Counselling after a miscarriage
The Miscarriage Association does not provide a counselling service, but we know how helpful professional counselling can be.
A good counsellor can help you understand more about yourself and find strategies to help you cope. Having some space and time to speak openly about how you feel without judgement or criticism can make a huge difference too.
Julia Bueno is an experienced UKCP registered counsellor and psychotherapist who has a particular interest in working with women who have struggled with fertility or suffered a loss during pregnancy.
We spoke to her about counselling after pregnancy loss.
Finding a counsellor
You may be able to access counselling through:
- your GP,
- your hospital,
- a self-referral programme like IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Services),
- a charity (for example CRUSE, your local Mind or a local pregnancy loss support service),
- a specialist counselling charity, like Petals, the pregnancy and baby loss counselling charity
- your place of work or study, or
- a private counsellor.
If you miscarried in hospital, ask what support is available there – possibly at the early pregnancy unit (EPU) or via a perinatal bereavement team. This kind of specialist support may have a waiting list, but staff will be more experienced in pregnancy loss.
Your GP may also refer you to counselling, although this may not be to a specialist in pregnancy loss. Sadly, there are often waiting lists for counselling via the NHS and many people end up looking for help privately.
If you are seeking a counsellor privately, make sure anyone you choose is professionally accredited. The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) are the two main professional bodies which list qualified, accredited counsellors, but there are others. This means you can be sure they have been properly trained and if things go wrong you have a professional complaints procedure.
You may find counsellors offering low-cost counselling. It’s always worth asking, even if they don’t advertise this. There are some low-cost services that you may find online, and some are attached to training organisations. This means working with a counsellor who is still in training (although they may be almost fully trained).
Most counselling is face to face, but you will find some counsellors who offer their services online or over the phone.
Working with a counsellor
Research suggests that it doesn’t really matter what type of counselling you choose. It’s more important that you trust and respect your counsellor and that you feel there is a good ‘fit’ between you.
While it can help to find someone with experience of working with pregnancy loss, it shouldn’t be essential. Any good counsellor should be able to help you.
If you feel that they don’t ‘get it’, tell them and explain why. Every miscarriage is unique, and they might need help to understand your experience and needs.
It may be that your counsellor hasn’t got experience in working with pregnancy loss, but can work very well with other difficult feelings like anxiety, low mood or intrusive thoughts.
If you really don’t feel comfortable, even after explaining things, it’s best to end the sessions and find someone else. This can take courage but it’s worth it.
If you are seeking counselling on relationship and/or sexual problems, try Relate – a long-established organisation with local branches. Their services are fee-paying, possibly on a sliding scale.
If you are looking for counselling related to fertility investigations or treatment, you could try these options.
- The British Infertility Counselling Association. All counsellors have specialised training in issues relating to fertility problems, including pregnancy loss. NHS referrals may be free or fee-paying; private referrals will be fee-paying.
- If you are seeking fertility counselling in a Jewish context, try Chana, which works with people across the community.
Other support services
You can find information about the support services offered by the Miscarriage Association on our ‘How we can help’ page.
If you are seeking support from an Islamic perspective, you might like to know about the Muslim Bereavement Support Service, which offers free and confidential face-to-face and telephone support.