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Post Natal Illness Counselling by Catherine Burbridge

In the article that follows, Catherine Burbridge describes her experiences of Post Natal Illness and how it informs her work as a counsellor at The Hope Street Centre.

Catherine writes... 'Nearly eleven years ago, the birth of my son made a massive impact on our new life as a family. What we expected to be a happy and exhausting time with a new baby quickly became one filled with darkness and fear. At five weeks old, Post Natal Illness smashed through our family and took our breath away. It sounds dramatic and it was. Our life was never quite the same again.

In time we recovered. The bond with my son was renewed and unbreakable. As I watch him now, almost grown to my height, it was absolutely worth every tear or scream. When we had our daughter hope kept us going. We had all the help in the world, a watchful medical team, the best CPN (We are forever grateful to him) and good family support. It was a subtle take over, I knew it was happening but I couldn’t stop it. Then there was just blackness. It took longer that time but here I am. I survived. My daughter and son together are a source of delight.

All these years later, I have had the privilege of working with families and their beautiful children as they recover from this group of illnesses. The support group I founded and ran for nearly 5 years still runs today.

From my work with this client group, it is clear that these illnesses have far reaching consequences for all the family. For Mum, the illness consumes her. There is very little space for anything else. It feels like she will never feel normal again. Her strange frightening statements, moods and behaviour are her reality. The frustration, fear and anger she expresses are real; she can’t just pull herself together and NO it’s not just being a new Mum.'

Person centred therapy’s unconditional acceptance of the woman’s experiencing of this illness can go a long way to help her feel calmer and heard. Being held emotionally in a caring, empathic and non-judgemental therapeutic space can be powerfully soothing and restorative.

For Dad, the same space can be vital in helping him to feel supported as he tries to hold family life together. Too often Dad is forgotten in the rush to care for Mum. His partner is temporarily lost to him. He may not understand his own reaction to the illness and have doubts about the future. For older siblings, the stress and strangeness of Mum and Dad as they cope with illness can be frightening. How can they understand that Mum or Dad can’t play just now or need to rest?

Whatever your experience of this illness, I can offer you the space to explore what has happened to you and your family. Helping you find your way through to recovery and choices for the future. It can and does get better.

Please contact me if you would like to find out more

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