Last Updated on December 24, 2022
What is Perinatal Counseling?
Perinatal mental health refers to a woman’s emotional health during her pregnancy and postpartum period. Perinatal counseling is focused on supporting women (and couples) through their journey into parenthood. Pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting bring significant change, stress, and worry to life even when all goes to plan. While it can be a beautiful and exciting time, the changes you experience can also bring feelings of sadness, anxiety, fear, guilt, failure, uncertainty, and darkness. For women experiencing infertility, pregnancy complications, perinatal loss, or a NICU admission, these feelings can become even more complex and challenging to manage on your own.
Perinatal counseling provides emotional support and treatment for women (and couples) struggling with pregnancy and parenting adjustment, a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (such as perinatal depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress syndrome), or grief related to infertility or perinatal loss.
If you are experiencing any of the following, perinatal counseling can help you.
- feeling inadequate, as though you are not good enough
- feelings of guilt, shame, or regret
- loss of interest, joy, or pleasure
- desire to escape
- feelings of anger, irritability, sadness, or hopelessness
- scary thoughts or images related to your baby
- fear of being alone with your baby
- racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating
What is a Perinatal Therapist?
When seeking perinatal counseling, it is important to find a provider with advanced understanding and training in perinatal mental health as this will assure you are appropriately screened and treated using the best evidence-based treatments. Women experiencing a perinatal mood disorder have unique needs and risks that can be misunderstood by those without specialized training. For example, feeling ambivalent about your baby or having scary thoughts or images related to your baby may be misinterpreted as thoughts of harming your baby. A trained perinatal therapist will recognize these feelings and thoughts as a symptom of Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, will understand that you have no desire or intention of harming your baby, and will provide the necessary treatment to overcome these thoughts. Perinatal therapists can also connect you to additional supports such as mom’s groups, psychiatrists, lactation consultants, and perinatal programs specifically designed for your needs.
How to Find a Perinatal Therapist
1. Look for a therapist with advanced training in perinatal issues.
- Trained perinatal therapists will hold a special Perinatal Mental Health Certification (PMH-C). To become certified, a therapist must: have a minimum of 2 years of experience, complete 14 hours of continuing education in maternal mental health, participate in an intensive 6-hour training, and pass a rigorous exam.
- A therapist should also be either a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).
- Check Postpartum Support International to find a trained perinatal therapist near you at https://psidirectory.com/
2. Check availability and accessibility.
- A perinatal therapist should offer availability that meets a pregnant or postpartum mom’s unique schedule.
- Video appointments should be offered and are an excellent option for newly postpartum moms or women experiencing a complicated pregnancy.
- Many perinatal therapists allow you to bring your baby to your appointment if childcare is unavailable.
3. Assure a good fit
- Search for a therapist who offers a complimentary consultation. This will allow you an opportunity to ask questions before getting started and to determine if you feel safe and comfortable opening up and expressing your vulnerabilities.
- A strong therapeutic alliance is proven to be most beneficial to the success of therapy.
- Discuss fees and insurance questions. You might begin your search through your insurance company only to find that in-network therapists are difficult to reach, have long waitlists, and do not have advanced training in perinatal mental health. Many perinatal therapists do not accept insurance but can get you scheduled quickly. They may also offer a sliding scale fee or provide a superbill for you to submit to your insurance for out-of-network reimbursement.
Perinatal Mental Health
This course is designed to provide high quality and evidence-based elearning resources in the field of perinatal mental health.
HEE has developed a set of four elearning sessions, each taking around 20-30 minutes to complete. The sessions assume no specific prior knowledge of perinatal mental healthcare and are designed to be accessed by any health care professional who has contact with people in the time when they’re considering pregnancy, right up until their child is around one year old.
All content is referenced, and the learner is signposted to additional detailed learning resources for more advanced learning. The content and structure of the sessions were formally agreed working with subject matters experts across the field.
The sessions commence with two introductory sessions, which provide a broad overview of the topic and essential learning points for all health professionals. The two subsequent sessions focus on different stages of a mother’s journey – the pregnancy, birth and the first year of a child’s life. The subsequent sessions contain more detailed advice, which may be of interest to particular professional groups, for example, obstetricians choosing to complete session four on labour and the immediate post-partum.
- Introduction to Perinatal Mental Health 1
- Introduction to Perinatal Mental Health 2
- Perinatal Mental Health in the Antenatal Period
- Perinatal Mental Health in the Postnatal Period
Perinatal Mental Health for Health Visitors
The Health Visitor Implementation Plan contains core aims to “improve opportunities to use the full range of health visitor skills and re-emphasise health visitors as key public health professionals” and to “ensure a strong focus on responding to differential needs and improving outcomes, and that systems promote effective join-up between services in ways that best meet local needs.”
Training health visitors to identify and treat postnatal depression, including making referrals to specialist counselling, is a key driver of these aims.
The two elearning modules developed by the Institute of Health Visiting, in partnership with HEE look at:
- Perinatal Mental Health: Health Visitor Assessment
- Perinatal Mental Health: Health Visitor Interventions
Perinatal Mental Health for Occupational Therapists
Training programme for occupational therapists working in perinatal mental health services.
