Treating Mind & Body During Fertility Treatment
When you research fertility treatment, it doesn't take long to come across the words "emotional roller coaster." There is no shortage of information - whether it be anecdotes from acquaintances or articles on the web - that tells you that treatment can be "stressful" and "isolating" and that hormone therapies can make you feel "crazy."
What you don't hear often enough is that fertility treatment can and should be positive, hopeful, life affirming and exciting. Just being properly diagnosed is a major step toward fulfilling your dreams of parenthood and family.
There are many, many individuals and couples that cope with the demands of treatment effectively, that find great meaning in sharing their experiences with other patients and that, despite setbacks or unforeseen complications, complete their treatment with a sense of perspective that makes the joy of parenthood even sweeter.
Shady Grove Fertility believes that all patients can have that positive experience when they are treated as a whole person - mind, body and spirit - and supported in the ways that make the most difference for them. Few programs offer the extent of support resources that Shady Grove Fertility makes available, with a staff of highly trained social workers and psychologists who specialize in infertility counseling and experienced practitioners in complementary medicine.
Taking advantage of these offerings and finding the kind of support that works best for you can have a tremendous impact on the quality of your treatment experience.
Multiple Options for Treating the Whole Patient
From our very beginnings in 1991, our philosophy has been to approach fertility treatment as both a physical and emotional journey. Integrating psychological support services into a fertility practice was cutting edge at the time, and we have worked hard to remain leaders in this area.
Over the years, we have expanded and diversified our offerings, leading trends by developing mind-body programs, featuring a complementary medicine center in our Rockville office, and developing our online communities long before others. In 2010, we opened a new patient call center to give patients a place to have all of their questions answered from the very beginning of their journey.
At Shady Grove Fertility, we know that there are many ways that people can improve their outlook, gain support and find inspiration to overcome infertility challenges. That's why we continue to build and expand a variety of programs to meet the individual needs of patients.
Learning more about what's offered at Shady Grove Fertility here and on our website can help you decide what might work best for you.
In 2009, Shady Grove Fertility started a Facebook page where we posted educational and inspirational items of interest to our community. Since then, the page has taken off, becoming a vibrant and active community of nearly 9,000 people supporting one another through treatment – both online and off. Many community members have become friends and have even banded together to participate in infertility activities such as dinners, baby showers and fundraising for the Cade Foundation’s Annual Race for the Family.
The ease of accessing this supportive community and the ability to participate on your own schedule and timeframe makes it an ideal complement to other offerings.
Infertility Support Groups Offered in Local Offices
Monthly support groups are offered on a number of topics from the General Infertility Support Group to the Pregnancy Loss Support Group to the Donor Egg Recipient Support Group. These free sessions, which are run by counselors, are open discussions where patients can share what's on their minds related to their treatment. They offer a chance to connect with other patients and hear what has worked for them.
“People are welcome to just come and listen. No one is pressured to speak or share their own experiences,” points out Tara Simpson, PsyD, a psychologist at Shady Grove Fertility.
Many patients find it reassuring to be among others facing the same challenges. As one patient put it: “It is so comforting coming to this group where I feel completely understood. It is like traveling to a foreign country and arriving at a place where you all speak the same language.”
Monthly Discussion Groups Led by Experts
Discussion Groups, which also take place on a monthly basis, are similar to support groups but offer a more specific agenda. Each of these groups is led by an expert speaker who provides information and answers questions about a variety of fertility-related topics.
"People often find these presentation-style groups less intimidating than say, a general support group experience, and they provide a great opportunity to have your specific questions answered by an expert," says Erica Mindes, PhD, a psychologist at Shady Grove Fertility.
Typical discussion topics may include: specific infertility diagnoses, coping with pregnancy loss, adoption, and talking with children about their origins. February's discussion group is titled: Transitioning to the Next Step: From IVF to Donor Egg Discussion Group.
Attendance at both support and discussion groups is confidential and most are free to patients. Call ahead to register. Topics, locations and contact information can be found at www.shadygrovefertility.com/calendar.
Popular Mind-Body Skills Workshop Returns
One of the most popular and effective offerings of the Support Services staff is the Mind-Body Skills Workshop. This workshop teaches concrete techniques and strategies for stress management as well as providing time for discussion and support to help in coping and "taking care of yourself."
One past participant said, "I feel that I learned things that I can use throughout my life to help me with stressful situations.” Another added, “The best thing I am taking from this experience is the feeling that I have the knowledge and power to participate in this process...and affect the outcome in a very real and positive way.”
The next workshop, which will be run by Carol Miller, LCSW-C, takes place in the Rockville office on the evening of Friday, February 3rd and continues the following morning, Saturday, February 4th. The fee for this workshop is $180 per person and may be covered by insurance (statements will be provided). Individuals as well as couples are encouraged to attend. For more information and/or to register, contact Carol at email@example.com or 520-477-2750.
Individual and Couples Sessions
Counseling sessions for individuals and couples offer a more personalized experience where coping strategies can be tailored more closely to a patient's needs. These sessions provide a safe and confidential space where you can talk about aspects of your experience you may feel uncomfortable sharing in a group setting.
Couples often have different opinions or perspectives on treatment that can cause friction within their relationship or make it more difficult to make treatment decisions. Couples sessions can help partners work through these differences as well as helping them learn to communicate better with each other and with family and friends.
All of our mental health professionals have extensive training and knowledge about all aspects of infertility counseling and can provide excellent support to any individual or couple. However, you may request a session with a particular staff member that has a special area of interest that appeals to you. You can read more about the backgrounds and interests of the support staff at www.shadygrovefertility.com/support_staff.
Counseling sessions are available at most of the Shady Grove Fertility offices. While the Psychological Support Services team does not participate with health insurance, they provide statements that can be submitted by the patient for reimbursement. To schedule a counseling session with one of our staff, call Sharon Covington at 301-279-9030.
Complementary Medicine When You Need It
Shady Grove Fertility was one of the first fertility centers in the U.S. to integrate complementary medicine services, including acupuncture, yoga and massage therapy, to help patients cope with the emotional aspects of infertility.
To offer these services, we partnered with Pulling Down the Moon, a holistic treatment center specializing in complementary therapy services. Pulling Down the Moon works in partnership with your Shady Grove Fertility physician. Their services do not replace advanced reproductive technology, but rather support both patient and health care provider during treatment. Pulling Down the Moon's experienced holistic practitioners specialize in fertility therapies and have been trained by medical infertility specialists to help them blend their specialties with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Pulling Down the Moon is located on the second floor of Shady Grove Fertility's Rockville Office. For those interested in yoga, Pulling Down the Moon is hosting a six-week Yoga for Fertility program in Washington, DC beginning on February 1. To learn more about services provided by Pulling Down the Moon, please call 301-610-7755 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting the Most from Treatment
Shady Grove Fertility offers these diverse support services in order to fulfill our commitment to holistic care and to serving the diverse needs of our patients. Sharon Covington, LCSW-C, Shady Grove Fertility's Director of Psychological Support Services says, "Psychological support is an integral part of holistic care. We are here to support your spirit as well as treat your medical condition."
She notes that patients often say they wish they had known about all the kinds of support available to them and had started accessing them sooner in their treatment. “We have so many wonderful services. People don’t have to wait until they are in a crisis to seek out support. My best advice is to get support early on and try different things until you find what works best for you."
Being attentive to the emotional as well as the physical aspects of your fertility journey from the very beginning is the best way to ensure a positive and hopeful treatment experience.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please speak with one of our friendly New Patient Liaisons by calling 888-761-1967.