Counselling services at Genea
At Genea we appreciate that infertility and its treatment may be a crisis in your life, and that undertaking treatment is an exciting but also scary process. In line with our philosophy of providing the best care possible, we have a counselling service that is readily available to you, and we encourage you to see this service as another component of our care for you.
At Genea we have three trained infertility counsellors - Evelyn Zwahlen, Christine Singleton and Lynne Perl (currently on leave).
You can either make an appointment to meet face to face, or talk on the phone. There is no charge for counselling during treatment. If you are not currently a Genea patient but still dealing with infertility and/or reproductive loss, you may contact one of our counsellors and arrange for private counselling. At various times the counsellors run Mind/Body programs to assist women in managing the stress and isolation of infertility and treatment. These are advertised on our website, via pamphlets at reception and doctors’ offices, or you can inquire with our counsellors.
For all counselling inquiries, please call our main reception on 1300 361 795.
How will I know if I need to see a counsellor?
You may wonder whether or not you need to see a counsellor when you are having treatment. Some people think they may be perceived negatively if they seek help, or that they have to be very depressed before talking to a counsellor. Sometimes just being able to talk about your anxieties and feelings can help to normalise them. Many couples choose not to tell family and friends about their treatment which means you can feel quite isolated and alone.
You may discover that you were unprepared for the emotional roller coaster ride, and that dealing with disappointment and uncertainty leaves you feeling moody and fragile. Common reactions to infertility may include anxiety, irritability, anger, sadness, crying, depression, loss of self-esteem, isolation, guilt, anger and relationship difficulties.
We know that men and women cope very differently with their infertility. “Research has found women to be more profoundly disturbed by infertility than men, to feel more personally inadequate because of it, to take more responsibility for planning treatment, to have an easier time talking about it, and to feel more comfortable seeking emotional support for infertility”. Women often seek counselling because “they want to have a special place where they can be understood, can grieve, and can learn some coping strategies” (Zolbrod, A.P. (1993) Men, Women and Infertility).
Men seek understanding of their partner’s distress and ways of helping them. One of the more difficult challenges for men in dealing with infertility is the feeling of helplessness, the inability to fix the problem or make their partner feel better. Some women feel that whatever their partner does, it is not enough because he is not going through the physical side of treatment. Sometimes, talking about your expectations of each other can lead to more understanding and tolerance of your partner’s position.
For many couples, making the decision to start IVF is not an easy one. It is not unusual for women to feel let down and angry with their bodies and/or for the partner who has been diagnosed with the infertility problem to feel ashamed and guilty. Your motivation and sense of purpose in life can be severely challenged. Work can seem irrelevant, and slowly you may find yourself feeling consumed by the infertility treatment.
Talking to someone who is skilled in these areas and knowledgeable about infertility treatment is a positive coping strategy.
What happens in counselling?
The counsellor will ask you about your background, your history of infertility, the effects of infertility on you and how you have managed the stresses of infertility to date. The kinds of issues, which often come up for couples include:
- dealing with the emotional roller coaster ride
- coping with other peoples’ pregnancies and children
- how/if to tell family/friends/colleagues
- managing stress
- relationship difficulties with partner, family and/or friends
- moving towards considering other options e.g. egg donation, adoption.
Infertility is often difficult to manage, and is exacerbated when it is prolonged, when there isn’t family or social support at hand, when there are other major stresses in your life, or when you have had other losses. The counsellor’s role is to provide a framework for you to explore your thoughts and feelings, to enhance your coping strategies, and to anticipate and assist in managing IVF treatment stresses.
Find out more about natural fertility at Genea Holistic or call us on 1300 367 198