By law counselling must be offered to all women considering an abortion in New Zealand. Many clinics or hospitals include counselling for all women accessing their abortion services.
The exact content of the counselling session will vary from clinic to clinic but should comply with the Standards of Practice for the Provision of Counselling (PDF 128 KB) guidelines laid down by the Abortion Supervisory Committee.
Counselling options may include the following (not all options may be available at every clinic):
Most clinics accept self-referrals for pre-decision counselling. Only a small number of women will feel the need for this. Pre-decision counselling may also involve the client's partner/family if it is requested and appropriate.
The social worker/counsellor provides practical, emotional and counselling support during the decision-making process. Counselling offers clients the opportunity to explore relevant feelings and issues related to an unplanned pregnancy, and the options available. It also aims to help the woman gain a clearer understanding of her situation, clarify any conflicts involving the future of her pregnancy and support herself in the decision made.
Client information/resources on parenting, adoption, family placement/whangai, Guardianship and appropriate support services are provided in verbal and written form to give all relevant information regarding options and to help plan her decision making process. During pre-decision counselling abortion is discussed as an option at the request of the woman.
Couple and family/whānau counselling
Couple and/or whānau counselling can be provided if the woman requests it, in discussion with the social worker/counsellor. Some relationships become stressed when facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Partners and family members may find it difficult to communicate their thoughts and feelings honestly and appropriately. The aim of couple and family/whānau counselling is to offer significant others an opportunity to explore their feelings and the issues related to an unplanned pregnancy. Couple counselling can also assist a woman to resolve any relationship conflicts that may impact on her ability to make an independent and well-informed decision about her pregnancy.
Further (additional pre-TOP) counselling
It may be appropriate that a woman and/or her partner/family receive additional counselling before going forward with a termination. Further counselling can be provided at the discretion of both the social worker/counsellor and the woman. The aim of further counselling is ensure that a woman has had the time to make a safe and well-informed decision.
Day One/Pre-abortion counselling
This offers women practical and emotional support. It is also an opportunity to explore the relevant feelings and issues related to an unplanned pregnancy and the decision to terminate. It aims to help the woman gain a clearer understanding of her situation, clarify any conflicts involving the future of her pregnancy, and support herself in the decision made.
This session will cover most or all of the following:
- A brief social assessment of woman's current situation.
- Exploring moral/ethical, cultural and spiritual/religious issues that may impact on her decision.
- Exploring issues of loss and grief as they relate to pregnancy termination.
- Fetal development.
- A review of risks and complications for Informed Consent process.
- Contraception education - looking at past history, current options, and problems with past methods.
- Sexual health education - helping women to make safer choices.
- Description of the relevant abortion procedure.
- Referrals to other agencies when appropriate for ongoing assistance.
Post-abortion counselling can be requested and is offered by the social worker/counsellor to all women. This is short-term counselling with a maximum of six appointments. A woman's partner may be involved if requested and appropriate. Counselling aims to assist clients address any unresolved issues related to the pregnancy termination and to support their emotional recovery after an abortion.
Last Updated: 20 May 2006