Attachment and bonding

mother and child

I specialise in working with new parents, from conception through to early years, to explore feelings of ambivalence, loss, and worries about bonding with your baby. Whether you had or are having a difficult pregnancy, a traumatic birth, or are suffering from postnatal depression, I offer practical help and support to address the underlying issues and build your relationship with your child to maximise yours and their wellbeing. I also feel passionately that there should be more accessible help and support for fathers, who often get neglected by services.

Fostered and adopted children

foster children

I offer specialist support for ‘looked after’ and adopted children living away from their birth families. My training in Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) and Mentalisation enables me to teach parents how to parent therapeutically with children who have developmental trauma or attachment difficulties, as well as how to understand and reduce problematic behaviours.

How can I help you?

Many years of experience working with new parents and their babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers have given me a solid grounding in parental and family issues such as:

  • Ambivalence in pregnancy and childbirth 
  • Bonding difficulties 
  • Child behaviour problems
  • Excessive crying
  • Feeding and toileting problems
  • Impact of domestic violence
  • Infant sleep problems
  • Miscarriage
  • Postnatal depression
  • Traumatic birth experiences

However you’re feeling right now, it doesn’t have to be this way. Contact me to discuss the issues you are facing and book an appointment.

Your questions answered

How can seeing a psychologist help me and my child?  

Working with a Clinical Psychologist involves thinking together about what happens in your family, paying particular attention to how feelings and relationships are managed. If your child is regularly distressed to the degree that it interferes with family life or with their learning at school, a psychologist can help you think about ways to make sure the child’s needs get met as they learn the skills they need to manage feelings. This might include some work just with you as parents to think about how you could respond differently.

How is seeing a clinical psychologist different from seeing a counsellor or psychiatrist?

This is a common question that most people don’t know the answer to unless they have seen one of these professionals before. A psychologist trains to PhD level in applying psychological theory and research to the problems people face in their lives. They have experience working with a range of different kinds of people with different issues, from bereavement to trauma and mental health problems. They use talking therapies to help you make sense of why you have the problems you have and ways out of that situation. 

Psychologists are trained in a variety of clinical and therapeutic approaches, whereas counsellors generally have a briefer training in one way of working with one client group e.g. adults. Psychiatrists are medically trained doctors who prescribe medication to help with serious mental health issues e.g. antidepressants.

How many sessions are usually needed?

This is hard to say as it depends on the issue, the age of the child, etc. Typically I suggest we have a first appointment to see if we can work together helpfully, and then I recommend agreeing on a series of six sessions with a review in appointment six. This allows us to have a chance to see if we are starting to understand things better together and begin to make some changes. At the review we often extend and continue to work together for as long as is helpful. One of the benefits of working with a private psychologist is that you can return to see the same person who already knows you whenever you want extra support.

Why would a pre-school child need to see a psychologist?

It is hard to think about a child under school age needing psychological help. However, research has shown that the first three years are a time of such rapid brain development that intervening at this point may well prevent more serious issues later on. Many adults with mental health problems who go to therapy start to make sense of how their early experiences perhaps taught them unhelpful coping strategies for dealing with feelings. 

Having a new baby is hard for so many reasons. It’s a challenging time and the effect of sleep deprivation should not be underestimated. It can bring up difficult feelings when you don’t feel like being close with your baby or you feel angry with them. Working with a psychologist can help you to unpick where these feelings come from and work out how best to cope with them. This can then allow your relationship with your child to flourish.

Can a traumatic birth impact your bond with your baby?

The short answer is yes, but it doesn’t have to. Many parents feel a sense of loss when their delivery was not how they imagined or when something frightening took place. These memories can linger and cause you to feel jumpy, distracted or even frustrated with your baby. Having an opportunity to process your emotional experience of birth can allow space to develop that bond with your child.

Will the sessions be confidential?

What you talk about remains between you and your Psychologist unless there are concerns about anyone’s safety. Psychologists undergo clinical supervision in order to remain registered and able to practice, so they may discuss your problems with their supervisor but will not identify you. The most important part of therapy is building a trusting relationship where you feel safe to talk about anything that’s on your mind. Shame can be silencing, but rest assured your Psychologist understands the full range of experiences and will be interested in how things feel for you.