I want to offer the service I wish existed when I was going through fertility problems
When I first experienced fertility problems, in the year 2000, we had no internet at home. It was not as easy to access help and information then, as it is today. Nobody talked about infertility and there was a lot of secrecy and shame.
For many years, I didn’t look beyond ‘the physical’. Quite honestly, we spent a small fortune on ICSI cycle after ICSI cycle, almost weekly acupuncture and reflexology and expensive supplements by the bucket load. I truly believed I was ‘doing everything’. It was about 8 years down the line when I tried hypnotherapy.
I had heard about hypnotherapy for fertility, but quite honestly I dismissed it
A few friends suggested I try hypnotherapy to improve my chances of becoming pregnant. But I couldn’t see how a ‘talking therapy’ could help with such an ‘obviously physical’ issue. I can’t actually remember what triggered me to finally give hypnotherapy a try – but it’s a decision I have never regretted. Through my next fertility treatment I felt more relaxed and optimistic than I had in many years. I noticed I was more able to put myself first, to say no to things and prioritise my fertility treatment over everything else. And, most surprisingly after so many failed cycles, I felt confident and hopeful that ‘it’ could actually work.
We had a successful frozen cycle and a wonderful daughter and, quite literally, we still count our blessings every day.
I have studied the mind-body connection with a passion ever since
It fascinated me that so much could change for me after having hypnotherapy. I felt as if I had found the missing piece of a jigsaw and I began to study the mind-body connection with a passion. Very soon, I decided to train as a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist. We are so lucky to live in an age where science is ‘catching up’. By that I mean we now have actual scientific explanations and evidence of what has perhaps been known for hundreds, or even thousands, of years. That we are not just a body, but a mind and a body. And each communicates with and influences the other. The mind responds to the body and the body responds to the mind. In fact, I don’t view mind and body as separate entities.
Fertility problems are rarely, if ever, down to one single factor
I came to understand is that there is rarely a single cause for fertility problems. Even when there is a medical diagnosis, this is not the only factor at play in terms of your fertility. Lifestyle, stress, nutrition, sleep and mindset are important to name just a few of the factors that contribute to your overall fertile state.
You can bring the ‘change-able’ factors up to optimal
There are, of course, some things that cannot be changed. But there are many factors that can be changed, controlled or influenced. When you bring all the ‘change-able’ factors up to optimal – you achieve your personal optimal fertile state. And being in your optimal fertile state gives you the very best chance of conceiving and having a child.
This understanding is at the heart of my work today. My expertise is in the realms of the mind and the mind-body connection. I firmly believe that the mind is a very important part of your fertility ‘picture’ and not an area to overlook.
Working in parallel with, and in complement to, conventional medicine and other therapies
I am not somebody who offers false hope or makes guarantees or empty promises. Neither am I someone who believes “I have the answer” over and above medicine or anything else. I never lose sight of the fact that I would not be a mum today, if it were not for IVF. Also, I am grateful to the team of doctors, nurses, embryologists and scientists who make fertility treatments possible. It is not uncommon for me to ‘press pause’ on my work with women, whilst they seek medical advice or treatment.
One thing that is different about Fertile Mind and Body:
I began by saying that I want Fertile Mind and Body to be the service I wish existed when I was experiencing fertility problems. One of the things I felt was missing ‘in my day’ was a service that took a broad and holistic view of fertility.
If I saw a doctor, ‘everything’ was viewed through the lens of medicine. With a nutritionist, ‘everything’ was viewed through the lens of what I was eating. I spent a fortune and at times I felt trapped. Often, I worried that if I stopped going to these appointments, I would ‘blow my chances’ of getting pregnant. With some practitioners, I felt pressured to believe “their approach was the answer”. At the same time I felt conflicted about the money I was spending. Secretly, I questioned whether some of the appointments I was attending were making a difference. I never had the confidence to voice these fears to the practitioners I was seeing*.
Because of these experiences, I am clear from the outset, that for some people a mind-body approach and fertility hypnosis can be the missing piece of the jigsaw. For others, mindset and thinking styles are an important factor to ‘bring up to optimal’ but in the context of a wider picture of issues and circumstances.
*(I must add that, whilst I “kissed a lot of frogs”, I did also work with some excellent practitioners, who I remain grateful to. I very much support and advocate many approaches to fertility health, such as acupuncture, reflexology and massage).
