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10-09-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 12/2019 Open Access

Journal of Child and Family Studies 12/2019

Psychological Therapy for Postnatal Depression in UK Primary Care Mental Health Services: A Qualitative Investigation Using Framework Analysis

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 12/2019
Holly Hadfield, Suzanne Glendenning, Penny Bee, Anja Wittkowski
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Postnatal depression (PND) can have negative consequences for mother and infant. Current psychological therapies are effective in treating depression but improvements in mother-infant outcomes have not yet been established. We aimed to capture mothers’ experiences of therapy for PND with a focus on parenting-related outcomes. We also sought their views on including parenting support within interventions.


Fourteen mothers who received psychological therapy in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were audio-recorded, transcribed, coded and analysed using Framework Analysis.


Three main themes were identified: ‘The experience of therapy’, ‘Therapy outcomes’ and ‘Views about parenting interventions for postnatal depression’. The main themes were underpinned by other themes. Overall the findings revealed that mothers perceived therapy as helpful in improving mood, confidence as a parent and relationship with their infant. Mothers valued the process of normalising their experiences within group therapy and by their therapists because it reduced any shame and stigma associated with PND. Mothers thought parenting support within therapy would be acceptable if delivered collaboratively.


Primary care-based psychological therapy for PND was perceived as helpful and acceptable. It clearly met some of the mothers’ goals, especially if their beliefs about being a ‘bad mother’ was challenged and modified. Barriers to engagement, such as childcare issues and therapist’s knowledge about perinatal mental health, would also need to be overcome. Finally, mother-infant interventions should be further explored as an adjunct treatment option.

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