Seeing the wood from the trees. Psychotherapeutic exploration of postpartum depression

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Purcell, Katarzyna
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Postpartum depression (PPD) is a concerning problem that negatively affects the entire family unit. Pregnancy and transition to motherhood can be a challenging and overwhelming time for many women. This qualitative study presents a psychotherapeutic exploration of postpartum depression through the experience of five practitioners working in the field of PPD. The study portrays a picture of mothers’ changed reality in the postpartum period and highlights their feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, guilt, lack of confidence, confusion and loss. Women in the postpartum period also feel unprepared for motherhood and pressurised into an idealistic role created by society. The research also describes the role of psychotherapy in treating PPD. Psychotherapy offers a holistic approach that deals not only with managing the symptoms, but also empowers and supports women in making meaning of their new reality. Listening and normalising the women’s experiences are considered key aspects in the psychotherapeutic process. The therapist acts as a ‘good enough’ parent who assists women in redefining their identity and their relationships with others. The research asks how the work on PPD affects the participants’ personal lives and presents their countertransference responses. The study finds that the work on treating PPD is both rewarding and challenging. A lack of affordable resources for postpartum depression is also revealed. Author keywords: Postpartum depression, psychotherapy for postpartum depression, countertransference, therapists’ experience