The infertility team at Northwestern Medicine understands that the journey to parenthood can sometimes take a long and circuitous path.
Through our work with patients as well as available research, we understand that infertility, pregnancy loss, and other reproductive concerns can take an emotional toll on individuals, couples, and families. Early research found that the stress of infertility resulted in feelings of loss, anger, and guilt (Mahlstedt, 1985).
These feelings can change over the course of treatment and can differ for men and women (Greil, 1997; Newton et al, 1990; Peterson et al, 2006). As individuals and couples grapple with the treatment process, other issues such as, how much treatment should we undergo, should we use donor egg or sperm, should we adopt or be child-free, often emerge.
These questions can prompt a variety of emotional reactions (Hanafin, 2006; Sachs & Burns, 2006; Thorn, 2006). Years of clinical experience and psychosocial research have helped us find ways to help patients cope with the stress of infertility and fertility treatment (see e.g., Klock, 2006; Klock & Maier, 1991).
Coping with infertility is often not as simple as one would hope and may be different for women and men as they become involved in treatment.
In fact, research shows that women use a variety of strategies to cope with the stress of infertility including blaming themselves, seeking social support, finding meaning and avoiding the problem, whereas, men may be more likely to cope by not talking about infertility, trying to problem solve, or trying to find humor in the situation.
Use of these differing coping strategies may lead to misunderstandings, communication difficulty or marital discord. This same research suggests that avoiding thinking or talking about infertility and blaming oneself may increase individual and/or marital stress (Peterson, Newton, Rosen, & Skaggs, 2006).
Because infertility and its treatment can result in diverse emotional reactions, we offer personalized pre-treatment psychological consultation, individual and couples counseling, psychological assessment, and emotional support to you through the treatment process and beyond. These emotional support services focus on the often complex nature of stress and coping with fertility treatment, and address:
When to schedule an appointment:
An appointment with Dr. Klock, Dr. Lawson, or Dr. Swanson is scheduled for you as part of the IVF registration process, when using donor sperm, donor eggs, or a gestational carrier. However, there are other times where appointments could be beneficial to you. These include:
These services are provided by our three licensed clinical psychologists, Dr. Susan Klock, Dr. Angela Lawson, and Dr. Amelia Swanson, who in addition to their broad training in clinical and health psychology, have specialized training in psychological issues related to infertility, reproductive loss, parenting, and other reproductive concerns.
Susan C. Klock, PhD, is a Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology and Psychiatry at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Klock is a licensed psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive health.
After completing her doctorate, Dr. Klock completed postdoctoral training in the Section of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Connecticut Health Center. In 1991 she joined the staff of Brigham and Women’s Hospital where she served as the Director of Women’s Mental Health Services in the Department of Psychiatry and was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School teaching medical students and residents about the psychological aspects of women’s health.
In 1994 she joined the faculty at Northwestern where she continues to provide consultation and psychotherapy related to infertility, conducts research on the psychological aspects of infertility and teaches at the medical school. She has served on the Executive Council of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and the national RESOLVE’s Mental Health Advisory Board. Dr. Klock is also a past president of the Mental Health Professional Group of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and a task force member of the Institute of Medicine panel on the medical risks of oocyte donation. She is the author of over 30 scientific papers and monographs on the psychological aspects of infertility.
Angela K. Lawson, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology and Psychiatry at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Lawson is a licensed psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive health.
After completing her doctorate, Dr. Lawson completed postdoctoral training in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. Dr. Lawson joined the faculty at Northwestern in 2008 where she provides consultation as well as individual / couple’s psychotherapy related to infertility and other reproductive concerns.
She also conducts research on the psychological aspects of infertility with a particular focus on gamete donation. Dr. Lawson serves as the Chair of the Executive Committee for the Mental Health Professional Group of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
Amelia Swanson, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology and Psychiatry at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Swanson is a licensed psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive health.
After completing her doctorate, Dr. Swanson completed postdoctoral training in Integrated Primary Care across the lifespan at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, MA. In 2016, Dr. Swanson joined the faculty at University of Massachusetts Medical School/UMASS Memorial Medical Center as an attending Health Psychologist on the Consultation/Liaison service. She provided treatment to patients across two hospitals as well as taught psychology and medical trainees about psychological aspects of complex medical issues. Dr. Swanson joined the faculty of Northwestern in 2018 where she provides consultation as well as individual / couple’s psychotherapy related to infertility and other reproductive concerns.
Dr. Swanson also conducts research on the psychological aspects of medical issues. She has a particular focus on how patients are resilient in the face of medical challenges such as infertility and find meaning and purpose in their life while struggling with infertility.
How to request an appointment:
Patients may be referred to our psychologists by a healthcare provider, or they may self-refer. Call 312.695.7269 to schedule an appointment and to ask about your insurance coverage for out-patient mental health benefits.