Group psychotherapy intervention in perinatal loss looking for a new pregnancy: supporting families within the hospital environment
Álvarez-Cienfuegos Cercas, Laura (1), Beizama Bergara, Yenai (2), Pina Camacho, Laura (3).
(1) Clinical Psychologist. Perinatal Mental Health Program, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañon, Madrid, Spain, (2) Intern Psychologist. Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañon, Madrid, Spain, (3) Psychiatrist. Perinatal Mental Health Program, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañon, Madrid, Spain
Perinatal bereavement is a complex experience which has a deep impact on families’ psychological wellbeing. It remains very challenging for parents to process their feelings and thoughts regarding their babies, as society tends to deny the legitimacy of their loss. Ambiguous feelings often emerge in the process of “moving on” when such families are desiring a new baby, while they also struggle with the memory of the “lost child” and the place it occupies in their hearts, their minds and family history.
We offer group psychotherapeutic intervention for families who lost their babies on the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, for families who suffered the loss of a newborn and ,who are desiring a new pregnancy. The group is coordinated by a Clinical Psychologist with psychologists/psychiatrists in-training participating as observers. Emerging issues are: Feelings of guilt when families are moving along in the process of bereavement, adjustment issues which manifest as lack of acceptance of their current situation, avoidance of young babies, fear of a new pregnancy and of not loving their future baby. The group allows the opportunity for parents to process their experiences with the Hospital staff. It also provides an opportunity to make suggestions regarding how a “more supportive approach” would better meet their specific needs. Mindfulness exercises are also used to address intense painful emotions as they emerge in the group.
We believe that Group Psychotherapy is a particularly useful tool for assisting families in the context of perinatal loss. Specifically, when such families who have suffered the loss of a baby embark on a new pregnancy with added stressors due to unprocessed feelings regarding their previous loss.
We consider that these families need a different level of care from health professionals; a group psychotherapeutic intervention which can become a “holding environment” and a safe space for these families.