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Fertility Network UK
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Fertility counsellor & any v private people

Dear all,

I had my first session of counselling and have never accessed any form of counselling before, so didn't know what to expect.., hence checking if anyone here can shed any light on my experience.....

I guess counsellors have to follow certain "scripts " telling you about sharing information if you are a risk to yourself or others etc, and maybe taking about their counselling style- but during my one hour session, the lady freaked me out a bit; talking by about treatment options that are not yet being considered or explored and telling me about how some other clients feel and what other clients do (I was shocked about hearing about other clients/ no names were mentioned though)

I didn't cry or even open up, but I know I'll find this hard, I'm such a private person and apart from my partner no one knows, I've not told my best friends, family or anyone- as I know people's comfort and sorrow would cause me to absolutely crack and I'm scared to fully breakdown. I try to hold it together.

Long post/ turning into a blog (sorry!)

I guess my question is: if there is only one specialist fertility counsellor I can be referred to, should to try a second session or is talking about treatment options that are not current being considered possibly more detrimental for me?

Second question is: is there any one on this forum who hasn't shared their fertility struggles with anyone other than their partner? I'm wondering how sustainable this is? I really don't want my family or friends to know (hence thinking counselling was a good idea, as I KNOW I need emotional support)

Thanks in advance for any replies, tips, etc


8 Replies

I'm sorry I can't help with the counselling as not had any fertility counselling. I have had counselling in the past for different issues and never found it particularly useful.

Could you not consider telling a close friend or family member. Our parents and a couple of close friends know and it just relieves some of the pressure with only the two of you knowing. I didn't want to tell anyone at first but found it easier than making constant excuses why we couldn't commit to any plans or why we weren't drinking. I also told my boss which was invaluable since I had a complete emotional meltdown at work last week. I'm on my first cycle and it is a huge amount of pressure for two people to experience alone. Sometimes you fall out too and you feel very alone when nobody else knows. I know everyone is different and I dread having to tell people if it doesn't work but I also know if I say I don't want to talk about it they will respect that.

I couldn't have got through this and all my appointments without the support of my manager at work too x

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The best option is to change your counselor.

But in your case it`d be preferable to to try a second session.

Or even consult online (for example here ivf.ca/forums/forum/31-expe...


It might be worth trying a second session and see how that goes? alternatively have you considered seeing a counsellor who doesn't specialise in fertility?

I'm seeking counselling as although I'm quite open about our struggle with family and friends (it is good to talk and let people know who you are feeling) I'm struggling to cope at the moment and feel like I need to talk to somebody completely neutral. I lost my Dad suddenly before Christmas, at the moment I'm trying to come to terms with the loss of him as well as the disappointment of trying for a baby with no success. I've had an initial telephone consultation with my local counselling service and they asked me a lot of questions about how I was feeling, was I at risk of harm or harm to others etc - I think this is just a standard process they do to try and ascertain exactly what your feeling. I also work in the NHS and I'm seeking support through the staff service they provide.

Maybe speaking to a non-fertility counsellor might help? I feel my issues are to do with anxiety and the fear of never being able to have a baby which I think any qualified individual can help me deal with - it's my mindset that needs to change more than anything x


Like everyone I would definitely try a second session but if they're still not the right person for you I would look elsewhere.

I'm a really private person and got counselling a few years ago, maybe 3. It was totally ineffective; the lady told me she didn't want kids, it was the best decision she ever made, she had such a good life, blah blah blah. She was supposed to be an infertility counsellor. Maybe hearing this would work for some people but it 100% didn't work for me.

I recently started counselling again t(hrough the NHS this time) for the miscarriages and she's brilliant. Wish I had went to her in the first place.

She's helped me start opening up a bit more to my nearest and dearest about my journey.

I would be honest with your counsellor in the next session and tell them how you felt in your first session.


I'm also a very private person and I shared our fertility treatment with very few people. It's a very personal choice.

I did see a counsellor though and she was excellent. I think you want someone to speak to you about your feelings rather than your treatment options. It was a while ago but I think my counsellor treated me in the same way she would conduct grief counselling. She really 'got it'. She also suggested some good coping strategies. I would suggest a second session with this counsellor and if it's still not working try someone else. Trust is so important! x


I so agree with this! The fertility counsellor at my clinic is ok but it feels like part of her role is to raise issues people may not have thought of and to signpost stuff. Not that helpful for the emotional stuff really. I'm now seeing a generic counsellor through work and it's helping me with the feelings I have of being out of control of my life, which have been caused mainly by the infertility. A much better experience.

My husband and I both found telling people to be much easier than keeping it private, but as you say, it's a personal choice.


I’m so glad it’s not just me who has had this experience! I was going to start a new topic asking the question “what should you expect at fertility counselling” then I came across your post. Is it just me or are fertility counsellors supppsed to be providing emotional support? In fact I think I will start a new topic because maybe I had it wrong all along and their job is to provide practical advice and maybe someone in the know will be able to answer....

Meanwhile, I totally sympathise with you and hope that since you wrote that you have now found some way of finding what you need xxx


Dear Leesara

My hope is you can always ask to be referred to another counsellor, if there is only one at your clinic you can contact BICA bica.net/holding.php or the National Fertility Society: nationalfertilitysociety.co... to find a specialist fertility counsellor.

Counsellors don't have to follow scripts - we do however have certain factual themes that have to be included when providing implications counselling, implications counselling is most often accessed for donor conception, donating eggs, sperm or embryos, but it can also be requested around treatment, such as egg freezing or IVF. However that is usually quite separate to support counselling, which would hopefully be all about you. My hope is counsellors do explain the difference as we can talk a lot (!) during implications counselling and be much quieter in support appointments.

Counselling around difficult emotions is often CBT focussed, I believe this can sometimes be unhelpful if you're thinking about assisted conception or fertility in general. It's appropriate with fertility 'stuff' to have big thoughts and feelings (highs, in addition to lows!) it is likened to a rollercoaster often, so CBT may suggest challenging big thoughts and feelings, which can suggest we're not doing challenging well enough if we are still feeling overwhelmed, hence suggesting specialist fertility counsellors, rather than generic. And if there's not a specialist fertility counsellor, bereavement counsellors do get grief and loss, infertility is acknowledged as a disenfranchised grief, though often there are actual losses sadly too.

You are welcome to get in touch if I can be of further help.

Very warm wishes


Tracey Sainsbury

Volunteer Counsellor

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