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Midwife trained in new bereavement support technique

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Sam Evans, who works at Queen’s Hospital in Burton, is one of the first midwives to undertake training in the innovative therapy designed to help parents come to terms with the loss of a baby.

The bereavement midwife has been trained in a technique that works on the concept that eye movement can reduce the intensity of grief and other thoughts associated with traumatic events.

“I may be one of the first midwives to have been trained in EMDR”

Sam Evans

Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Queen’s Hospital, is currently exploring the potential benefits of adopting eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR).

EMDR is based on the discovery that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts and seem to influence the way that the brain functions and processes information.

As a result, memories are no longer so raw and people can reflect on the past in a way that is less upsetting for them, according to those who support the therapy.

“I believe colleagues across the health service will find this a useful therapeutic tool”

Shirley Timson

Ms Evans recently attended an intensive three-day course on EMDR organised by nearby mental health provider South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, where the technique is already used.

She said: “I heard about this course from a colleague and joined about 30 other delegates to learn about the techniques of EMDR and how it can help.

“I understand that psychologists and social workers have been trained in EMDR in recent years, but I may be one of the first midwives to have been trained in it,” she said.

“It’s a natural therapy that helps the brain to work through deeply distressing thoughts and memories,” said Ms Evans.

She noted that “remembering and reliving the experience of losing their baby can feel as bad as experiencing it the first time”.

Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Midwife trained in new bereavement support technique

Sam Evans

She said she would be putting the techniques she had learnt into practice “straight away” and would also be talking to colleagues about how EMDR could be used more widely, for example, to help women with deep-seated phobia of labour and birth.

Consultant counselling psychologist Dr Shirley Timson leads on organising EMDR training within South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare.

She said she was “passionate” about its benefits, having seen the difference it could make to people experiencing a range of difficulties associated with previous trauma – such as accidents, bereavement or military service.

“I believe colleagues across the health service will find this a useful therapeutic tool and am delighted to have welcomed a midwife to our training,” she said.

Dr Timson added that her trust had found EMDR to be a cost-effective treatment for all levels of trauma and that it had producing excellent clinical outcomes, and was now keen to spread the word.

South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Midwife trained in new bereavement support technique

Shirley Timson

“The trust is keen to continue to develop the service and equip more staff with the skills to offer the treatment and has been funding in-house training for staff for a number of years as well as offering training to professionals from external organisations,” she said.

Helen Hurst, interim head of midwifery at the Burton trust, added: “Everybody reacts differently to grief and trauma, and at Burton we are continually looking for ways in which we can provide more personalised help and support to families who lose a baby at any stage in pregnancy.”

The trust already supports grieving parents in a number of ways, including a private suite where they can spend time with their baby and receive specialist support from midwives.

In addition, it has a quiet room featuring a giant image of a tree on the wall where parents can add a leaf bearing the name of their baby, and special memory boxes are created and given to parents to bring them comfort following the loss of their baby.

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