Professional counselling is offered – preferably – by certified public or local counselling centres, or by certified independent organisations.
Mothers affected by postpartum/peripartum crises can find specialist, competent advisors in pregnancy counselling centres (Schwangerenberatungsstelle) or in psychological / social help / psychiatry centres (Psychosoziale Beratungsstelle / Sozialpsychiatrischer Dienst). Support is also available for the mother’s relatives who are indirectly affected by these crises. The great advantage of these counselling centres is that, in most cases, support is offered quickly (within a few days or weeks) and for free. No doctor’s referral is necessary. These centres also often have branch offices in rural areas that can be reached quickly and easily. In addition to providing initial information and activating local networks, these centres offer long-term counselling in the form of individual sessions, depending on the mother’s needs and the severity of the condition. It is also possible to take part in group sessions if there is the capacity and demand for them. Advisors are bound by a duty of confidentiality.
Fortunately, not all mothers affected by postpartum/peripartum depression need in-patient psychiatric treatment or long-tern psychotherapy. Many affected mothers receive appropriate, targeted support from out-patient counselling sessions, but unfortunately this form of professional help is still relatively unknown as far as postpartum/peripartum illnesses are concerned. For example, few prospective parents as well as specialists know that pregnancy counselling in specialist centres is available up to the child’s third birthday – which covers the period in which postpartum/peripartum illness occurs. If the focus is on strengthening the emotional ties between the mother/father and the baby, parents can get professional support from child guidance centres (Erziehungsberatungsstelle) and early years support centres (Frühförderstelle). The addresses of the relevant counselling centres are listed in your local phone book or on the Internet (under the German names given in brackets) or you can find some on the list of the practise-based experts on this website.