Dr Renée Miller (principal psychologist) says, "we are a dedicated network of specialist practitioners, passionate about supporting people through the difficulties that can arise at this profound time in their lives. Most people are aware of postnatal depression, but there is a lot more that brings women (and their partners) to our psychologists."
APPN psychologists support couples experiencing the devastating loss of a much-wanted pregnancy; single women using donor sperm to fall pregnant; couples struggling to conceive - who are dealing with the arduous emotional challenges of assisted fertility or donor conception; couples undergoing the turmoil of deciding whether to proceed with a pregnancy when a fetal diagnosis has been made; women experiencing pregnancy depression, anxiety and stress; gender disappointment; fear of childbirth, traumatic birth and premature birth; new parents feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed; parent-infant bonding difficulties, and a multitude of other issues that arise at this highly vulnerable time in people's lives (up to three years post-birth).
Dr Renée Miller reports, "it's generally women who find us, either through their own internet searches, or by being referred by a caring gp, obstetrician, midwife, or Maternal & Child Health Nurse. However some men contact us when they are concerned about the emotional well-being of their wives or partners. We try to make initial contact as personalised as possible, knowing that women are often distressed or even ashamed to be seeking help. Our psychologists are contactable directly by mobile phone at which point women are tended to with the warmth, care and encouragement that is typical of APPN psychologists."
As the onset of some postnatal disorders (such as postpartum psychosis) can be rapid, APPN psychologists endeavour to triage patients to immediate care by working closely with PANDA counsellors, women's gps, perinatal psychiatrists (psychiatrists who specialise in pregnancy and the postnatal period), and in extreme cases - Crisis Assessment Teams (CAT) - for urgent help in women's homes. For less serious conditions, our wait times are usually within two weeks, due to the number of psychologists and the locations we service.
In addition to the clinical services provided by APPN, Dr Renée Miller personally curates a community Facebook Page that provides women and new parents with sound and supportive information related to childbearing and parenting. "I read through screeds of trite parenting advice on the internet, and select and only share posts that have an evidence-base or that are psychologically astute and emotionally nourishing. The occasional bit of humour is shared too".
"The most rewarding part of what we do is seeing women and couples flourish into better versions of themselves. Finding clarity in what they value; processing and shedding old hurts; re-aligning their expectations into more realistic, more compassionate ones; finding meaning in their day to day lives; communicating better; building confidence in their relationships (particularly with their babies); building confidence in the parenting skills; and learning to live less in the past or imagined future, and more in the present moment. We love what we do and see it as a privilege to play a role in helping our clients thrive."
APPN psychologists can be found at www.antenatalandpostnatalpsychology.com.au
APPN locations - Albert Park, Box Hill, Caulfield North, Hampton, Kew, Newport, Niddrie, North Carlton, Oakleigh, South Yarra, Watsonia, Werribee.