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Baby, what is going on…?

This month we are delighted to include a blog from one of our colleagues Ronen Stilman PTSTA who is offering a CPD on Post natal depression soon.

Humans are creatures of pattern. We employ these patterns from an early age as we try to make meaning of the vast amount of information surrounding us, as we compartmentalise and develop strategies, in response to the what life throws at us in order to to cope and manage. These patterns, which are core to our existence, are often also our “Achilles heel”. Because sometimes, our reality and our expectations don’t meet and we find ourselves in counter-productive, and sometimes, vicious ‘circles’ that often become part of the dynamics of our relationships. Those vicious circles manifest themselves in one’s reaction to the other’s action, and so forth. And sometimes, despite our best efforts, we just can’t work it out, or we just can’t shake it off, whatever it is. When people come to see me as a psychotherapist, this is the point where I often meet them for the first time.

I have always been fascinated by people and their stories, which is what attracted me to this weird and wonderful profession in the first place. I have spent many years learning about the human psyche, and have heard, first hand, the most intimate, diverse and interesting stories from clients. They have taught me one important lesson: whilst experiencing pain is universal, how we experience it, is individual. You see, pain does not discriminate against gender, race, sexual orientation or any other form of diversity, but these certainly colour how we might experience pain in the first place, where we might be vulnerable and how we might be shamed by ourselves or others.

Myth buster

In our early years we all make so many unconscious decisions and interpretations about our world that we don’t even notice them. For example, if I tell no one how scared I am about something, my mates might think I’m strong and I will continue to be popular and relied on. Or if I tell anyone how lonely I am, people might think I am weird and walk away. These beliefs are heavily shaped by roles and models that we derive from society. We might grow to think that masculinity is about being tough and strong, or being the bread winner, or that femininity could be about being rescued by a prince or aspiring to be a mother. Society tells us that being beautiful is about possibly having a six pack or a D-cup. Many of us believe that when it comes to love, we are to look for “the one”; who would complete us, satisfy us without having to tell them how, or whom we would we live with happily ever after. How realistic is that? And what happens when these stereotypical myths do not fit us or when we don’t fit with them?

The root of all evil

Freud suggested that our parents are responsible for all of this (actually our mothers to be precise, but it is the 21st century after all, so we have moved on a bit). Indeed, our parents model how to be in relationship for us, and also what tasks males and females take responsibility for in our families. It might be a temporary relief to understand your roots, however J.K Rowling has famously said that there is an ‘expiry date’ on blaming your parents, and unless we take personal responsibility and change some of these patterns, nothing is likely to change for us.

One of the most significant game changing events for some of us is having children. When a child is born there are many social and cultural expectations that it should be a joyful and happy time, and so by contrast, experiencing depression instead could cause devastation in a parent’s life. Coming to terms with the magnitude of the arrival of a new member of the family and its impact requires time and takes significant emotional resources. In addition, a new baby has an immediate impact on all of the existing relationships within a family dynamic.

Baby, I got the blues

Physis has invited me to offer a CPD workshop in October 2018 entitled “What’s love got to do with it?”, where we will be focusing on Post Natal Depression (PND). PND is a depressive episode that occurs following the birth of a child. It can affect both parents and it is more common than you might think: It is estimated at 12-13% (O’Hara & Swain, 1996) with higher incidence level in developing countries (Patel et al, 2002; Cooper et al, 1999). For fathers, figures vary significantly, and are estimated at 7–30% (Huang & Warner, 2005), with first time fathers particularly prone to mild to moderate depression (Cowan et al, 1991; Soliday et al, 1999).

The training event is open to trainees and practitioners from all schools of thought. In the training event, we will explore together the depth of this phenomena; we will look at the contributing factors, such as symptoms and how to recognise them and what assessments tools exist. We will also review and critique a range of theoretical and clinical frameworks in order to understand and work effectively with PND, as well as touch on important ethical considerations that are likely to arise with this type of work.

Find out more about the CPD workshop: “What’s love got to do with it?”.


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