As an infertility psychotherapist, I treat individuals struggling throughout all stages of their pregnancy journeys. Many people are curious about what happens in therapy focused on this topic. So I’ve combined some of the most common questions I receive to demystify the treatment:
What happens in infertility-focused therapy?
While each treatment is unique, there are a few common themes in the work. First, we process the wide range of emotions you are experiencing, which helps you to understand, grieve, and cope with your feelings. Additionally, we examine the underlying expectations and pressures that influence your emotions. No two people respond the same way so we will explore ways of improving communication with your partner, family, and friends. When appropriate, we will introduce techniques to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.
I have plenty of friends who will listen to me vent, why do I need fertility therapy?
The therapeutic relationship is very different from a friendship. Sure, there may be similar levels of intimacy. Therapists are professionally trained to be objective, empathic, and encourage self-reflection. It is also a one-way relationship in that the therapist will not be sharing their emotions or giving advice. It is in this unbiased and non-judgmental space where deeper thinking can happen, and emotional blind spots can be uncovered.
How do I know if I’m ready for infertility therapy?
It has to be your choice to enter therapy. Just like your favorite exercise class, the effort you put into it determines the benefit you’ll get out of it. The decision to enter therapy can be hard. Ultimately you are taking steps to manage your mental wellness and decrease your stress, which can improve fertility success.
Am I crazy if I see a therapist?
People see therapists for so many different reasons. It is reasonable to seek treatment at this specific and challenging juncture in life. One of the most common reasons people engage in therapy is to help them during life-disrupting events, like cancer or divorce. Since struggling with infertility is just as stressful, it may be the optimal time to begin therapy. So if you ask me, pursuing help when you need it sounds like a pretty healthy behavior.
Just like your favorite exercise class, the effort you put into it determines the benefit you’ll get out of it.
What are the most common emotional struggles while trying to conceive?
As I mentioned above, everyone experience heir own unique experience. Many of my patients are women who have achieved success in other areas. Getting into the “right” college, finding a meaningful career, falling in love with a wonderful partner, etc. For the first time, they are faced with common emotional struggles and feel out of control (of both their lives and bodies). This can elicit feelings of sadness, anxiety, rage, loss, and depression among many other emotions. It also interferes with your interpersonal relationships, especially with your partner. You may feel like isolating or withdrawing instead of attending parties where you’ll be judged. Or, maybe even asked: “when are you going to give us a grandson.” There are so many “new normals” that even the adjustment to all of this change can feel like a traumatic experience.
Where do I look for a good infertility therapist?
The first place I recommend looking is at your existing social circles. Finding a therapist through someone who personally went through his or her own process can be a great first step. Second to a personal reference, I recommend the internet and online communities, like the FertileGirl. Their maternal wellness marketplace serves as an aggregate for vetted, well-trained clinicians. You can also look to your medical provider, OB-GYN, or reproductive endocrinologist to provide names of clinicians. Another great way to learn more about therapists is on www.psychologytoday.com. If it looks like a good fit, I suggest you give the therapist a call and ask questions to get a sense of their style. Infertility can be isolating and upsetting, and no one should have to suffer alone.