Amy Wenzel, Ph.D., ABPP Beck Institute Faculty Perinatal distress is defined as depression or anxiety experienced by women who are pregnant or who are in the first postpartum year (Wenzel, 2015). Those of you who have attended the Core 2 CBT for Anxiety Workshop at Beck Institute know that I do not include this issue as a part of the curriculum; nevertheless, questions pertaining to work with perinatal women are frequently asked once workshop participants know my background, and lively discussion usually ensues. Thus, we thought it would be of interest to address this topic in this e-newsletter. On many occasions, I have encountered negative attitudes toward CBT in the community of mental health professionals (the vast majority of whom identify with other theoretical orientations) who treat perinatal women. Examples of these attitudes include:
- Attention to the therapeutic relationship is paramount, and cognitive behavioral therapists place little, if any, significance on it.
- Session structure is too rigid and cold for a perinatal woman in substantial distress, who needs to be provided with a “holding environment” (a Donald Winnicott construct) that provides nurturance, reassurance, and a sense of safety.
- There is no way that a new mom who is frazzled and sleep-deprived can do homework in between sessions.