Counselling and support
Free counselling services with a trained counsellor are routinely available to all upon request.
Location: Counselling is generally provided within the premises of The Centre. When required, arrangements for counselling in the distantly located Department of Psychology at the St James's site can be made. Couples can request to be counselled together or individually. You may seek assistance at any time before, during or after treatment. It is entirely confidential and private between you and the counsellor and will not be judgmental or prejudicial. The counsellor is also HFEA licensed and has a statutory duty in exceptional circumstances to give essential information that may affect the Welfare of future or existing children to the team.
Access: There are no limits to the number of times you attend and to make an appointment you can ring the unit directly any time during the working days of the week. Couples needing assistance of interpreters are advised to either bring a known interpreter with them or give sufficient notice for an interpreter to be arranged by the trust.
Counselling can take several forms, namely:
- Support: This is to discuss the social and emotional aspects of sub-fertility, help you at times of distress or confusion and to minimise the potential impact of treatment outcome to you and your partner.
- Discussion of Implications: We may advise you to see the counsellors in specific circumstances to discuss the implications of certain aspects of your treatments and the choices you may wish to consider. It is best if you request an appointment with the counsellor after you have had a chance to read our information booklets and attend the new patient seminar.
- Therapeutic: This is when the counsellor helps you devise coping strategies to understand your feelings, prevent guilt or self harm and help to develop the ability to come to terms with the situation.
- Assessment: Whenever there is a concern that you may not have understood the issues relevant to the Welfare of the Future or Existing child / children, the team may refer you for an assessment by the counsellor.
What are the emotional effects of infertility?
Infertility can lead to considerable distress and unhappiness. The impact of infertility varies from person to person and changes with time. For some people, the strongest response is one of grief related to the losses that may be experienced. There is the loss of the potential child, the loss of the parenting experience, the loss of control in some areas of their life, and perhaps, the loss of a particular self-image, in view of the great value placed on parenthood in our society. Not surprisingly, people experiencing infertility may go through a series of emotional reactions typical of other grief reactions including shock, helplessness, anger and depression. The intensity of these feelings varies between individuals.
Relationships may also be affected by infertility. These effects may be positive, bringing the couple closer together, or negative - where one partner finds it difficult to understand and sympathise with the other’s distress.
Infertility treatment can provide additional stresses. For some people, years of infertility treatment may place their lives on hold so that plans cannot be made. Expectations are often raised to be followed by frustration and despair.
Additional stresses include financial pressures, discovering new information about the fertility problem and sometimes having to make difficult choices.
How do couples cope with Assisted Conception Treatment?
Treatment with IVF or other assisted conception involves specific stresses with the threat of failed treatment at every stage of the procedure. The periods which people find most stressful are waiting to see if treatment has worked and discovering it has not worked. After an unsuccessful treatment cycle, people may experience a grief reaction which varies in strength between individuals.
How can counselling help?
- Counselling may help you to:
- Explore and understand feelings and experiences.
- Identify areas of uncertainty.
- Consider the alternatives available to you.
- Cope with the emotional consequences of infertility and treatment.
Are couples required to attend counselling sessions?
The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority(HFEA) have stated in their Code of Practice that people who are undergoing licensed treatment, including IVF, must be given a suitable opportunity to receive proper counselling. They further state that no-one is obliged to accept counselling, although it is generally recognised as beneficial.
Counselling is available to every couple or individual diagnosed with fertility problems or who is undergoing investigations and treatment for infertility at the Reproductive Medicine Unit, and to those who, for any reason, have ceased to be involved in active treatment.
Is counselling confidential?
Whatever you talk about with the counsellor will be known only to the counsellor. There are some exceptional circumstances in which counsellors are obliged to reveal certain information. They will explain this to you.
Will decisions about treatment be affected?
Counselling is independent from the treatment decision-marking process. That is, decisions about offering or continuing treatment are not influenced by attending counselling.
Who provides the counselling service?
The team includes three counsellors (2 female and 1 male) and a clinical psychologist. The counsellors are based in the LCRM and provide daytime and evening sessions. The psychologist also provides daytime sessions at St James’s Hospital. If you wish to make an appointment, you may do so by telephoning: The Leeds Centre for Reproductive Medicine on: 0113 2063100
There is no additional charge for counselling as it is already included in the cost of treatment.