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DCP Faculty of Perinatal Psychology website

Welcome to the Faculty of Perinatal Psychology website.

The Faculty of Perinatal Psychology was inaugurated as a special interest group in February 2006 before becoming a Faculty in 2008. The aims of the faculty have been agreed as follows and were set out in the Strategic Plan 2007-2008 concluding a piece of work undertaken by the Committee during the year.

Aims

  • To provide a forum primarily for Clinical Psychologists working with women who are pregnant, in labour, or in the postnatal period, and to their partners, children and extended family where appropriate.
  • To provide support for this group of professional colleagues who span specialities (e.g. Health Psychology, Mental Health) and client groups (e.g. Adult, Child) in order to promote and develop psychological services within services concerned with the perinatal period.
  • To support the expansion of a knowledge base in Perinatal Psychology via training, research, and sharing examples of best practice.
  • To promote Perinatal Psychology, via links with regional training schemes, and liaison with other relevant academic and professional bodies. 
  • To provide a forum for sharing advice on setting up, promoting or protecting psychology provision within perinatal services.
  • To liaise with other professional groups and service user groups who share an interest in perinatal care of women and their families.
  • To advise and respond on both a local and national level to the development of policy impacting upon our client group. 

 

Why is clinical perinatal psychology important?

Perinatal mental health has become a significant public health concern. Urgent action is needed to address indirect causes of maternal deaths, both medical and psychiatric, as there has been no significant improvement in death rates since 2003. In addition, the long term cost of perinatal depression, anxiety and psychosis in the UK is £8.1billion per year, the equivalent of £10,000 for every single birth with three quarters of the cost being due to adverse impacts on the child[1].

Clinical perinatal psychologists bring a unique and advanced skill set to the understanding and treatment of mental health and physical healthcare problems in the perinatal period. Many women have a clear preference for psychological support for mental health problems over more medicalised interventions such as pharmacology in the perinatal period[2].
Psychological therapies are effective in psychotic illnesses, severe depression and anxiety, perinatal OCD, personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder[3], and it is recommended that every specialist perinatal mental health team should include clinical psychology sessions. In addition, clinical perinatal psychologists are qualified to work with mothers and babies on enabling sensitively attuned mother-infant interaction during this critical period.

What do clinical perinatal psychologists do?

Clinical psychologists have extensive and in depth training (a minimum of 6 years) including a 3 year clinical psychology doctoral degree funded by the Department of Health specifically to fulfil these roles for the NHS. Specialist clinical perinatal psychologists have received further post-doctoral training under the supervision of a Consultant Clinical Perinatal Psychologist.

Clinical perinatal psychologists are trained to provide:

(i) Expert application of psychological theory to mental health and physical health care. This in-depth understanding and ability to integrate knowledge of maternal mental health, infant mental health, developmental psychology, family dynamics and systemic issues ensures optimal care for a wide-range of mental health needs of women and their babies during pregnancy and after birth.

(ii) High quality, evidence-based psychological therapy to effectively alleviate moderate, severe, complex or co-morbid forms of psychological distress during pregnancy and the postnatal period.

(iii) Assessment, identification and effective intervention to improve problematic mother-infant relationships that are otherwise likely to impact adversely on the child’s social, emotional or behavioural development.


(iv) Leadership in psychological service development and service evaluation.


(v) Delivery of teaching, training and supervision of other health professionals (e.g., Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) staff; specialist midwives and health visitors) delivering psychological therapies for mild to moderate mental health problems.

 

[1] Bauer et al, 2014 


[2] Buist, O’Mahen & Rooney, 2015