., Rauch, S. A. M., McCracken, A. K. (2011). The Survivor Moms’ Companion:  Report of safety, feasibility, and acceptability of a pilot posttraumatic stress psychoeducation program for pregnant survivors of childhood maltreatment and sexual trauma.  International Journal of Childbirth, 1, 122-135.

  • Rowe, H. M., Sperlich, M., Cameron, H., Seng, J.S. (2014). A quasi-experimental analysis of a psychoeducation intervention for pregnant women with abuse-related posttraumatic stress. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 43(3), 282-293.

  • Lopez, W. D., Novak, N. L., Harner, M., Martinez, R., Seng, J. S. (2018). The traumatogenic potential of law enforcement home raids: An exploratory report.  Traumatology, 24(3), 193-199.

  • Seng, J. S., Lopez, W. D., Sperlich, M. I., Hamama, L., Reed Meldrum, C.D. (2012). Marginalized identities, discrimination burden, and mental health: Empirical exploration of an exploration of an interpersonal-level approach to modeling intersectionality.  Social Science & Medicine, 75(12), 2437-45.

  • Seng, J. S. (2010).  Posttraumatic oxytocin dysregulation: is it a link among posttraumatic self disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and pelvic visceral dysregulation conditions in women?  Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 11(4), 387-406.

  • Rosemberg, M., Li, Y., McConnell, D., McCullagh, M., Seng. J. S. (2019).  Stressors, allostatic load, and health outcomes among women hotel housekeepers: A pilot study. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 7, 1-36.