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 five 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.
Now that things have eased as regards COVID restrictions, I am now seeing people face-to-face again. However, I'll still be offering 'virtual' or remote counselling appointments by phone, Zoom, Facetime or Skype if you would prefer that.
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, missed 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
I also offer support to those individuals experiencing the shock of discovering they were donor-conceived through DNA testing or by other means.
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 struggling or even 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 relationship difficulties, or 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 Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or phone 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, we can arrange counselling by Skype, FaceTime or by telephone. The sessions can happen in the comfort of your own home from anywhere in the UK or indeed anywhere around the world.
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 263 794
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THE LION’S DEN: AN ANALOGY FOR PREGNANCY LOSS
Picture this . . . . .
Imagine a large enclosure surrounded by a high chain-link fence. This is the home of a full-grown lion.
The lion spends most of his days at one end of this enclosure – sleeping and eating and generally hanging out. It’s where the zookeeper feeds him his daily ration of meat – and where the public can view this big cat going about his daily life - from a safe distance.
At the far end of this long enclosure are two gates. The one on the left side is the entrance into the lion’s den and on the far side is another leading out.
This image represents the nine months of pregnancy.
For most women who get pregnant, all they do is open the first gate and (metaphorically speaking) walk casually and happily across the width of the enclosure, posting photos of their scan pictures on Facebook, deciding on possible names for their baby, arranging their baby shower, buying all the necessary and lovely things for their about-to-arrive newborn – and, when they get to the other side, they simply open the gate and pick up the lovely baby waiting for them there. And off they go to enjoy motherhood.
Then, when these women want another baby, all they do is go back round to the first gate, open it up, walk blithely and optimistically across the compound and again pick up their next baby who is waiting for them on the other side of the far gate.
For some women, however, the journey across this lion’s den is nothing like this.
She too opens the first gate and starts to walk across the enclosure, but, unbeknown to her, the lion has decided to take a stroll around his domain that day, to stretch his legs and see how the land lies. To her horror, she sees the lion notice her in his territory and instantly he attacks.
Mauled and scratched and badly hurt the woman runs towards the first gate and thankfully escapes. But, bleeding and maimed and utterly traumatised by this shocking event, she finds herself right back where she started – on the outside of the compound . . . with no baby.
What is more, her husband or partner watches this with horror from the other side of the fence, completely helpless and powerless to do anything to save his loved one from such suffering. This vicarious trauma is as distressing for him as it is for her, but he feels the need to be strong for her – after all, he was not the one who has been clawed and injured, it was not his body this has happened to. But he feels the shock and he feels the loss too.
So, imagine how keen the woman will be to consider entering that lion’s enclosure again. This time she knows a dangerous animal lives there and that he poses a severe risk to her emotional and physical wellbeing. It can take a great deal of courage and strength for a woman who has suffered a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, or a medical termination, to contemplate facing such a threat again.
When, finally, she does feel strong enough to take that risk again, she enters the compound full of fear and trepidation. Gingerly she tiptoes across the vast space – day by interminable knicker-checking day, week by endless week, month by testing month, never being able to relax fully – especially when she gets close to the place where the attack happened previously. And even then, she can never be fully sure the lion will not appear again to maul her.
And what is more, she realises to her sorrow, that she has been robbed of the joy, the delight, the celebration and the pleasure of pregnancy that other women take so much for granted. Rather she is nervous and anxious and worries at every little sign, twinge and bodily sensation that alerts her, unbidden, and reminds her of what happened before.
Gradually, as she gets closer and closer to the other side and she can see the exit gate in sight (and no lion in her vision so far), she may begin to allow herself to trust that this baby might just be hers.
Sadly though, for some very unfortunate women, they may have to experience this traumatic event a number of times before they finally get to leave the compound and attain the baby for which they have been yearning for so long.
Women who have lost a pregnancy, in whatever way, need a huge amount of love, empathy, support and understanding. No amount of saying things like ‘Well at least you know you can get pregnant’ or ‘It will be fine this time, just be positive’ or ‘You mustn’t be so stressed and anxious - it’s not good for the pregnancy’ will make it easier for her. In fact such comments can be counter-productive as she’ll feel misunderstood or think you think it was her fault that it happened. Allowing her to be worried, recognising her understandable fears, and acknowledging her sadness at not being able to enjoy her pregnancy as she would have loved, may actually help her.
