Counselling in infertility: individual, couple and group interventions

Patient Educ Couns. 2010 Dec;81(3):422-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2010.10.009. Epub 2010 Nov 13.


Objective: Infertility is considered a biopsychosocial crisis and infertility counselling is recommended as an integral part of a multidisciplinary approach. This article will outline the theoretical background and describe common interventions used in infertility counselling for individuals, couples and in a group setting.

Methods: This article summarizes the proceedings of the first campus workshop of the Special interest group of Psychology and Counselling of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).

Results: Infertility counselling offers the opportunity to explore, discover and clarify ways of living more satisfyingly and resourcefully when fertility impairments have been diagnosed. The Heidelberg Fertility Consultation Service is presented as a framework for individual and couples counselling and highlights important issues in counselling patients. For group work a number of steps to set up a group within an infertility framework are discussed.

Conclusion: In recent years, infertility counselling has become a specialist form of counselling requiring professional expertise and qualification. Key issues and common interventions are presented to raise awareness for the specific counselling needs of individuals and couples experiencing infertility and undergoing medical treatment.

Practice implications: Mental health professionals new to the field of reproductive technologies as well as those in other areas of mental health counselling clients with fertility disorders can benefit from the topics addressed.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility / psychology*
  • Infertility / therapy
  • Male
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / psychology
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Stress, Psychological