Psychological Support for Patients
Seeing a counsellor one-on-one can help you address issues that are specific to you and your journey.
Counselling for individuals and couples can help you cope with medical treatments and uncertain outcomes, as well as helping you deal with family, friends, work and the fertile world.
Our counsellors have tertiary qualifications in Psychology or Social Work. They have considerable experience and skills, with specialised knowledge in the fields of infertility and reproductive grief and loss.
Our support counselling services assist our patients through psychological guidance and care, all within an independent and confidential framework.
Impacts of Fertility Treatment
Infertility is a medical condition that affects one in six couples. It can affect every part of a person or couple's life. It may challenge the way you feel about yourself, your relationship with others, your work and your outlook on life.
Few situations in life are as demanding and overwhelming as fertility treatment. However, despite the growing number of people needing medical intervention to conceive, it can be a time of extreme isolation.
Patients often express a sense of loss of control over their lives - feeling as if they are on an emotional roller coaster. Often these feelings are expressed as anxiety, grief, frustration and anger.
We strongly believe in caring for your emotional health as well as your physical wellbeing. That's why at Monash IVF, our patients receive an hour of free one-on-one counselling per treatment cycle.
Benefits of Counselling
At Monash IVF, we understand that positive social connections are essential for good mental health. They can help you cope in times of stress - which is commonly experienced during fertility treatment.Our counselling team assists patients by providing psychological guidance and care in an independent and confidential framework. The support and skills they provide patients assists with:
- General support during treatment
- Assistance in managing partner and family pressure
- Grief and loss
- Relationship counselling
- Sexual health
- Impact of infertility on masculinity or femininity
- Strategies for surviving the 'two-week wait'
- Coping with others' pregnancies
- Normalising feelings and reducing isolation
- Managing anxiety and depression
- Stress management
- Coming to terms with ceasing treatment
- Referrals to appropriate services
Emotional Health During COVID-19
As the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) branches across the Australian and global community, it is only natural that the level of anxiety within us all also increases. The declaration of a global pandemic can trigger feelings of worry and unease; however, it’s important that we learn to manage our stress before it turns to more severe anxiety and panic. The need to physically distance ourselves from others is an important measure to help stem the wave of infection. Unfortunately, this heightens our sense of isolation. Now more than ever, then, it’s important that we maintain good social networks using available methods of communication. This can be as simple as phoning a friend, using videoconferencing technology to check in with a family member, or spending quality time with the people you live with. And if your networks are not positive ones, we encourage you to seek support elsewhere.
There are several useful strategies which can help both adults and children cope with the stress and/or anxiety experienced as a result of COVID-19. The below tips come from the Australian Psychological Society:
- Constant information from mainstream coverage or social media about the Coronavirus can keep us in a heightened state of anxiety. Try to limit related media exposure and instead seek out factual information from reliable sources such as the Australian Government's health alert or other trusted organisations such as the World Health Organisation.
- Keep things in perspective. When we are stressed, it is easy to see things as worse than they really are. Rather than imagining the worst-case scenario and worrying about it, ask yourself 'Am I getting ahead of myself, assuming something bad will happen when I really don’t know the outcome' and 'Am I underestimating my ability to cope?' Sometimes thinking about how you would cope, even if the worst were to happen, can help you put things into perspective.
