Improving The Mental Health & Wellbeing of Expectant & New Parents

Restored Wellbeing

Kirsten Finn is a Clinical Psychologist and Director of Restored Wellbeing, a perinatal psychology practice in Brisbane. With lived experienced of birth traumas and infant loss, and over 20 years of experience as a psychologist, Kirsten is committed to improving the mental health and wellbeing of expectant and new parents. Kirsten and her team offer psychological support to address a range of issues including prenatal and postnatal anxiety and depression, adjustment difficulties, and bonding and attachment issues. Restored Wellbeing therapists also offer a safe and compassionate environment for those navigating the complex emotions and challenges associated with traumatic birth experiences and the loss of a pregnancy and baby. 

The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?

I have always been drawn to working with mothers and babies and began working as a perinatal psychologist long before having children of my own. Stories shape our narrative and our identity. My own birth was medically traumatic, and I spent the first 6 weeks of my life in a neonatal intensive care unit. These early life experiences led to a deep curiosity about the impact of trauma on our attachment relationships and on how trauma has historically been undertreated in women. Attachment theory has been a pivotal component of my learning. What makes a good mother? Why does it sometimes go awry? This is the fascination – what are the psychological issues, barriers or events that impact on a mother? How do we support a mother to work through these challenges to ensure that she is able to meet her own needs and thrive and then meet the needs of her child? Perinatal psychology allows us to consider all aspects of the parent, the baby and their relationship. Working in a private perinatal practice allows me to have a significant impact on the lives and mental health of whole family systems, primarily by enhancing the mental health of parents.

Image credit: The Joan Collective
What draws me in?

The perinatal period, from preconception through to 3 years after birth, is critical time where the mental health of a baby begins, and it is a unique time where women are highly motivated to seek help. Women are much more open to accessing support when they know their baby will benefit! By supporting mothers, we support entire family networks and interrupt cycles of intergenerational trauma or poorly managed mental health issues. We work with women at a point where they just don’t feel like themselves – they know there is something not right, even if they are unsure of what exactly that is. They are worried about how their mental health might impact on their baby, family or their relationship, and they know that things could be a lot better. While a mother is attending to the needs of her baby, the role of a therapist is to attend to the psychological needs of the mother.

Being a perinatal psychologist means that I need to be able to provide psychological interventions for all mental health conditions but be able to tailor those interventions to the specific needs of women at this developmental point in time.

Why focus on women?

There is a complexity to women’s mental health. In the perinatal period, there are significant hormonal changes, physical body changes, identity changes, role changes, workplace and financial changes and often significant shifts and changes within our social and attachment relationships. Interestingly, any time of change is a high-risk time for mental health symptoms, and a woman in her fertility years is experiencing several significant changes all at once. At Restored Wellbeing, our therapists hold in mind a holistic view of each mother and consider the numerous stressors and pressures that might be impacting on her wellbeing. Each woman we encounter has her own unique experience that we seek to understand, and together we develop plans to enhance her mental health and wellbeing. 

The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?

In the beginning, I started out as a sole clinician, working very part time as my children entered primary school. As my children have grown, I have expanded my practice to include other clinicians, all with a focus on providing perinatal mental health support.

I met my colleague, Dianna Giles, back in 2009 when we worked together in a large maternity hospital. We spoke of one day opening our own practice to really focus on meeting the needs of families during a time of vulnerability and change. Several years ago, we were able to make this happen, and we haven’t looked back since. Our practice is slowly growing as we come to serve more and more women and families during their fertility and parenting experience.

The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?

What we value in our practice are the different areas of expertise and competence that each therapist brings. Whilst we all work broadly within the perinatal mental health space, we each have areas of interest that we have developed further skills in and clients can seek out a therapist who best fits their needs. These days, I work mainly within the space of birth trauma and/or loss, working with women who have psychological symptoms stemming from a traumatic birth or traumatic postnatal experiences. Dianna Giles has extensive experience as a grief and loss therapist who offers support to those who have experienced fertility, pregnancy or infant loss.  Dianna is also an experienced relationship counsellor who helps new parents overcome relationship difficulties that are often exacerbated under the strain of additional parenting responsibilities. Kamellia Trebilco brings years of experience working with parents and children and focuses on adjustment, depression, anxiety and bonding issues. We also have new staff joining us in the coming months. 

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