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Written by Kathy Fountain LMHC, Board Certified Counselor
Here it is 2020 – not only the turning over of a new year, but a new decade!
At the recent December meeting of our Resolve support group, the women were lamenting the end of “another year of trying.” The faces of frustration were everywhere. Not being able to conceive can cause feelings of helplessness, anger and despair, and these feelings can deepen as time ticks by.
A new year, though, brings new opportunities and renewed chances for achieving the dream of parenthood. Something about the new year gives us a fresh look at old problems. For many of your clients, it’s the realization that there are more options for becoming a parent than they had considered, such as choosing a donor or surrogate.
Research has consistently found that the No. 1 reason patients drop out of treatment is not because their doctor was discouraging them, but because of emotional distress. It’s not surprising, then, to learn that women with infertility have the same levels of anxiety and depression as do women with cancer, heart disease and HIV. That’s a lot of stress!
As professionals, it’s important for us to be aware of the struggles of our clients, and to realize that they may be experiencing significant stress and they are either unaware of it, or perhaps are reluctant to mention it to us. We can be vigilant to their emotional needs and help them by suggesting that they focus more on self-care during this journey. Here are some suggestions you may pass along to help them stay sane and relaxed through this process:
*Social support: Studies have shown it is critical to our physical health. Urge them to find a support group like Resolve; confide in a close relative; find an on-line support group; socialize with close friends who “get it.”
*Mental health support: Usually a mental health professional is participating in your client’s journey. Encourage them to seek help from a fertility-focused professional who is trained to teach them tools for reducing anxiety and depression.
*The mind and body are connected. Suggest they find a meditation or yoga class. Subscribe to a meditation app or find a guided imagery download. When the body is relaxed, the mind will follow.
*Write it down! Suggest they start a journal where they can write down their thoughts and feelings; hopes and insecurities; dreams for the future. Downloading those feelings on paper is a great way to let go of their burden.
*Remind them that this is a finite, limited time in their lives and it won’t last forever. Encourage them to hold onto their dreams of becoming a parent, and stay hopeful that one day, somehow – with your help! – they will hold a baby in their arms.
Kathy Fountain is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of Florida (FL#7630) and National Board Certified Counselor specializing in fertility and infertility issues. Her practice includes counseling individuals and couples who are experiencing the stresses that accompany fertility issues.
Kathy understands that infertility is one of the most difficult things you will ever experience. It can affect your self-esteem and create a strain on your relationships with family, friends and even your partner. Even if you’ve never considered counseling before, Kathy can provide much needed support at this stressful time in your life. Ms. Fountain welcomes LGBT individuals and couples.