The road to fertility isn’t always easy and it can be much more difficult for some than others. If conceiving a baby feels like an elusive dream, you may be plagued with mental and emotional issues that deserve compassionate and heartfelt attention.
Infertility can send you on an unanticipated roller coaster. You may feel like something in you is inherently flawed, which leads to issues around self-confidence and self-worth. If the cause of infertility lies with your partner, you may experience feelings of anger, resentment and frustration that you know aren’t fair, but lurk in the sidelines anyway.
Addressing these issues before and during fertility treatments can help couples navigate their path more smoothly, which is why increasing numbers of psychologists are specializing in fertility counseling.
Considering the Services of a Fertility Counselor? Follow This Checklist.
Fertility counselors play an important role in their clients’ lives as individual and couples’ therapists. They can assist clients in determining which treatments make the most sense for their lifestyles as well as deciding when enough is enough and it’s time to look at other parenting options.
If you are considering fertility treatments, or are struggling emotionally as you make your way through fertility treatments in progress, a fertility counselor can be one of your greatest allies. The key, however, is to choose a fertility counselor who is adequately experienced.
Here are some of the things you should look for when scouting out and interviewing prospective fertility counselors:
Post Graduate Degree in Mental Health. First and foremost, your prospective fertility counselor needs to have a post-graduate degree in mental health. The degree should be from an accredited program in an appropriate field such as psychology, psychiatry, marriage and family counseling, or social work. It is only within mental-health specific fields that a therapist will have adequate education and exposure to the complex emotional and historical issues that come into play with infertility issues.
A License to Practice. Each state has highly regulated licensing regulations for a mental health professional to practice. You should only work with fertility counselors who have an active license in your state. This ensures he/she has met strict educational guidelines, passed rigorous exams and completed a set number of hours of supervised individual and group counseling work. It is also a good indicator that your counselor is continuing his/her education since continued education and experience is typically required to keep a license current.
Specialized Education and Training Around Infertility. The subject of infertility is one that spans both the biological, emotional and mental realms. Therefore, a counselor who specializes in fertility counseling requires special education and experience regarding the human reproductive system, infertility, its causes and treatments. Their specialty education will cover the legal and ethical issues surrounding fertility treatments, the marital and relationship issues that can manifest over the subject of infertility, and sexual issues that can arise as the result of infertility.
Clinical Experience. Typically, a qualified fertility counselor will have at least one year of supervised clinical experience providing infertility counseling. Ideally, the supervisor is also a qualified and experienced fertility counselor. Continued Education. As mentioned above, continuing education ensures that the fertility counselor is dedicated to growing his or her own knowledge and skill bank. The field of fertility is changing rapidly and a qualified counselor will prioritize conferences, courses and seminars offered by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and similar professional organizations. This helps them keep their fingers on the pulse of both the medical and psychological issues that arise as the result of infertility and/or fertility treatment options.
Take the time to interview potential counselors thoroughly. Ask them about recent coursework or conferences they have attended. Check their references and make sure that both you and your partner feel 100% comfortable with your choice in counselors. Trust is the foundation for any relationship – and that includes the relationship with your fertility counselor.
Overlake OB/GYN is happy to provide referrals to qualified, experienced and compassionate fertility counselors in and around the Bellevue area. Contact us to obtain a referral or to discuss any concerns you have about your ability to conceive naturally.