Counseling Clients Who Have Trouble Conceiving
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
In Counseling Clients Who Have Trouble Conceiving, Dr. Susan H. McDaniel demonstrates her approach to working with clients experiencing primary infertility, or difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to full term for the first time. Approximately 1 in 5 couples in the United States have difficulty conceiving, a biopsychosocial problem that can often result in adjustment disorders, depression, and couple and family problems. Dr. McDaniel uses medical family therapy as the framework for therapy with this population.
In this DVD, Dr. McDaniel works with a woman in her mid-20s who has not yet been able to conceive after 2 years of striving to have a baby, with medical tests providing no clear reasons for the problem. Dr. McDaniel listens to the client's story, paying particular attention to the client's expectations and the reactions and role of her husband in this couple problem. She then inventories the client's and couple's strengths and encourages them to seek support in an infertility group.
Medical family therapy is a metaframework for psychotherapy with patients and families facing health problems. It is based on biopsychosocial systems theory and works to integrate the mind–body split by understanding the affect of physical illness or disability on emotional and interpersonal processes (and vice versa). Collaboration with patients and relevant family members, as well as with other health professionals, is part of the foundation of medical family therapy.
Common techniques include:
- taking a health history when learning about the presenting complaint
- eliciting the illness history
- including other health professionals in sessions when relevant
- understanding the transgenerational family health history and common coping strategies
- accepting unacceptable feelings
- alleviating blame and guilt
- grieving loss of function or ability
- strengthening the couple's or family's ability to face health problems
Infertility is a prevalent problem in the United States. Approximately 1 in 5 couples have difficulty conceiving. The stress and disappointment of not conceiving as expected, or "naturally," can result in adjustment disorders, depression, and couple and family problems.
Medical family therapy with women and couples struggling with infertility involves interventions such as
- normalizing the emotional response to this invisible problem
- examining the couple's individual and relational responses
- helping them take charge of the problem (which may or may not involve treatment)
- grieving the loss of an easy pregnancy
- developing rituals to deal with the monthly disappointment of not becoming pregnant
- protecting the couple's intimate life while being realistic about the frequent impact of medicalizing sexuality for procreation
- examining the emotional and financial costs of fertility treatments
- taking breaks from treatment for emotional reasons
- deciding "when to say when"
- dealing with extended family and friends' responses to the problem
- using community support groups
Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, is professor of psychiatry and family medicine, associate chair of the Department of Family Medicine, and director of family programs at the Wynne Center for Family Research, which is part of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She is nationally and internationally known for her publications on families and health. Her special areas of interest are behavioral health in primary care, and family dynamics and genetic conditions. She is a frequent speaker at meetings of both health and mental health professionals.
Dr. McDaniel has been recognized by the American Psychological Association as the 1995 Family Psychologist of the Year; she received the award for Innovative Contributions to Family Therapy from the American Family Therapy Academy in 2000, the award for Distinguished Contribution to Education from the Association of Medical School Psychologists in 2004, and she will receive the American Psychological Foundation Cummings PSYCHE Prize in 2007.
Dr. McDaniel was chair of the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education in 1998, president of Division 43 (Family Psychology) of the American Psychological Association in 2000, and chair of the APA Publications and Communications Board in 2003. As a representative of APA, Dr. McDaniel was the first psychologist to complete the Bureau of Health Professions Primary Care Policy fellowship in 1998. She is currently on the board of the American Family Therapy Academy.
Dr. McDaniel is coeditor (with Thomas Campbell, MD) of the multidisciplinary journal, Families, Systems & Health. She coauthored or coedited the following books: Systems Consultation (1986); Family-Oriented Primary Care (1990 and 2005); Medical Family Therapy (1992); Integrating Family Therapy (1995); Counseling Families with Chronic Illness (1995); The Shared Experience of Illness (1997); Casebook for Integrating Family Therapy (2001); Primary Care Psychology (2004); The Biopsychosocial Approach: Past, Present, and Future (2004); and Individuals, Families, and the New Era of Genetics (2007). Her books have been translated into German, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Portuguese, and Spanish.
- Diamond, R., Meyers, M., Kezur, D., Scharf, C. N., & Weinshel, M. (1999). Couple therapy for infertility. New York: Guilford Press.
- McDaniel, S. H., Hepworth, J., & Doherty, W. (1992). Pregnancy loss, infertility, and reproductive technology. In Medical family therapy: A biopsychosocial approach to families with health problems (pp. 152–183). New York: Basic Books.
- McDaniel, S. H., & Speice, J. (2001). What family psychology has to offer women's health: The examples of conversion somatization, infertility treatment, and genetic testing. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 32, 44–51.
- Counseling Clients Who Have Difficulty Getting Pregnant Again
Susan H. McDaniel
- Couples and Illness
Tamara Goldman Sher
- Family Therapy With Patients Having Physical Health Problems
Susan H. McDaniel
- Individual Therapy From a Family Systems Perspective
Florence W. Kaslow
- Sexual Health
- Casebook for Integrating Family Therapy: An Ecosystemic Approach
Edited by Susan H. McDaniel, Don-David Lusterman, and Carol L. Philpot
- Couples Coping With Stress: Emerging Perspectives on Dyadic Coping
Edited by Tracey A. Revenson, Karen Kayser, and Guy Bodenmann
- Enhanced Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy for Couples: A Contextual Approach
Norman B. Epstein and Donald H. Baucom
- Integrating Family Therapy: Handbook of Family Psychology and Systems Theory
Edited by Richard H. Mikesell, Don-David Lusterman, and Susan H. McDaniel
- Primary Care Psychology
Edited by Robert G. Frank, Susan H. McDaniel, James H. Bray, and Margaret Heldring
- Therapeutic Alliances in Couple and Family Therapy: An Empirically Informed Guide to Practice
Myrna L. Friedlander, Valentín Escudero, and Laurie Heatherington