Being proactive by following basic hygiene principles can keep your anxiety at bay. The World Health Organisation recommends a number of protective measures against the coronavirus, including to:
- wash your hands frequently
- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- stay at home if you begin to feel unwell until you fully recover
- seek medical care early if you have a fever, cough or experience breathing difficulties
To help encourage a positive frame of mind, it is important to look after yourself. Everybody practises self-care differently with some examples including:
- maintaining good social connections and communicating openly with family and friends
- making time for activities and hobbies you enjoy
- keeping up a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting quality sleep and avoiding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to cope with stress
- practising relaxation, meditation and mindfulness to give your body a chance to settle and readjust to a calm state
Tips for Self-Care During Social Isolation
To help control the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) across the Australian and global community, all Australians have been asked to practise social distancing. Some people are required to self-isolate, while others may choose to do so. Understandably, the challenges associated with social distancing and self-isolation - including separation from loved ones, loss of freedom and reduced income - are leading some people to experience feelings of anxiety, boredom, frustration and fear. Maintaining positive mental health is one of the keys to staying emotionally strong during social isolation. There are several useful strategies which can help both adults and children stay mentally positive while in isolation. The below tips come from the Australian Psychological Society:
Remind yourself that this period of self-isolation is temporary. Think of the benefits of self-isolation to the wider society, including slowing the spread of the virus and protecting those most vulnerable in your community.
Positive social connections are essential for our mental health and can help us cope in times of stress.
At times, people will be required to self-isolate with others in their household. While this will provide opportunities for social connections, living with someone 24/7 with little or no time away from each other may give rise to arguments and/or tension. There are a number of things you can do to limit conflict with those you are isolated with, including:
- creating a roster to help you distribute chores equally and fairly
- identifying and taking part in activities you like doing together such as movies, board games, jigsaws, gardening
- sharing positive emotions and experiences, rather than anger, frustration and disappointment
- communicating about your worries and concerns, and seeking support from one another
- maintaining your sense of fun and positive humour
- remaining respectful of each other in times of conflict - walk away and take time to calm yourselves, returning to the discussion later and repairing any hurt caused
Not overusing social media as you are likely to be exposed to negative news and/or get drawn into 'doomsday' discussions. Try instead to keep your mind busy with activities you enjoy such as reading, watching movies, exercising and even spring cleaning the house.
While in isolation it is beneficial to plan out your days to restore a sense of purpose, structure and normality to your daily life. Schedule tasks such as cooking and laundry, as well as activities you enjoy to help you stick to your routine. Structuring activities around mealtimes and bedtime can also help you keep to your schedule while ensuring you eat regularly and get enough sleep. Given the current need to practise social distancing and isolation, many people are also being encouraged to work from home where possible.
Working from home can bring a whole new set of challenges and the need to provide structure to your day is even more important. Some tips to help you have a sense of normality and work effectively from home are:
- Change out of your pyjamas each morning – While you don't have to dress as formally as you might when going into the office, getting out of your pyjamas can help you get in the right headspace to start your day.
- Set up a dedicated workspace – Choose a space away from noise and with adequate lighting to set up your work desk. If possible, use an adjustable desk chair so you can work comfortably.
- Set a strict schedule – It can be hard to switch-off from work, so it is important to clearly define your working hours, ensuring you have regular breaks. Disconnect from all work-related accounts (e.g., remote desktops, email) at the end of your working day to help maintain a clear boundary between your work and home life.
- Limit distractions – Being at home can mean you can be easily distracted by other people or tasks (e.g., household chores). Schedule set times where you can take a break from work to complete these tasks, rather than completing them randomly throughout the day where you can lose track of time.
- Keep in touch – Maintain regular contact with your manager/ colleagues (via phone, email or videoconferencing) to ensure you are each aware of your tasks, workload and timelines.
Connecting With Our Team
Staying connected is an important way of maintaining good positive mental health. This is especially important now, when the world seems to be shifting daily and uncertainty is the new normal.Fertility treatment is tough both physically and emotionally. Overlay this with the anxiety of a global pandemic and things can sometimes seem overwhelming. Although in this section we've provided information and strategies to help you cope in times of stress, we realise that nothing can beat talking to someone else.
We make it easy to connect with one of our counsellors. You can either:
- Call 1800 674 531 or email your Monash IVF clinic directly
- Ask any Monash IVF staff member with whom you're in contact
Start your fertility journey
Wherever you are on your journey, one of our supportive nurses can help you understand your options and take the next step. These conversations are free and informative.