When treatment appears futile The role of the mental health professional and end of treatment counseling

Capsule:
The end of fertility treatment can be an emotionally difficult time. Mental health professionals can provide counseling to support patients’ adjustment.

Authors:
Susan C. Klock, Ph.D.

Volume 104, Issue 2, Pages 267-270

Abstract:

The end of treatment, whether initiated by the medical team or by the patient, represents a difficult transition for the patient. The mental health professional, as part of a multidisciplinary team, can offer important assistance and support to the patient as they move through the end of their infertility treatment. A description of the topics covered in exit counseling is provided, as well as indications for referral.

  • The issues highlighted in this article definitely emphasize the importance of having a mental health professional available to patients in a fertility practice. As the author writes, the stress experienced during treatment affects patients on many levels- emotional, physical, financial etc.
    Many patients make significant financial sacrifices, put their job security at risk because of the frequent appointments, and then feel like a “failure” when treatments are not successful. When treatment ends because of medical futility or due to financial reasons, the clinic staff may feel helpless. Ideally, counseling by a mental health professional should be considered for all patients in this context. The main problem is that not many clinics have the “luxury” of a dedicated MHP on-site.

    • Susan Klock

      Thank you, I appreciate your comments and recognition of the importance of a mental health professional on the treatment team. I agree that in many practices having a mental health professional on staff is considered a luxury but I think mental health professionals play an important role on the treatment team. In our practice, over the the past 20 years, we have seen that our patients appreciate the availability of the psychologists and it helps them realize that we want to care for the whole person in their journey to create their family; or in the case when treatment doesn’t work, in their adjustment to the end of treatment.

      • Thank you for your prompt and insightful reply! Appreciate it.
        Alex Quaas

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