Nurse's Determination To Help New Mothers Leads To Masters Success

10 January 2012

Deborah Morgan

Deborah Morgan, who has set up the charity Perinatal Illness UK will graduate on January 20

My aim is to re-build the charity, re-establish the support groups and continue with the campaign for increased therapeutic service. 

Deborah Morgan

A Derby nurse whose charity has helped more than 250,000 women who suffer from mental health problems in pregnancy, will receive a Masters degree from the University of Derby on January 20 (2012).

Deborah Morgan, 47, from Ashbourne will graduate with a Masters (MSc) degree in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy at the University's Annual Awards ceremony at Derby's Assembly Rooms.

Deborah has been a registered nurse for 24 years, and currently works at the Royal Derby Hospital. She set up the charity Perinatal Illness UK nine years ago, after realising that many parents who experience mental health problems from 28 weeks into pregnancy until six weeks after the birth were not getting the psychological support they needed, sometimes with tragic results.

The charity has supported and advised around 250,000 women since it was launched in 2003 with Fern Britton as Patron.

Deborah explains: "Pregnant women and new mothers may suffer from distressing psychological or emotional conditions as a result of miscarriage, stillbirth, a baby's illness or a difficult birth. Sometimes these problems can then repeat themselves in later pregnancies.

"I set up the charity and the website to give these women and their families appropriate advice and support for their perinatal illness. This could be through counselling, psychotherapy and group support work. We also use an online forum where people can post their problems."

With popular TV presenter Fern Britton as its Patron for its first three years, the charity had great success in a campaign to increase the number of mother and baby psychiatric units in the UK. In 2005 there were just eight, and now there are 25.

Deborah decided to study towards the Masters degree at Derby to obtain the skills and training to help women and their families affected by perinatal mental ill-health, and to qualify as a Specialist Perinatal Counsellor and Psychotherapist.

During the MSc, which she studied part time whilst working at the Royal Derby Hospital.

"We looked at the stories of 5,000 women that the charity had helped. Many had been diagnosed with postnatal depression but it became clear through my research that a lot of them actually had psychological trauma symptoms and so needed different support altogether," Deborah added.

"The wrong support and treatment can have a big impact on a woman's recovery and their baby's development, so it's vital that we get their care right. Knowing this, my aim is to re-build the charity, re-establish the support groups and continue with the campaign for increased therapeutic services. I also want to push for the inclusion of integrative counselling and psychotherapy using person-centred therapy, attachment therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy methods to facilitate recovery."

Programme Leader on the Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy Masters programme, Margaret Smith, said: "Deborah's dedication to forwarding knowledge and understanding of perinatal healthcare is inspirational.

"Her innovative research has helped to identify how integrative therapy can benefit women suffering from perinatal illnesses. Deborah's work is a wonderful example of the value of studying and practicing integrative psychotherapy at Masters level."

Deborah added: "I owe much of my success on the course to the help and support of my tutor Dr Margaret Smith to whom I am greatly indebted."

For more information on the Masters degree in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy visit

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