Many people have certain beliefs and expectations about psychologists that are not accurate. These beliefs come from the media, movies and books and ideas passed on from older generations. These misunderstandings can lead to further stigmatisation when people do seek help and may deter people from seeking help in the first place. Here we debunk some of the most common myths about psychology in the perinatal period.
1. I am not bad enough/ this will pass/ it’s hard for everyone. Many people who struggle in the perinatal period feel that they are using up valuable resources if they reach out for help during this time. Many often delay getting help or feel guilty about it and try to rationalise why they shouldn’t with the statements listed above. It is important to remember that yes, some people might be worse, and some things might pass but if it is impacting you now you could benefit greatly from talking to someone who is impartial, unbiased and skilled in this area. This can help to stop the problem developing into a worse mental health condition.
2. I’ll just have to lie on a couch and talk about my mother. This belief has some truth to it! Many psychologists get you sit on a comfy chair or couch and yes you will talk about your family but this is not all that happens. It can be hard to talk about or think about things from your childhood or upbringing but these are often brought to the surface when you start a family and can be impactful on all areas of parenthood. The psychologist will want to get a better understanding of those key moments in your life however as they can shed light on current problems or patterns that have occurred in your adult life.
3. I have heaps of friends I don’t need a psych! While friends and family can be very supportive it is sometimes beneficial to have a safe space where you can talk about your own issues without judgement or fear that you will negatively impact the relationship. This can mean that you are more open and honest about the difficulties you are having whilst also relishing and appreciating those special relationships you have.
4. I might get sent away and lose my baby. Some mums do experience significant psychological distress in the postnatal period that might require a hospital stay. However, we know that this is a very small percentage of women and in most cases will include the baby so that mum and bub can continue to bond over that time. So, while it doesn’t happen very frequently, keeping families close is a priority.
5. I don’t want a diagnosis because it could impact on my child’s future. Many parents worry that their mental health issues could impact on their children in terms of their development or opportunities. We know that the stigma and shame around mental health is improving but importantly when issues like these are addressed early, this can prevent a current problem becoming a more serious and long-term mental health condition. Seeing a psychologist early can also help you to consider how to manage in front of your kids, teaching them positive coping strategies.
6. I don’t want to air my dirty laundry. Sometimes it can feel like talking about the issue will exacerbate it or make it worse for you but in our experience, we find that people who share their concerns with a trusted professional can feel a sense of relief. Whilst this might not happen immediately, many people feel that once the trust is developed between yourself and the psychologist, you can start to open up and share concerns that you might have been carrying by yourself for many years.
7. The psychologist will judge me for how I feel about my baby. Trust us, psychologists have heard it all! Not only that, the perinatal psychologists understand that people feel a range of emotions towards their children that are both positive and negative. They appreciate the pressures put on new mums (and dads) and can help people to not only share these views but help to conceptualise why they have thoughts and feelings, helping to normalise this experience.
Finally, we know you might have logistical worries. For example:
Where are appointments held?
How long are appointments?
All appointments are scheduled for 50 minutes. You will be called in at your scheduled appointment time or with a very minimal wait time.
How often do I have to come?
Each person attending therapy will have different needs. You will agree the frequency of your appointments with your psychologist in your first session and adjust this as necessary during your treatment. At the most frequent you would have weekly appointments.
How long will I have to come for?
Each person attending therapy will have different needs. You will discuss the number of sessions you require with your psychologist during your treatment. You are entitled to up to 10 Medicare bulk-billed sessions in a calendar year. You may pay privately for any further sessions in the year.
What will we talk about?
In your first session, the psychologist will ask you some questions to understand your current situation and what assistance may be beneficial for you. This might include topics like:
What is currently bothering you – mood, sleep, eating patterns, behaviours, thoughts.
Your medical and mental health history
Who your family and friends are and their relationship with you
Your living situation
You will develop a treatment plan and subsequent sessions will be spent working together on your goals.
Can I bring my baby or children?
You are welcome to bring your baby or children with you to the session. Our use of Maternal and Child Health for your appointments centers means there are always toys available for their entertainment. Some mothers however do like to take this time as a reflective focused time so choose to arrange childcare during the session. Older children may also listen to things that you may not want them to be aware of. Please consider this when deciding who to bring along to your session.
How much do appointments cost?
We bulk-bill (no out of pocket expense) our appointments to ensure they are accessible to everyone under a Mental Health Care Plan from your GP.