The impact of brief psychotherapy centred on parenthood on the anxio-depressive symptoms of mothers during the perinatal period
OBJECTIVES: Depression and anxiety are major causes of distress amongst parents during the perinatal period. Their pervasive effects on the parents’ self-confidence, on the parent-infant relationship and on the child’s development have been well documented. The aims of the present study were to describe the psychological characteristics of mothers consulting during the perinatal period and to assess the effect of brief Psychotherapy Centred on Parenthood (PCP) on the mothers’ depressive and anxiety symptoms. The evolution of the mother-infant relationship is also documented. PCP is a brief mother-infant psychotherapy which focuses on the mother-infant relationship as well as the mother’s mental representations in order to reduce her psychological conflicts.
METHOD: Thirty-four mothers consulting an infant-parent outpatient clinic were assessed with respect to depression, anxiety, global functioning, severity of symptoms and the quality of their adaptation to the infant (T1). They were offered a brief PCP with an average of seven sessions. Outcome measures were collected after the end of the therapy (T2).
RESULTS: Overall, 28 of 34 mothers completed the therapy (83%), and 23 participated in the post-therapy evaluation. Paired samples t-tests showed that completers of PCP displayed significant improvement in post-treatment measures of depression (EPDS: t = 5.13; p <0.001), anxiety (STAI-State: t = 3.06; p = 0.006), clinical impression (CGI: n = 21; t = 4.50; p <0.001), and global functioning (GAF: t = –5.05; p <0.001). The quality of adaptation in the infant-parent relationship showed a tendency to improve (PIRGAS: t = –1.98; p = 0.062).
CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results suggested that providing PCP to this sample of consulting mothers is feasible and accompanied by high rate of clinical and functional improvement.
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