I have commented to my patients that although sex and drivers education are common subjects taught in high schools these days, not only is death education not a covered subject but rather, something the American public generally steers clear of. As a result, in times of great personal distress an individual experiencing loss often feels alone, isolated, and misunderstood. Grief counseling is an area I have been addressing since beginning clinical practice over 25 years ago. My reproductive specialty expertise addresses loss associated with miscarriage, fetal demise and death related to childbirth, genetic anomalies, and elective terminations. As a licensed marriage and family counselor, I work with individuals experience loss from other vantage points. Divorce, even when viewed as a good choice, often comes with sadness and mixed emotions. Likewise, caregivers losing a spouse or parent will go through the mourning process despite what may be a blessed ending. All of these events require a period of mourning and a coming to terms with the absence of the loved one (including pets!). Patience, understanding, and acceptance are a necessary goal of treatment.
In terms of the pain and suffering, it has been said that infertility runs a close second to the distress of cancer. Treating the emotions associated with the fertility process has been a specialty of Women’s Health Counseling & Psychotherapy for only 25 years. Recognizing the importance of the mind-body connection, working in conjunction with the physical demands of the work-up, particularly when Assisted Reproductive Techniques are involved is an essential aspect of infertility counseling. Providing the coping tools to feel strengthened during a cycle and weather the disappointments and stresses of procedures, holidays, and family/friend/work related issues is a primary goal of treatment. Additionally, high risk pregnancy, poor genetic outcomes, fetal loss are unfortunate, but, common occurrences which benefit from professional guidance. I am a professional volunteer for RESOLVE of New Jersey (www.resolvenj.org) and the American Fertility Association (www.afa.org) and have utilized my expertise as a speaker, article writer, and group leader.
Prenatal and Postpartum Depression
What was expected to be a period of calm and delight can turn into a time suffused with anxiety, obsessive worry, and depression. With 75-80% of all new mothers experiencing the “blues,” it is not unusual for this circumstance to deepen into feelings that just won’t let go. Factors for this reaction beyond a day or two of the blues are complicated. Counseling is an important tool for reducing and eliminating this distress. Interventions are designed to assess the family situation and implement strategies to regain mental and physical health rapidly and effectively. In addition to psychological psychotherapy, I am a former Board Member of Depression After Delivery, Inc. and a current Board Member of Postpartum Support International (www.postpartum.net). I am a regular facilitator on PSI’s “Chat with an Expert” line available every Wednesday. I work adjunctively with obstetricians/gynecologists and psychiatrists to provide the most comprehensive treatment possible during this difficult period.