Ask her what she needs. Listen to her. Check out with her what does help. Let her be upset - even weeks or months after it happened. Let her cry. Let her talk - without being afraid that broaching the subject will 'upset her'. Hold back on the well-meant comments about how she needs to stay positive. In this way, you may be able to ease – if only a little - the distress that such a challenging and dreadful time is bringing her.
By Wendy Martin
For most people Mother’s Day is a lovely time of celebration, but if you’ve been trying unsuccessfully for a baby and are not yet lucky enough to be a mum, it can trigger a range of painful feelings and can be a heart-breaking reminder of your lack of a family.
Understand and accept yourself
To get through this day, you need to accept that if you’re feeling bad and finding it all really hard, it’s completely understandable for you to be feeling this way and, given your situation, you are responding perfectly normally.
Accept that others may not realise just how painful this day is for you
Some of the people around you (particularly family and friends with children) may find it hard to understand just how difficult Mother’s Day can be for those struggling to have a baby.
Rather than fight against this and build up resentment towards those who lack the empathy you would like, it can sometimes help simply to accept ‘what is’. Accept that those closest to you don’t mean to be insensitive or un-empathic, it’s just that they genuinely don’t get how hard it is for you.
Think through how you can best manage the day
You need to take care of yourself on this challenging day and work out what’s going to be the best way for you to cope. Think about it in advance and talk your fears and concerns through with your partner or a close friend. Plan how you might best manage this day and be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Try to make the day as safe for you as you possibly can. Here are some tips:
1. Make your mum’s Mother’s Day really special
Divert your attention away from your own loss and sadness at not being a mother by giving yourself over to making it a lovely day for your own mum – but in a way that makes it more manageable for you:
~ Make a unique home-made Mother’s Day card yourself
Rather than go into your local card shop and be faced with all those Mother’s Day cards, perhaps you could make a personal home-made card for your mum. You don’t have to be a great artist – your mum will love it whatever you do. Just get creative!
~ Invite your mum for afternoon tea at your house – and make it very special
If you can’t handle going to a pub or restaurant and being faced with all the other mums, families and children then invite your mum to your home – for a special breakfast or afternoon tea – and treat her like a queen.
~ If, sadly, you do not have your mum around, perhaps you can buy some flowers or bake a cake in her memory
You might just like to invite a friend or neighbour round for coffee and cake and show them some photos of your mum and reminisce a bit.
2. If you do go out for the day think about how you can best manage it
It may be hard for some to avoid the big family gathering so you might need to think about it in advance and work on how you will cope with this highly challenging situation:
~ Have a getaway plan
If your family know you have been struggling to have a baby, you could explain to them that you might be understandably sensitive and that you may not stay as long as you normally would. Enlist the help of someone you trust to explore an exit strategy that enables you to get away if it all becomes too much.
~ Find ways of avoiding certain topics of conversation and divert people from particularly difficult lines of enquiry
On a day like Mother’s Day there may be a few insensitive questions about your plans to become a mother. These are like little jellyfish stings and it makes you feel uncomfortable. Remember, you don’t have to answer. You could think about having a stock phrase like “Oh I’m not thinking about me right now – it’s mum’s special day” and then divert the attention from yourself by saying something lovely about your mum.
3. If you can – simply escape from it all
If you are able to avoid Mothering Sunday and get away completely, then try and plan something as pleasurable and self-supporting as possible. Go for a long walk in the middle of the country where the chances of seeing families is reduced – and take a picnic if it’s a nice day. Or book in a spa day and luxuriate for hours in peace and tranquillity. Perhaps you could go on a long car ride to somewhere interesting. Or maybe a bit of retail therapy might help – treat yourself!
One way or another you need to look after yourself, be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to have the feelings you have. Although it’s not like you, remember, like many others who are going through what you are, you are reacting normally. You will get through it!