Group to support new mothers
December 29, 2011
Being a perfect mother is an unattainable goal.
When a woman tries to fit all of the unrealistic demands that society flashes at her through film, books, TV and magazines, she is going to fall short, and, consequently, feel inadequate.
Elizabeth Dosher knows this because she’s a mother of two who also happens to be a licensed clinical worker.
"Motherhood has always been a hard job, but I think in current times it’s getting more difficult," Dosher said during an interview with The Park Record. "Families are more isolated now from their extended families. Therefore, women have less emotional and social support, and they behave in the realm of normal and yell at their kids or feel overwhelmed or have days when they don’t enjoy being a mother. They feel there is something wrong with them when it’s actually a normal experience."
That’s why she started a therapeutic support group for new mothers. This one-hour session is designed to address the trials of relationships, body image, irritability, depression, tension and life balance. Women may join the session by calling Dosher at (435) 513-2280. The cost is $15.
"Having gone through the whole parenting thing myself, I felt the need for women to get more support within the community," Dosher said. "I think part of what got me interested in focusing on women’s issues is that oftentimes the woman is invalidated when they admit they are having a hard time.
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"In our society, there is a lot of shame in admitting that we’re struggling and some women fear that they will be judged unfit as a parent," she said. "I think we need to demystify what it means to be a mother and what it means to be a good mother vs. a perfect mother,"
Dosher, who worked with substance-abuse clients at Cornerstone Counseling in Salt Lake City and Valley Mental Health in Park City, said she decided to focus on women’s issues after she had her own children.
"I began meeting all of these new mothers, and it seemed like a theme that they all couldn’t admit to those around them that they were having problems, and that they had a hard time finding any kind of support," she said. "There were increased incidents of anxiety, sleeplessness and depression, and there weren’t a lot of people for them to turn to."
Dosher also noticed that these women were being prescribed medication to manage anxiety or to help them sleep, but the real issues of all these internal and external expectations weren’t being addressed.
"The medical community has limitations regarding how it can treat women and sometimes lacks the ability to really assess what is going on, whether it is post-partum syndrome and something less clinical," she said. "The idea behind the support group is to provide women with a community of other women who are going through similar experiences and normalize and validate what they are feeling."
Other aspects of the group include stress- and anxiety-management skills, working and communication skills, and working through relationship challenges.
"One major aspect of becoming a parent is realizing all our relationships are defined differently whether it’s our friendships, our partners, our extended families," Dosher said. "It’s important for women to derive meaning in their life, because it’s not just about being a mother. It means having other components, and they need to explore who they want to be."
All the group sessions are confidential.
"This is different than sitting around talking to your girlfriends, because there is an agreement of confidentiality and anything that is said is kept within the group," Dosher said.
Also, the group is set in a non-judgmental atmosphere.
"When we talk to our friends and families, we hear advice and their opinions, which aren’t very helpful," Dosher said. "My job as a facilitator is to help people to learn to be more supportive of each other. This way they can have a dialogue with themselves in a social environment and bounce ideas off of each other to figure out their own personal truth."
Lastly, when women call to join the group, Dosher will conduct a prescreening process to make sure that there aren’t severe clinical issues that need to be addressed in individual therapy.
"If there are some issues, I also do individual therapy," she said. "If group therapy isn’t what they want, but want help, we can find other resources for them as well."
For more information about Conversations about Motherhood: A Therapeutic Support Group, call Elizabeth Dosher at (435) 513-2280.