Perinatal Dyadic Psychotherapy: Design, Implementation, and Acceptability

Maternal postpartum depression (PPD) and mother-infant relationship dysfunction have reciprocal effects on each other and thus an integrated approach that addresses both problems simultaneously may lead to improved outcomes. This study aimed to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a new intervention, Perinatal Dyadic Psychotherapy (PDP), for the early treatment of maternal PPD. PDP is designed to promote maternal mental health and facilitate optimal mother-infant relationships via (a) a supportive, relationship-based, mother-infant psychotherapeutic component, and (b) a developmentally-based infant-oriented component focused on promoting positive mother-infant interactions. This paper describes the pilot use of PDP with six acutely depressed postpartum women. Nurses delivered the intervention over eight home visits. Results indicate that PDP is a feasible, acceptable, and safe intervention with this population. All participants achieved remission of depression with significant reduction in of depression and anxiety symptoms, suggesting that PDP is a promising treatment for PPD.