I would like to extend a warm welcome to my website.
Whether you have had counselling before or this is the first time you've considered seeking professional support for a difficult issue in your life, I hope I may be able to offer something that can help you at this time.
I have been a counsellor for twenty years and have a wide range of experience in individual and couple therapy.
My specialist areas are infertility and miscarriage support as I have been involved in this field since 1996.
I also offer counselling to those couples for whom their fertility treatment is coming to an end and who are thinking about having a family through adoption.
I counsel couples who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships - either due to infertility difficulties or for other personal reasons.
And finally I have experience in supporting those who sadly may be going through divorce or separation - particularly those involved in the collaborative divorce process.
Individual and Couple Counselling
At times of stress or distress counselling is the chance to talk through the problems or dilemmas you may be facing with a skilled therapist. This allows you to discover your own way to a greater understanding of yourself and your problems and find your way towards the solutions that work best for you.
Please click here if you are interested in individual or couple therapy.
Infertility and Miscarriage Counselling
As a specialist infertility and miscarriage counsellor my field of expertise is in counselling women, men, couples, single women and lesbian couples who are experiencing difficulties having the family they desire. I can offer specialist support if you are:
Undergoing fertility tests, investigations and treatments
Suffering miscarriage, multiple miscarriages or ectopic pregnancy
Having fertility treatment or donor conception either in the UK or abroad
Contemplating being a solo mum using donor sperm
Having to make the decision to terminate a much wanted pregnancy
Ending or not even able to start fertility treatment
Experiencing secondary infertility where a longed for second child eludes you
Facing a life without children for whatever reason
Experiencing the grief of having no children in the later stages of life
Please click here for more information on Counselling for Infertility and Miscarriage.
Coping Strategies for Infertility and Miscarriage
If you do not feel counselling is what you are looking for but think you could benefit from help to reduce the stresses and strains that arise when trying for a baby, I also offer a range of tools and techniques which I have gained over many years working as an infertility and miscarriage counsellor.
These self-help tools can enable you to maintain your equilibrium and well-being as you face the challenges such a journey can bring.
If you would like more information on how you might reduce your stress and distress levels whilst you are trying for a family please click here.
Therapy for Divorce or Separation
If you are feeling emotionally shaken because your relationship or marriage is ending, talking to someone at this difficult time may help you see a way through the challenges you are facing.
Please click here if you are going through divorce or separation and would like to see how counselling could help you.
~ ACCESSING MY SERVICES ~
Face to Face in North Bristol
If you live in or around Bristol or in the South West of England I can see you at my practice room in Bishopston, North Bristol, UK.
Click here for a map. The post code is BS79DR.
Brynland Avenue is a one-way street that runs south, parallel to the A38 (the Gloucester Road) and is situated conveniently for the city centre, the M32, M4 and M5. Free parking is available in the streets nearby.
Counselling by Skype from anywhere in the UK or abroad
If you don't live in or around Bristol or it is difficult for you to get to face-to-face appointments you can arrange counselling by Skype in the comfort of your own home - from anywhere in the UK.
A counselling session by Skype can be just as helpful and effective as face-to-face sessions and I work successfully both as a general therapist and as an infertility and miscarriage counsellor with clients from all over the UK as well as outside the UK.
I am happy to talk through with you how to download Skype if you don't have it already.
Feel free to enquire for more information or make an appointment
Thank you for taking the time to browse my website. I hope it has been of some help to you.
If you have any further questions I'm happy to talk things over with you without obligation.
Text or phone: 07847 263 874
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MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT STRESS AND PREGNANCY
We all know that stress affects the ability to get pregnant and remain pregnant, right?
“But surely,” I hear you say, “everyone knows that you need to be stress-free in order to conceive or maintain a pregnancy?” Why else would everyone you know tell you to relax and reduce your stress levels when you explain to them you’re struggling to conceive, or finding it difficult to stay pregnant?
