Psychological Support Services at IRMS

Infertility is a crisis that can impact nearly every aspect of life, including your relationships, career and self-esteem. Unless you have had a medical condition earlier in your life, very few people ever plan on needing medical treatment to conceive a child and build their families. One in seven couples find that this is the case — they are faced with a tangle of emotions that can leave them feeling hopeless and isolated.

At IRMS we understand the heartache of infertility. In an effort to treat the total patient, we offer a holistic approach, caring for the body and the mind. With that in mind IRMS offers on-site mental health services to help our patients with all aspects of infertility.

We recognize that treatment can be stressful even under the best of circumstances, and that there are many issues you need to consider both before and during the treatment process.

We provide our patients with a wide range of support, including individual and couples counseling, support group meetings focusing on different aspects of infertility and educational events to facilitate the patient’s understanding of their experience. These services can help you cope with the many concerns in infertility treatment:

The impact of seeking treatment

  • Dilemmas about the myriad of decisions needed to be made
  • Ethical and practical concerns about treatment options
  • Managing one’s expectations throughout treatment
  • Negotiating the feelings that accompany infertility
  • Communication issues with those in your life: partner, family, friends, co-workers
  • What to do when treatment doesn’t work
  • Community resources

Research indicates that support can help people with virtually any health problem to feel better. In particular, women who attend support groups have been proven to feel less psychological distress than those who do not attend. Condition-based support groups, like those for infertility, do more than offer support, compassion and friendship. Participation in such groups also validates emotions; provide advice and insight into a diagnosis; and offer tips on dealing with your relationships, work, family and friends.

In addition research also shows that despite its hardships, the stressors of infertility can be managed. To that end, IRMS offers several programs specifically designed for those overwhelmed with the stress to create a family or for those who want to do all they can do to prepare for the stressors of treatment.

Support Events Information:

Recipient Forum:

Some women who use donor egg have tried to have a baby for many years but, after several failed attempts, have realized that they need more advanced fertility treatment. Others have reached advanced maternal age, when healthy conception is more difficult. However one comes to choosing to pursue this family building option, there are many questions, concerns and decisions to make. IRMS understands these struggles and has developed a Recipient Forum to assist patients in making a smooth transition. This educational event has been presented 3-4 times a year for almost 20 years here at IRMS. We invite previous donor egg recipients and egg donors to come back and share their experiences with those considering the same family building method. Attendees have reported it to be, not only informative and helpful, but also reassuring. The next Recipient Forum is Wednesday, March 2nd from 6-8:00 pm in the East Wing of the Medical Center in room 502 (fifth floor- one flight above IRMS). There is no charge for this event but registration is required. If you are interested or have questions please call Joanne Heller at 609-448-4300 or e-mail her at JHeller@sbivf.com. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.

Pregnancy after Infertility:

While pregnancy is often imagined to be a very joyous time, for many women it’s not quite what they had imagined. Pregnancy after infertility treatment can be filled with a range of emotions including anxiety, depression and mood swings. In addition to feeling fatigued and sometimes nauseous, most women feel as if they “should” feel happy to finally have the much longed for pregnancy. The shame and embarrassment that often go along with these uncomfortable feelings can be isolating. Come join a small group of other pregnant women who have all been through fertility treatment. The group will meet for four weeks, for one hour each week. The group will provide a confidential and supportive environment to feel understood. In addition, you will have the opportunity to learn some mindfulness and coping skills to assist in helping you more fully to enjoy your pregnancy and to avoid the common pitfalls associated with a high-risk emotional pregnancy.
(NOT CURERENTLY SCHEDULED – if interested in this topic contact Dr. Claudia Pascale – cpascale@sbivf.com or 973-322-5356)

Miscarriage Support Group:

Nearly one in four pregnancies ends in loss, and yet many women grieve this experience feeling very alone. This 4-week group is for women who have suffered a miscarriage and is lead by psychologist, Alexis Menken, PhD who is a member of the IRMS Support team. It will provide a supportive environment where peers can provide insight, comfort, and understanding as well as a safe environment to discuss and move towards healing this most profound life trauma. The best way to honor loss is by moving forward with your life in a healthy and balanced way. Together we will explore some widely held misunderstandings, including the idea that miscarriage is “nature’s way” and replace these mistaken notions with more helpful and realistic ways to grieve. Discover empathic and compassionate connections and learn how to navigate social minefields including invitations and social events with babies and children, how to cope with feelings of self-blame, and harmful thought habit patterns. Saturday mornings starting in April from 11:00 am-12:00 noon in the IRMS Conference Room. $200 for 4-week series. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.
Alexis Menken, PhD (973-783-7681); alexisphd@gmail.com

