The key to moving on from the pain and loss is awareness and understanding  

  14 Guidepost Programme 

I had become so angry with and at everyone. I had two abortions. They weren't my choice really. The first one was when I was 17. He said he would leave me and he did, after I had the abortion. And then at 24 I became pregnant and again he would not support me. I went ahead again with an abortion. Then it hit me what I had done. My grief is unending and I hate him now for all I've been through. The P.A.T.H.S. programme gave me a way to understand myself more and move on past the anger. It felt like my life was over and now I can see things more clearly and feel more positive about the future. I have reclaimed my babies and named them. No-one can take them from me again. It was so helpful to have someone to talk to who didn't judge me or my situation. It felt scary coming at first, but my counsellor was warm and listened and helped me to come to terms with what happened. (M - 20003)

For those who would like to work through issues of loss and trauma we use a proven 14 Guidepost Programme The programme is developed from the former USA Victims of Choice's Abortion Recovery Programme and is a person-centred holistic approach to healing after abortion/termination, or any pregnancy-baby loss experience. The Hope for the Hurting: 14 Guidepost Programme is based on the training Carolina Gnad has provided as part of the P.A.T.H.S. Seminars over the past twenty years.

Outline of the Programme

Guidepost 1: Engagement and storying
Therapeutic alliance, assessment, preparation

Guidepost 2: Pre-pregnancy
Historical context, development and functioning

Guidepost 3: The pregnancy
Relationship, circumstances, emotions and reactions

Guidepost 4: The decision
Decision-making process, influences and pressures

Guidepost 5: The event
Recollection of the abortion/termination day

Guidepost 6: Adjustment
Impacts and coping afterwards

Guidepost 7: Hurts
Nature of hurts, addressing hurts

Guidepost 8: Anger
Feeling angry and working with anger

Guidepost 9: Judgements
Anatomy of a judgement, specific judgments

Guidepost 10: Possible victimhood
Victim-like behaviour, invitation to change

Guidepost 11: Guilt
Types of guilt, resolving guilt

Guidepost 12: Forgiveness
Unforgiveness and a process of forgiveness

Guidepost 13: Continuing bonds
Maternal bond and remembrance

Guidepost 14: Moving forward
Review, celebrate, and new directions

The important thing is the process of unpacking what happened, and what that has meant for you. Counselling after an abortion is about discovering what is most significant in the experience for you. It is about confronting the reality of the loss(es). It is about seeing the bigger picture of who was involved and how it came about. Self awareness and tuning into feelings is necessary to journey through the grief. Feeling supported to deal with aspects of trauma is vital. This may seem daunting. However, all that is needed is finding the courage to take the first step.

Reaching out for help is not easy and opening up to someone about such a personal experience can be painful. Some people just need to share their story and feel heard, others want to go through the in-depth programme of healing. P.A.T.H.S. counsellors aim to respond to your individual needs.

Reaching out for help - hard but good.

Making the first step to speak to someone was not an easy one as it meant to me that I was no longer in control of myself as I needed to seek help. Despite this I knew what needed to be done.
My GP gave me the contact details for The Family Life Pregnancy Centre where I met a counsellor from P.A.T.H.S., and I am so glad that she did.
My counsellor taught me that its ok to feel the way that I did, she helped me to look back at the last 5 years and to see my life as on outsider would. She helped me to put everything into perspective and to create a sense of ownership in that the story that I had just told was in fact my story, and that it is what has helped to make me the person that I am. She helped me to grieve which was something that I had never done and most importantly she encouraged me to acknowledge my babies (for I had aborted twins), to allow thoughts of them through and to think of them as part of me and not something to hide away from myself and others.
(L 2007)

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