Parent-Infant Therapy

Postpartum
Click here to listen to my APRIL 2021 interview on being pregnant in a pandemic. I was interviewed by Dr Rebecca Weber on World Radio Switzerland’s Kids in Mind programme.
Pregnancy

Becoming a parent represents a moment of profound change: “I am the same person I was before, and yet I am fundamentally different”.

I am a psychological counsellor, trained in the UK and USA, who specializes in work with parents and their infants in the postpartum period. I work with parents regardless of gender, sexuality or family composition.

POSTPARTUM Mood and Anxiety Disorders

The transition to parenthood is a period of major change and adjustment. Moving from being an individual to a parent of a dependent baby can stir up feelings of loss, anxiety and responsibility. 

In many cultures, new mothers are surrounded by an idealized view of motherhood which involves self-sacrifice and unadulterated joy. There is little room for more complex feelings in relation to becoming a parent, such as sadness, resentment or anger. Without making space to acknowledge these feelings, parents can be left feeling guilty and ashamed, and as if they are ‘bad’ parents.

Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are the number one complication of birth, but women and their partners are not always provided with the support needed to manage and treat these symptoms. We know that, globally, anything from 1 in 7 to 1 in 4 women experience mood and anxiety disorders in pregnancy and postpartum. And men do too. We also know that these statistics are likely an underestimation. Often postpartum depression and anxiety goes unreported and untreated.

In a city like Geneva, with a high proportion of people living far from their country of origin and wider support networks, in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, one would expect rates of postpartum depression and anxiety to be equal to or higher than global averages.

parent-INFANT Therapy

Parent-infant therapy is a form of treatment for disturbances to maternal mental health which places the relationship between the baby and the primary caregiver in a central position to the therapy. It also draws on our growing body of knowledge around the importance of the early years for human development.

I meet on a weekly basis with a parent or parents and baby anytime in the first year of the baby’s life. I offer a rolling 12-week model of parent-infant therapy and often work in collaboration within a wider support network (midwives, lactation and sleep consultants, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, pediatrician, trauma specialist).

Parent-infant therapy is indicated where a primary caregiver or infant are suffering from emotional distress and it is impacting their relationship.

Emotional distress could be defined as or precipitated by the following:

  • Parental emotional distress presenting as postpartum anxiety or depression
  • Presence of trauma history or traumatic pregnancy or birth
  • Presence of parental disruptions in early attachments which might be impacting relationship with baby
  • Presence of external stressors impacting the family (e.g. lack of support network, dislocation, culture shock, language difficulties, wider societal threats e.g. pandemic)
  • Infant prematurity
  • Infant illness
  • Infant distress related to feeding, sleeping or regulation

What next?

I am always happy to speak more about my experience, my approach, and my ethical practice. Please just ask me.

If you would like to know more about working with me, I would usually suggest an initial consultation session in which we can explore what brings you to therapy now, and for you to meet me and get a sense of how I work. During this initial consultation, we can decide together which form of treatment makes most sense given what you are presenting with. If we do decide to work together, we would meet on a weekly basis at the same time each week.

Please contact me here for more information.

References:

Fraiberg, S. et al. (1980). Treatment Modalities. In S. Fraiberg and L. Fraiberg (Eds.), Clinical studies in infant mental health: The first year of life (pp. 49-77). New York: Basic Books

Paris, R., Spielman, E. and Bolton, R.E. (2009). Mother-Infant Psychotherapy: Examining the Therapeutic Process of Change. Infant Mental Health Journal, 30(3), 301-319

Spielman, E. (2002). Early connections: Mother-infant psychotherapy in support of perinatal mental health. Zero to Three, 22(6), 26-30

Weatherston, D. J. (2000). The Infant Mental Health Specialist. Zero to Three. October/November 2000 

postpartum