This elearning course is for occupational therapists working in perinatal mental health services and those who are new to or wishing to work in this specialist area of practice. It has been developed by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists in collaboration with Health Education England elearning for healthcare.
The course is part of a wider blended learning package for occupational therapists working in perinatal mental health and provides them with the information and skills they need to support women’s participation in activities that are important to them and their families, and to facilitate women’s recovery from perinatal mental health problems.
It is recommended that you access sessions 1, 2 and 3 on a laptop or desktop.
Each session includes information, case studies relating to the content of the session and a self-assessment to check participants’ knowledge and understanding. Links to additional information and resources are provided and participants are encouraged to create a ‘personal action plan’ detailing how they will continue their learning and develop their practice.
Perinatal Mental Health
1. Course summary
- Study at your own pace and around your career via distance learning.
- Apply your knowledge and improve your practice.
- Connect and collaborate with co-learners and expert tutors.
- Develop academically and professionally on a specialist course.
- Enhance your digital and writing skills through an innovative online programme.
On this course, you’ll develop as a healthcare professional specialising in perinatal mental health. You’ll use applied, case-based scenarios to enhance your thinking, and develop your practice knowledge. When you graduate, you’ll be ready to enter a rewarding field — providing effective, specialist care for families and individuals.
2. How you learn
All our courses are designed around a set of key principles based on engaging you with the world, collaborating with others, challenging you to think in new ways, and providing you with a supportive environment in which you can thrive.
Online distance learning at Sheffield Hallam provides you with a rich, connected learning experience.
You’ll receive support during induction, so you’re ready to access our learning environment and meet your fellow students from day one.
Interactive, self-directed and peer supported learning is broken down into manageable chunks to help you to maximise access. This also creates a flexible learning experience.
You learn through
- access to online learning material and other support resources
- collaboration with other learners on your course
- assessed work
3. Future careers
This course prepares you for careers in
- targeted perinatal mental health (PMH) teams
- specialist roles in health and social care
- PMH lead roles within your current registration
4. Where will I study?
You study this course online from any location
Equipment and facilities
On this course you work with
- online tools such as webinars, discussion forums, social media film and text-based resources
5. Entry requirements
- All students
- Additional information for EU/International students
Normally, applicants will hold a first degree or professional qualification which is recognised in the UK in a related health care subject. A first degree in a relevant subject for example BSc (Hons) Midwifery.
Other formally certified qualifications
Equivalent, international academic and/or professional qualifications will be accepted. Applicants will be considered on other relevant evidence which may include for example documented evidence of recent CPD activity, innovative practice, practice leadership, service development, research projects and/or publications. Such evidence must be clearly described in any application.
Level of English language capability
Where English is not your first language an IELTS score of 6.5 is required, with a minimum of 6.0 in writing and no individual element below 5.5.
Relevant work or work-related experience
Experience of working in a related setting is required.
Please note there may be additional pre-requisites for some modules please see individual module descriptors.
Applicants will be motivated and prepared to study independently and autonomously. They must be prepared to embrace the challenges of Masters level study in an online distance learning environment, have access to a reliable internet connection to support engagement and have sound IT skills.
The programme is intellectually challenging and applicants should be prepared to actively contribute to discussion and debate; critically reflect upon own and others; practice and; explore and evaluate the evidence base underpinning their chosen course of study.
Use of Prior Credit (RPL): prior certificated credit or prior experiential credit may be used within the programme in the following ways:
Through the University’s recognition of prior learning (RPL) process it may be possible for applicants to be exempt from some modules of the programme.
Module and assessment information for future years is displayed as currently validated and may be liable to change. When selecting electives, your choices will be subject to the core requirements of the course. As a result, selections may be limited to a choice between one of two or more specified electives in some instances.
|Mental Health Recovery And Maternal Care||30||Coursework|
|Perinatal Mental Health And The Family||30||Coursework|
|Researching For Practice (Distance Learning)||15||Coursework|
|Advanced Communication In Supportive Care||30||Coursework|
|Contemporary Issues In Advancing Practice (Distance Learning)||15||Practical|
|Early Intervention In Child, Adolescent And Family Mental Health||30||Coursework|
|Enhancing Practice In Child, Adolescent And Family Mental Health||30||Coursework|
|Evaluating Service Improvement (Distance Learning)||15||Coursework|
|Health Promotion And Lifestyle Management||15||Coursework|
|Interprofessional Education For Quality Enhancement (Distance Learning)||15||Practical|
|Leadership In Practice (Distance Learning)||15||Coursework|
|Learners In Difficulty (Distance Learning)||15||Coursework|
|Learning And Teaching For Practice||15||Coursework|
|Loss, Grief And Bereavement||15||Coursework|
|Planning Service Improvement (Distance Learning)||15||Coursework|
|Dissertation 60 Credits||60||Coursework|
7. Fees and funding
- Home students
- International students
Our tuition fee for UK students starting full-time study in 2022/23 is £8,745 for the course. For part-time study the fee will be calculated pro-rata each year based on the number of credits studied (£730 for 15 credits or £1,460 for 30 credits).
† If you are studying an undergraduate course, postgraduate pre-registration course or postgraduate research course over more than one academic year then your tuition fees may increase in subsequent years in line with Government regulations or UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) published fees.