Crisis Therapy As A Treatment Program For Post-Partum Stress

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


The impetus for this study came from the literature indicating that first time motherhood constitutes a psychological crisis and that no systematic treatment exists to assist new mothers. The purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of crisis therapy on facilitating post-partum adjustment in mothers of first children. The aim was to provide an opportunity for women to process feelings surrounding their new roles as a means of minimizing anxiety and depression and maximizing feelings of competency to parent as measured by self-report, interview and projective data. A crisis treatment program was designed to act as a vehicle for new mothers to express ambivalent feelings associated with the stresses of new motherhood. The question to be answered by this study was whether crisis therapy would minimize anxiety and depression and increase feelings of competency to parent, thus offering psychological and emotional support to new mothers.Treatment consisted of in-home individual counseling sessions including an anticipatory guidance session before birth and six weekly sessions beginning the first week post-partum. Ss were 45 middle-class, married women between the ages of 20 and 39. Effects of treatment were compared on several dependent measures among groups: (1) a crisis therapy group; (2) an attention-only group; and (3) a no-attention, no therapy group.No effects due to treatment were found on the dependent measures, indicating that the treatment did not effect depression, anxiety or competency to parent. However, subjective reports of the Ss participating in this study suggest that those women who received the crisis therapy thought that all new mothers should be given a similar opportunity to process their feelingsIn addition, several post-hoc findings about the Ss independent of treatment were demonstrated. These findings included: (1) Ss who underwent Caesarian Sections were more depressed than those who experienced vaginal births; (2) women who were less depressed rated their husbands as being more helpful; (3) the more depressed the women were, the more poorly they felt about themselves. . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of school.) UMI


Psychology, Clinical

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