How CFIR’s Fertility Counselling Service Can Help You

There are many reasons why an individual or couple may choose to seek support related to fertility.

The Fertility Counselling Service is just one of 18 integrative treatment services offered through Centre for Interpersonal Relationships. A highly trained mental health professional in CFIR’s Fertility Counselling Treatment Service can support you and/or your loved one with fertility-related concerns or to prepare for assisted reproductive procedures. The service provides psychosocial support to women and men dealing with including:

– difficulties conceiving
– managing assisted reproduction
– miscarriage
– pregnancy termination
– prenatal & perinatal care;
– postpartum depression
– selective reduction
– stillbirth, and 
– traumatic birthing experiences

Learn more via one or more of the posts below or click here for an overview of the Fertility Counselling Treatment Service: 

Services offered through CFIR are covered by most private extended insurance plans as well as Medavie/BlueCross (RCMP, Veterans Affairs, Canadian Armed Forces) and CUPE. We also offer accessible low fee psychological treatment & assessment services. Contact us today to find out more.

Support for Perinatal Issues (including traumatic birthing experiences & stillbirth)

by: Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C.Psych.

The period prior to and during birth can create significant distress for women. Women can experience high degrees of anxiety in the period just prior to the birth of a child, whether or not a low- or high-risk pregnancy is anticipated. Learning how to cope with the distressing thoughts and emotional reactions associated with anxiety may alleviate some of these symptoms. 

During the birthing experience, some women will have frightening experiences (e.g., surgical complications, neglect or ill-treatment during or after delivery, or physical trauma as a result of a difficult delivery). Women experiencing traumatic births may feel isolated and dismissed when sharing their fearful or painful experiences. They can feel hopeless about finding others to connect to regarding what has transpired. These types of experiences can result in post-traumatic stress in the form of recurring images, flashbacks, and painful emotional memories of what transpired during their delivery. These reactions to the event need to be processed fully in order to heal.

Finally, the emotional impact of loss of a child during birth can have a devastating impact on both partners. These effects are further complicated by the post-partum physical status of the woman. Dealing with intense grief associated with the loss of a child is a difficult process for both partners. A partner’s view of him/herself, the relationship, and the future may be altered. The loss can also have an impact on emotional and physical closeness and result in relationship deterioration.

Psychologists and clinicians at CFIR are skilled in addressing the post-traumatic stress associated with painful or difficult birthing experiences. We support individuals and couples in coping with the grief associated with the loss of a child. We assist individuals and couples to deal with tragic loss through education, emotional support, and processing of such traumatic experiences. We help you find a way forward during this difficult time.

Read more about our Fertility Counselling Treatment Service.

Helping You with Prenatal Care

by: Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C.Psych.

Maintaining physical and emotional well-being during pregnancy and while preparing for birth is important. Numerous medical tests, nutritional issues, home preparations for the newborn, and other life adjustments are required. Couple partners can sometimes become anxious about managing these changes, overwhelmed by the adjustments required, and struggle to work effectively as a team to manage medical, nutritional, and lifestyle alterations associated with pregnancy. There is a multitude of tasks to attend to in preparation for birth and a newborn. For some individuals and couples, this transition can be a significant source of distress.

If pregnancy complications occur, partners can experience intense negative emotions and anxiety. Some partners have difficulties supporting each other as they try to make sense of the available medical information, and strain in the relationship may emerge at this time.

Psychologists and clinicians at CFIR are well-educated about the medical, nutritional, and lifestyle alterations that are typically faced during pregnancy. We support self and partner care throughout pregnancy and work to create a solid relationship between partners during this period.

Read more about our Fertility Counselling Treatment Service.

You Don’t Need to Be Alone Through Pregnancy Termination

by: Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C. Psych.

The decision to end a pregnancy can come about for many reasons (e.g., medical factors, interpersonal or sexual trauma, not feeling ready or having the desire to engage in parenthood). For some individuals, considering whether or not to end a pregnancy may come with many emotions including confusion, guilt, shame, or grief. Some individuals may have difficulties coming to terms with perceived social or family pressures. In addition, the medical process of terminating a pregnancy can be physically and emotionally difficult for some women.

This distress can add to the layers of emotional distress already experienced as a result of the decision to terminate the pregnancy. At times, difficult or conflicting emotions may not surface until after the termination has occurred. Accessing professional support can be an important means to fully process the complex feelings related to a pregnancy termination.

Psychologists and clinicians at CFIR are committed to providing a safe therapeutic environment wherein each individual is respected and can feel free to fully discuss all aspects of their decision to end a pregnancy. The clinicians provide emotional support and resources to clients facing such decisions, and help them to navigate through the complex thoughts and feelings they may experience.

Read more about our Fertility Counselling Treatment Service.

Support in The Aftermath of a Miscarriage

Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C.Psych.

Pregnancy loss can be associated with a significant amount of emotional distress for a woman and her partner. Individuals may feel alone, frightened, angry, sad, grief-stricken, guilty, and shameful as a result of such an experience. The physical recovery process may occur more quickly than the time it takes to heal emotionally from a miscarriage. The loss can further negatively affect communication and intimacy in your relationship. Sexual issues may emerge due to complex feelings about the possibility of conceiving again. Working through these challenging feelings is important for healing and moving forward.

Supporting couple partners to comfort and support each other during this time is essential to emotional recovery and sustaining a strong relationship in the aftermath of loss. Moments of loss activate a deep need within us to have close emotional and physical proximity to our loved ones. We promote partners to develop closer relationships to journey through these difficult emotional experiences together. 

