# 122 April 2010

"As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins."

Albert Schweitzer

(continues below)

mental health professional trainings
primary care professional trainings
psychological assessment supervision and consultations
Shawn Christopher Shea
links and recommended readings


# 122 April 2010

Helping with the Psychological Stress Post-Abortion

TISA Description of the Problem: Here is a really wonderful tip given to me by a primary care physician at a recent conference, Scott Stringfield, MD. Scott addresses the difficulty some women may have in sharing their pain regarding a recent abortion and in some clinicians asking about it.

Tip: If during an initial History and Physical, or during subsequent care, a clinician uncovers that a patient has had an abortion, it can be easy for a clinician to sort of "skip over" the topic and move on. In reality, I think it is important to help the patient feel free to discuss the topic, for it may have a PTSD-like component, and often there have been very few opportunities for the patient to share their feelings.

I ask, "How are you doing with that?" If the patient says "Fine" I add,"If you ever need to talk about it, I'm here to listen." If instead the patient says something like, "I'm not doing too well", then I can sensitively open the topic for more sharing by saying, "Tell me a little more about how you have been dealing with it." I find that the above approach often leads to important sharing and healing.

TISA Follow-up: I have little to add except this tip shows once again the power of a single question to relieve pain, as well as the power of teaching specific, concrete clinical interviewing tips to our trainees. This one is a gem.

Tip provided by:

Scott Stringfield, M.D.
Via Christi Family Medicine

TISA is a site dedicated to advancing the science and art of preventing suicide and teaching clinical interviewing