Thursday, 19 November 2015

The birth of a Birth Trauma Counselling service

I have paused before penning a blog entry.
It’s a very self-conscious beginning.
There is something about my training that would have me prefer to blend with my colleagues and the system. There we’re a unit and connected, and collectively true to the values of our professions. Putting my head out, goes a little against the grain!

I am very grateful though for all the lovely people who are beginning to see the website and like the Facebook page. Thank you all.

I wondered too about the tone. Should this blogging-adventure begin in a very technical and knowledge based attitude? While I have learned a tremendous amount and do hanker to share some of these insights, it has mostly been a very personal journey.

When I applied to do a counselling Diploma with Vital Connexions I had no idea where that decision would lead me. I suspected I might work with locally based trauma themes. Northern Ireland has had a very deeply wounded history and I suppose I believed I might find my way into working with folk affected in that story.

I certainly had no immediate desire to launch into the world of birth trauma. I admit that my own knowledge of that process was very limited. I certainly didn’t believe the birth trauma world is the very misunderstood and complex one that it is.

Having said that Midwives are well informed and are very aware that post-traumatic stress and postnatal depression can result from a difficult birth experience. I suspect all the same that most of us infrequently converse about the full human cost; or witness the psychological responses that affect the whole person, the parent child relationship, the couple and family.

My journey began when three mothers told me the same story. After a normal birth, one week apart, each baby 4, 7, and 15years after the birth of their mother’s first child, the decision never to give birth again, the ‘terror’ the women experienced in childbirth, the wonderful subsequent normal birth and the relief of speaking this story out loud. Stories untold to a professional before that day. These three stories began the NHS Birthafterthoughts service in which I have had the privilege to provide therapy to hundreds of men and women.

5 years later a client will now and then ask me what I’m thinking about. (I know! Topsy-Turvy counselling). I will be wondering how I could teach this. How that particular therapeutic moment could become a lesson, a deepening of the possibility that more women, more men, might find a place to be heard. That those affected by the trauma response to a difficult or scary time will have access to the type of therapy that can bring immediate and full relief to the awful feelings that they are now experiencing.

A few years ago I started to hope that the counsellors who have joined me in this adventure would believe in this dream of mine. Partnering with Chris and Linda was intentional. They have that lovely instinctive and creative quality that I regularly witness in the wonderful midwives that surround my working experience. 

The professionals I work with; Midwives and Doctors, believe in a collaborative approach, informed choice and high standards of care. While each one of us may occasionally get things wrong, as professionals we nonetheless seek to make good decisions for good reasons. Yet birth trauma is a very prevalent result of birth. We all have much to learn about these processes.

I began this journey as a counsellor in the making. Alice Graham and later Patricia Jamshedi are the Counsellor Supervisors that stretched and taught me, helped me be instinctive and informed. They gave me the confidence to adventure in this way with the women and men that I have had the privilege to care for. This journey would not have been possible without their wisdom.

This new  service hopes to do a little more. To begin to stretch the capacity for those who are affected in this way to find the help they need. To teach. To expand the team and provide a uniform and particular service for those that need it. To enable more parents to enjoy the first weeks and months with a brand new little person unencumbered by deeply disturbing emotional responses. To meet too with others along the pregnancy continuum whose stories also are difficult and painful.

Comments Welcome

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Website Design By MICAH T JONES