It’s well recognised that having fertility problems can be a difficult emotional experience for an individual or a couple. Going through fertility investigations and treatment can bring some disruption to your daily life and can also bring uncertainties. You may feel as though your life is on hold, making planning for the future difficult. Sometimes you may feel as though you can’t confide in others or you may feel that others don’t fully understand what you are going through, perhaps those around you don’t understand how this can affect your day to day life.
The experience of fertility problems is unique and is often described as an emotional rollercoaster. Powerful feelings can emerge such as disbelief, anger, sadness, envy, guilt, anxiety, isolation, a sense of worthlessness and perhaps fear for the future.
We aim to support you through this time. Our counsellor is here so that you can talk about your thoughts and feelings in a safe, confidential and supportive place.
Counselling provides an opportunity to explore any emotional difficulties, which you may experience. It allows you an opportunity to explore and try to make sense of any difficulties you may have, helping you to cope, make choices and change some aspects of your situation to make it feel more manageable. It doesn’t involve giving advice or direction to take a particular course of action, however at times it may involve providing information. You may want to talk through your options, prepare for treatment or have support before, during or after any treatment.
You can have counselling sessions with your partner or individually. There are different types of counselling available, depending on your needs.
For those who are considering treatment using donor eggs, sperm or embryos, it is an HFEA requirement to meet with the counsellor to look at the implications of such treatment both in the short and longer term for both the adults and for any children who may be born.
For those considering becoming a donor either to help known recipients or as an altruistic donor, it is also an HFEA requirement to meet with the counsellor to explore the implications of donation.
There is also a requirement to attend implications counselling if you are considering any surrogacy arrangements or fertility preservation.
This is a confidential and supportive service, which can help you make decisions for your own future. It can also help reduce some of the concerns and any difficult feelings which may arise.
Implications counselling is therefore routinely offered as part of the treatment process. The aim is to help you make an informed decision about your treatment, prior to you deciding how to proceed. You will be referred by a member of staff to the counselling service prior to signing consent forms and moving forward to treatment.
Implications counselling therefore provides an emotionally safe place in which to reflect on and understand your treatment, the variety of issues which may affect you and the lasting implications for you and those close to you, both now and in the future. It takes into account the welfare and needs of any future child. It allows an opportunity to anticipate and plan for this conception and family formation.
Therapeutic and Support Counselling
Therapeutic and support counselling offers an opportunity to talk about how you are feeling, to explore the emotional and psychological impact of your difficulties and to look at different coping strategies, which may help during what can be a very stressful time.
The counselling can help you to make changes and to look at both the short and long-term consequences of fertility problems and treatment. You may find that you need support at different stages of treatment. You can therefore access therapeutic or support counselling at any time before, during, or after treatment.
The counsellor follows regulatory guidelines set out by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA). Information you disclose is confidential and will not be shared with any other member of the ACU team, unless what is shared causes concern about harm to yourself, others around you, or to the welfare of the future child. In this instance, the counsellor will talk to you first, and find the best way forward.
The BACP and BICA require that all counsellors are independently supervised, outside counselling sessions. As such, within a confidential setting, they may anonymously share some information with their supervisor as part of their own continuing professional development.
Once you have been referred to the unit and been accepted as a patient (including being on the waiting list), you can ask to be referred to the counsellor by any member of the ACU team or you can directly refer yourself.
The counselling service is independent and confidential. There is no payment for counselling. You may only need one counselling session or you may decide along with the counsellor that further sessions would be helpful.
The counselling is available either face-to-face, by telephone or by using the secure NHS video-conference service Attend Anywhere.
The sessions usually last an hour, unless the counsellor arranges otherwise. If you are unable to attend an appointment for any reason, we would appreciate at least 24 hours notice.
To arrange an appointment contact our secretaries: