Counsellor Deborah Clarke shares how she could help with the emotional issues involved for those considering or going through IVF
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be of a great help at all stages of the IVF process.
I have worked with couples, and single people, to help them work through the issue of whether IVF is a route that they want to take or not.
My sessions are designed to provide a safe place where you can air your concerns, whether it is as a couple so that you can come to the best decision for you together, or as an individual considering having sperm donation, or whether you are doing this on your own or as a gay couple.
There can then be many emotional issues that come up for both the individual and also for the couple as they embark on the IVF treatment itself. I have worked with couples going through IVF and have seen the strain it can put on their relationship. So the CBT works to help you with that, as well as provide emotional support for all.
I provide stress-management techniques to help you keep the stress levels down as you go through the IVF process. The focus is also on helping you best manage the affect on mood and wellbeing of the hormone injections involved.
For the man, his concerns can often be overlooked. He may feel helpless, hopeless, and shut out of this important process that his partner is going through. My sessions can help provide a space where he can express such fears and concerns, so he is supported too.
I am very clear about the boundaries of what I can offer, and can provide information about other practitioners to refer you on to, for example for acupuncture.
Support at different stages
At the stage of the egg retrieval and then implantation, this time can often cause anxiety around whether the IVF has worked, so we work with dealing with that.
If it has been successful, then the focus then is on how to keep your mental health well to help ensure a positive and successful pregnancy. For example, I have seen people who have then become very anxious about the concept of being a good enough parent. Often people have such perfectionist ideas, which are not possible to achieve. Instead, it is about helping you to see the value of doing the best you can and not give yourself a hard time if you don’t achieve certain things as a parent.
If the IVF has not been successful, it is then about how to cope with the disappointment, and the grief around that. My sessions provide a place where you can express your frustrations, and sadness caused by this, as well as to help you decide on the best way forward for you from here.
Unique to you
The sessions are unique to you and your needs – they provide a safe place where you can come and have some conversations, one-off, periodically, or over a period of time, whatever is best for you.
The aim is also to provide you with an emphatic space, to help you move towards taking better care of yourselves during what for many can be a tough time.