Program Structure

 

NICU Healing's services are offered in two formats: individual and couples counseling. Both programs are 8 weeks long and focus on providing clients with resources to cope, not only in the present moment, but for some time after taking the program.

In each program (couples or individuals), the first session will consist of an initial assessment. Based on the specific needs of you and your family, I will create your unique, individualized program and distribute to you the materials, including the therapeutic workbook of your choice.

Clients of NICU Healing will receive a scrapbook containing content specific to their baby's health, the specific needs of the parents as individuals, as well as containing the written materials of the NICU Healing program. By using the therapeutic workbook, clients will have a written record of both their baby's milestones, as well as their own personal milestones in moving through this experience.

Following the initial assessment, clients will spend a total of six weeks working towards their spoken goals, as well as addressing other elements that may come up in that process. NICU Healing clients will meet with me via Skype once a week, or once per chapter (a total of 8 times) for an hour to process the clinical work they've completed. After each meeting, clients will receive clinical "assignments" to be completed prior to the next session.

In the final session, NICU Healing clients will collaboratively work to identify what was useful about the program and their hopes in moving forward. Assessments by both the client and the therapist at that point will highlight whether further work may be helpful to the clients, as well as what support systems the clients have in place in moving on.


NICU Healing: Individuals

The individual NICU Healing program helps parents to develop a deeper understanding of their experience of having a baby in the NICU, stop blaming themselves for what happened, create a safe space for themselves to process the grief, anger and depression that may have been triggered by the experience, and to develop a strong relationship with their baby or babies. In eight weeks, the following clinical goals will be addressed:

  • Creating a safe space in your home to meet with me and to use as a "decompression" point in the future
  • Identifying the "sparkling moments" in your baby's care, and using relaxation exercises to cope with the anxiety
  • Education about attachment theory, and how you can facilitate the healthiest attachment with your preemie that you can, even if they are still hospitalized or medically fragile
  • Developing a team of support
  • Coming to terms with "the new normal" in your life, and changing your perspective on parenting, what you expected, and societal expectations
  • Exploring "the double meaning of trauma"-- developing a deeper understanding of the very real trauma that you experienced, and exploring what kind of meaning that that holds for you
  • Identifying the unique strengths that both you and your baby have in facing this challenge
  • Processing the changes in your life and the transitions that your baby will make in the future-- we will discuss the ideas that you will "take away from" the NICU experience because they are valuable to you, as well as the ideas that you want to leave behind
  • Completing an autobiographical narrative about what's happened, and developing a plan for moving forward

After conducting your initial assessment during our first session, I will carefully modify the program to suit the needs of you and your family so that NICU Healing will provide you with the most optimal of services considering your specific situation.

 

NICU Healing: Couples

The couples component of NICU Healing is an opportunity for couples to recalibrate with each other. Oftentimes, when couples go through traumatic experiences they have different ways of coping with it. This can cause stress on a partnership, and many parents who have had a baby in the NICU report that their relationship with their partner suffered significantly. NICU Healing for couples addresses the following clinical goals:

  • Creating a safe space for you and your partner to process what happened (birth experience through the first year home)
  • Identifying the strengths in your partnership, and how your different ways of coping have benefitted your baby's outcome
  • Identifying the coping mechanisms that may function to isolate each individual from their partner
  • Examining useful ways of communicating in your partnership versus the more challenging ways of communicating
  • Speaking to the anxiety and depression that each partner may feel as a result of the NICU experience, and identifying ways that you can help each other
  • Exploring the effects of the trauma on your relationship, and what value you can derive from it
  • Identifying the challenges and differences in the stresses that you are facing together, and how you can find support in facing these things moving forward
  • Developing a deeper and sometimes stronger connection with your partner and as a family unit, due to creating a space where you deliberately make an effort to do so
  • Identifying your roles in moving forward and caring for your infant(s) in the coming months
  • Gaining an understanding of your partner's experience, and they of yours, and garnering a mutual respect
  • Collaboratively developing an autobiographical narrative of what's happened, and examining the unique roles that each parent played in getting through it together

After conducting your initial assessment during our first session, I will carefully modify the program to suit the needs of you and your family so that NICU Healing will provide you with the most optimal of services considering your specific situation.

 

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person you walked in.
— Haruki Murakami