A second thing that is different about Fertile Mind and Body:
At Fertile Mind and Body I have open conversations with my clients about the kind of stuff I refer to above. I know how much my clients are investing (financially and emotionally). It is important to me that our time together is always valuable. As I said above, it is not uncommon for my clients and I to agree to ‘press pause’ while they have medical assessments, other complementary therapies or take time to implement some of the changes we have set in motion.
A third thing that is different about Fertile Mind and Body:
Fertile Mind and Body is not an ongoing commitment. I see many women for a short period of time and then they are ‘good to go’ for want of a better phrase. My aim is to support and empower women, so that they are resourced with a healthy mindset. When my clients are equipped with the tools to positively move forward, our time together may come to an end (if that is what they choose). Most of my clients do not feel the need to see me for ongoing treatment.
The reality, for some people (like myself), is that it can take a long time to have the baby you long for. In a small number of cases I have worked with women for up to 3 years. But in these cases, after the initial phase of work, there are gaps between us meeting (sometimes for as long as 6 months). I am available for support on an “as needed” basis.
Lastly: I might mention the ‘elephant in the room’
At Fertile Mind and Body I listen for ‘the big picture’. I am not only looking through the lens of psychotherapy or mind-body. This means I am honest if I think there may be an important factor, contributing to your fertility problems. I am always wondering, is there something being missed, avoided or overlooked?
My work genuinely comes from the place of wanting to help because I know just how important having a baby is to you. I don’t take risks or chances with that.
There may be times when I mention ‘an elephant in the room’. If I think there could be an important issue to address before we move on to optimising fertility with hypnosis, I will share my thoughts with you.
I am not perfect
Because of the trust and relationship developed, I can work supportively with my clients on the ‘elephant in the room’. Many of my clients are relieved to hear that I didn’t ‘do’ my own fertility journey with a zen like calm!
You will never see me holding myself up as a model of health and perfection. I don’t judge you if, for example, you drank too much wine last night or made your way through a giant slab of chocolate because you felt so fed up. If you are finding it impossibly hard to celebrate your best friend’s pregnancy, I really do understand.
Good therapy should always feel supportive and non-judgemental. But therapy should also help you find solutions and move you forward to your goals and desired outcome. Sometimes I may challenge you, but always in your best interests, in a sensitive way and at an appropriate time. You are in control of the focus of our work together and we are on the same team!
We might make important discoveries
Because I look through a broad lens – and don’t champion “my way as the only way” – we sometimes discover something important that has been missed.
To give a recent example, I am currently working with a woman who has been struggling for 3 years to conceive her second child. She told me she had received a diagnosis of Adenomyosis a year before coming to see me. The way that she heard the diagnosis had been traumatic for her (just moments after coming round from an anaesthetic after the medical investigation). (Adenomyosis is a condition similar to Endometriosis, in which the inner lining of the uterus breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus).
This diagnosis was having a significant affect on this lovely woman’s beliefs about her ability to conceive. By our second or third session, I had the increasing sense that her periods and menstrual cycle did not match the known symptoms of Adenomyosis. It was also evident that this lovely woman had been quite traumatised by the manner in which she received the diagnosis. I am not a doctor and never give medical advice. But I asked this client to bring the Consultant’s letter to her next appointment. I could see from the letter that the diagnosis was actually unclear and there had been no follow up. I suggested the client go back to her GP and we ‘pressed pause’ on our work.
Everyone is busy and has limited time and resources. I am flexible in the scheduling of my appointments as sometimes time, money or attention is better directed elsewhere. When the time is right again, we resume our work, resourced with more information.
In the above case, the GP was very supportive and made an immediate referral to a consultant. Obviously, for reasons of confidentiality I cannot disclose further, but things are now moving forward in a positive direction for this individual.
Fertile Mind and Body is an ethical practice
As a UKCP registered psychotherapist I work to a strict code of ethics and professional standards. I have regular clinical supervision and my supervisor is both a medical doctor and a hypo-psychotherapist. I always work within the scope of my expertise and experience. My client’s best interests are at the very heart of all that I do.
I genuinely believe that Fertile Mind and Body makes a difference to women’s ability to conceive – and to the way they experience the journey along the way.
It would be my privilege to be part of your fertility journey.
With my best wishes