Psychologists and clinicians at CFIR provide a compassionate and caring therapeutic relationship to support women, men, and couples to come to terms with the inner emotional reactions and meanings that can emerge during these moments of loss.

Read more about our Fertility Counselling Treatment Service.

How We Help You Prepare for Fertility Treatments

by: Dr. Lila Z.Hakim, C.Psych.

Individuals and couples who are pursuing assisted fertility treatments experience unique challenges. The numerous considerations associated with assisted reproduction can be overwhelming. Preparing for medical procedures can also create challenges in terms of sifting through complex information, making decisions, and altering life and work schedules to facilitate treatments. Medical procedures may also be a source of distress, and can contribute to high levels of stress and anxiety. Research affirms that individuals undergoing this process experience stress and distress at levels similar to those of other serious medical conditions. These circumstances can undermine the individual’s and couple’s emotional and physical health, which also impacts the fertility treatment process.

For individuals and couples considering assisted reproduction, counselling prior to engaging in fertility treatments provides an important source of information and support to fully prepare for the process. Research has shown that many individuals and couples find fertility counselling prior to treatment to be important and helpful, even if they did not expect it to be beforehand. Whether the choice to pursue medically-assisted reproduction is related to personal or partner infertility, a same-sex relationship, or a choice to become a single parent, fertility counselling can greatly assist in preparing for forthcoming procedures and potential stressors associated with them (e.g., IUI or IVF). In the case of third-party reproduction (e.g., Donor Sperm or Egg, Surrogacy), there are many considerations to think through beforehand, such as the choice of donor or surrogate and disclosure to children in the future. 

During the course of fertility treatments, decisions about whether to continue or discontinue can also be distressing. There may be a sense of loss or grief following unsuccessful cycles. We work to assist individuals and couples in managing the course of treatment and related decisions, and openly discuss potential alternatives as individuals or couples set out to explore other ways of becoming parents.

To support you through this process, psychologists and clinicians at CFIR provide comprehensive counselling in preparation for fertility treatments in accordance with established counselling guidelines. We prepare reports and communicate with fertility clinics to assure the continuity of your care. We are also familiar with assisted reproduction and alternative options and are in a good position to support individuals and couples to prepare for and manage their fertility treatment. We also help partners cope with the intense emotional reactions and deeper meanings associated with unsuccessful fertility treatment cycles. Psychologists and clinicians at CFIR also work to improve our clients’ coping efforts and strengthen their resilience.

Read more about our Fertility Counselling Treatment Service.

How We Support You Through A Fertility-Related Distress

by: Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C.Psych.

Dealing with fertility-related problems can be extremely distressing for individuals and couples. Anxiety, depression, fears, doubts, guilt, shame, and despair may be experienced when there are biological barriers to conception. The stress of a fertility problem can affect one’s sense of emotional and sexual intimacy in relationships. Sometimes a negative self-concept and a sense of failure and anger can spill over into other areas of life, exacerbating couple conflicts and leaving partners feeling emotionally distressed. Partners may become emotionally disconnected, which deepens the sense of loneliness, isolation, and helplessness that can already be experienced as a result of dealing with a fertility issue. The stress associated with fertility-related issues can undermine an individual’s and couple’s emotional health, which can result in anxiety and depression, and negatively affect intimacy and sexual interactions in the relationship. 

Exploration of the deeper meanings associated with infertility or fertility is also an important aspect of the healing process. With couples, reconnecting emotionally can help to counteract feelings of isolation and loneliness. Strengthening the couple relationship ensures that each partner can turn to the other for support in moments of vulnerability to lessen distress and restore a sense of calm and comfort in their lives. Partners become a stronger team in facing fertility challenges and the difficult emotional experiences involved. 

Psychologists and clinicians at CFIR support individuals and couples dealing with fertility-related issues in coping and dealing with the negative thoughts, distressing feelings, and emotional reactions, and any relationship issues that may have emerged as a result of fertility problems. We also provide clients with education to deal with infertility so they are empowered throughout this journey.

Psychologists and clinicians at CFIR are active in research in the area of fertility. We have published scientific articles in the area of fertility counselling and are involved in ongoing research in this area.

Read more about our Fertility Counselling Treatment Service.

Helping You To Cope With Postpartum Depression

by: Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C. Psych.

Upon birth, many couples will require some time to get used to their new home circumstances. Learning how to create and adapt to sleep and feeding schedules that suit the reality of the couple can be challenging. Numerous issues related to sleep and feeding emerge that can create distress, particularly in the context of a lack of sleep and the novelty of figuring out and managing the newborn’s needs. The relationship will transition during this period to adjust to these new circumstances. 

For some women, this period becomes complicated by depression caused by numerous physical and psychological factors, including a growing sense of isolation, emotional residues of birthing problems, sleep difficulties, and a change in sense of self and identity. Feelings of depression during this period may also be accompanied by self-criticalness and identity challenges that can then increasingly spiral into hopelessness and despair. Partners may also struggle and find themselves slipping into states of anxiety and depression. They may experience similar challenges during this transition period. 

Psychologists and clinicians at CFIR are able to diagnose and guide the treatment of postpartum depression. We provide support individuals and couples to adjust to their initial challenges upon return to home with their newborn. We help individuals and couples establish solid networks of physical and emotional care and support to ensure that isolation is reduced. We support new parents by providing them with resources to connect to the outside community. We also provide specific psychological treatment for postpartum depression, involving both individual and couple sessions to support women to emerge from the cascading negative emotions and biological turmoil that may occur during this period.

Read more about our Fertility Counselling Treatment Service.

CFIR OTTAWA is moving to its new home JULY 4TH, 2022. Click here for more details.