Many women who are experiencing fertility issues or multiple miscarriages believe that emotional stress and distress, or the tensions arising from difficult life-events, are factors in them not getting pregnant naturally, or succeeding with fertility treatment, or maintaining a pregnancy.
This view is largely based on anecdotal evidence and fertility myths such as 'don't think about it and you'll get pregnant', or “you just need to take a holiday/work less/relax more” etc. Plus there’s loads of information on the internet that supports these widely-held beliefs.
Nonetheless there is little scientific evidence to support such notions.
Misconceptions about stress and natural conception
NHS Choices website analysed a scientific study which claimed that the levels of two stress hormones – cortisol and an enzyme produced in response to adrenaline levels (alpha amylase) – affected the likelihood of getting pregnant.
The researchers did find that women with higher salivary alpha-amylase levels were less likely to fall pregnant, compared with women with lower levels, but this was only of borderline statistical significance and they concluded that the study failed to prove the effects of stress on natural conception and fertility.
I once asked a PhD student who was doing research into stress and infertility if she believed stress affected a woman's chances of conceiving. She said "It is well known that stress does not affect IVF treatment outcome but it can affect natural conception." When I pressed her further she said this was because when a couple are very stressed in their lives, perhaps due to financial difficulties, serious problems at work or difficulties in their personal and family lives they may be emotionally and physically exhausted, they may argue a lot and fall out more, and generally be more unhappy. She said that the direct consequence of this is that couples don't have sex as much as they need to in order to conceive - so in this way stress can affect their chances of pregnancy. I realised then why everyone says 'Just relax! You're too stressed" and that when a couple go on holiday and get on better and have the odd glass of wine, they may be more likely to get pregnant.
Misconceptions about stress and miscarriage
The NHS Choices website outlines some misconceptions about miscarriage and concluded that “increased risk of miscarriage is not linked to a mother's emotional state during pregnancy, such as being stressed or depressed”.
Misconceptions about on fertility treatment
Likewise, the notions about stress affecting the outcome of fertility treatment also do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.
In 2011 Professor Jacky Boivin from the Cardiff Fertility Studies Research Group, investigated links between stress the success of fertility treatment. She undertook a large-scale review (known as a ‘meta-analysis) of all the studies that had been done on the impact of stress and distress on fertility treatment outcome. *
Fourteen studies with a total of 3,583 infertile women were included in the review. The women were assessed before fertility treatment for anxiety and stress. The authors then compared data for women who achieved pregnancy and those who did not.
The results show that emotional distress was not associated with whether or not a woman became pregnant.
Professor Boivin therefore argues that "these findings should reassure women that emotional distress caused by fertility problems or other life events co-occurring with treatment will not compromise their chance of becoming pregnant."
Boivin's conclusion was supported the following year in another study into the relationship between psychological distress and IVF treatment outcome found that pre-IVF psychological distress does not predict IVF failure .**
It is an understatement to say that it’s stressful trying for a baby when all around you seem to do it so quickly and effortlessly, but stressing yourself about getting stressed and fearing your stress levels are the cause of your difficulties is soul-destroying and only serves to make women feel responsible and to blame for their lack of a family.
It is of course a good idea to reduce stress in your life if you can – through mindfulness, yoga, relaxation, gentle exercise, counselling or whatever helps you cope with the difficulties you are experiencing – but only because it makes a sometimes long and emotionally difficult journey more bearable. And the better you cope with this challenging and testing life-event the more likely you are to keep going until you succeed in the end.
So the one thing you can do is stop stressing about the stress your difficulties are causing you and tell anyone who says otherwise where to get off!
*J. Boivin, E. Griffiths, C. A. Venetis. Emotional distress in infertile women and failure of assisted reproductive technologies: meta-analysis of prospective psychosocial studies. BMJ, 2011
** L. A. Pasch, S. E. Gregorich, P. K. Katz, S. G. Millstein, R. D. Nachtigall, M. E. Bleil, and N.E. Adler. Psychological distress and in vitro fertilisation outcome. Fertil Steril, 2012