General Infertility Support Group:

Peer support & stress reduction are important companions when your journey to parenthood has been difficult and uncertain. Group support from peers who are facing the same difficulties has proven to help reduce stress and anxiety, increase confidence and improve one’s mood and ability to make decisions and manage the treatment. This group is professionally led by a licensed clinical social worker, Lorraine Caputo, LCSW who is a member of the IRMS Support team. This 4-week group is designed to help both those new to the process of infertility treatment or for those who have been struggling with this journey for a while. Singles and couples are welcomed. Saturday mornings starting in April from 8:30-9:30 am in the IRMS Conference Room. $200 for 4-week series.
Lorraine Caputo, LCSW (973-275-9222); lorrainecaputo53@gmail.com

Family Member Support Group

Some families faced with infertility grow closer and find ways to provide support, compassion, and understanding in the midst of the maelstrom of profound loss and despair. And then there are some families who grow apart primarily due to lack of knowledge as to how to be supportive to the members who experience the myriad of negative emotions of infertility and the pain of its many losses. Infertility is not something that either an individual, couple or family are usually prepared to handle before it strikes. Even strong, healthy families can find the challenges of infertility daunting and draining, particularly the pain of being an observer in a drama in which your loved one is suffering and there is little one can do to relieve that suffering.
Parents faced with their children’s infertility are often baffled by this crisis. It is an ‘invisible’ loss that involves private marital issues, complex medical treatments, and a rollercoaster of emotions. They may know how to support a fertile child, because of their own experience, and may be less clear about their role of support for infertile child.
Families dealing with infertility must find ways to help each member feel respected and acknowledged. This is a group for patients’ family members to help achieve open communication and strengthen bonds. This group starts March 16th and will be held on the first and third Wednesday of the month from 6-7:00 pm in the IRMS Conference Room. REGISTRATION REQUIRED.
Claudia Pascale, PhD, Director of the Psychological and Support Services at IRMS (973-322-5356); cpascale@sbivf.com

Single Woman:

Becoming a single mother by choice can be an appropriate yet daunting step towards family building. You may have been hanging on to that plan A: marriage and then a family, or perhaps suffered a break up, or just decided the time is now to build your family. It is a choice and this choice has two implications: serious and thoughtful decisions to take on the responsibility of raising a child by oneself, and a choice not to bring a child into a relationship that is not a satisfactory one. Whatever brings you to this option; it is not made without questions and doubts. Just because you may have decided to be a parent alone, doesn’t mean that you have to take the journey alone. Today % of those using fertility treatment strategies to become a parent are single.
Come join others who have either taken or are in the process of taking the same steps as you. This support group, led by Dr. Pascale, will provide the opportunity to meet others on the same road in order to develop a understanding and rewarding support network. This group will meet on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month starting Wednesday, March 23rd from 6-7:00 pm in IRMS Conference Room. REGISTRATION REQUIRED.
Claudia Pascale, PhD, Director of the Psychological and Support Services at IRMS (973-322-5356); cpascale@sbivf.com

Same Sex Couples:

(NOT CURERENTLY SCHEDULED – if interested in this topic contact Dr. Claudia Pascale – cpascale@sbivf.com or 973-322-5356)

Infertility and Celiac Support Group:

(NOT CURERENTLY SCHEDULED – if interested in this topic contact Dr. Claudia Pascale – cpascale@sbivf.com or 973-322-5356)

Online Support Group:

(NOT CURERENTLY SCHEDULED – if interested in this topic contact Dr. Claudia Pascale – cpascale@sbivf.com or 973-322-5356)

For more information about IRMS’ Psychological Support Services, including additional meeting dates and times of support groups, please contact our staff psychologist and director, Claudia Pascale, Ph.D. She can be reached at:

IRMS at Saint Barnabas
94 Old Short Hills Road
Suite 403 – East Wing
Livingston, NJ 07039
Direct: 973-322-5356
Fax: 973-322-8890