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Not having children in what still remains a pro-natalist society causes significant loss and grief. Approximately one in six couples today experience difficulty in conceiving. In response to the increase in the number of people seeking treatment there has been a spectacular increase in the number of fertility clinics established throughout Australia. Clinics are required to provide patients with counselling; however, little is known about counselling in this context. This paper charts the development of Assisted Reproductive Clinics in Australia and the requirement for counselling to be provided. It reports on results from an exploratory study, carried out in 2000, examining the role and extent of the counselling services that are provided in Australian fertility clinics. Forty eight clinics were sent a questionnaire with a 60% response rate. The results indicate that counselling is provided for a wide range of issues that people experience during fertility treatment. The provision of support and information was ranked most highly. What is most striking are the relatively low numbers of people who take up the offer of counselling. The authors discuss why this might be the case and calls for further exploration of peoples’ experiences. This project was funded by a small grant from the Australian Research Council. We would like to thank Kim Riding, Counsellor at Canberra Fertility Clinic for her help and advice on the project also Joanna Zubrzycki and Gail Winkworth for their feedback on the draft paper. We would also thank the reviewers who provided constructive comments on this paper.


Institute of Child Protection Studies

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access