Q&A with Barbara Blitzer
Question: What inspired you to write the infertility workbook?
Answer: I was inspired to write the book after years of working with people struggling with fertility issues. I observed that instruction in specific mind-body, stress reduction skills were empowering and helpful. Those who understood the challenges of fertility issues went through the process more easily, had better relationships, and could make decisions more effectively. I wrote the book to share the techniques and insights that have been effective with countless clients and to make them available to a wider audience.
Question: What types of exercises and worksheets are in the book? Are some of them geared to have couples to do together?
Answer: This is an inclusive book. It addresses conceptual, emotional, and practical issues related to fertility. For each topic there is an informational section, a set of exercises that help the reader explore her personal experience and a Take Charge section with instruction in mind-body practices that relate to the specific topic discussed. Topics include the mind-body connection, understanding and reducing worry, coping with the emotional roller coaster of hope and disappointment, and working with the body. There are also chapters involving more practical issues such as choosing a fertility practice, understanding the fertility workup and some common diagnoses, and making decisions about treatment options. There is an entire chapter on working with relationships with discussions of how infertility impacts couples and specific instruction in communication techniques and ways of strengthening your bond. This chapter lends itself especially well to couples but all of the chapters can be shared by couples. When I wrote this book I wanted to offer as many techniques as possible so have included work with thoughts, imagery, meridian tapping, meditation, cognitive therapy, breathing, journaling and more. Not every chapter or technique is for every person but there is a lot to choose from and something for everyone. It goes beyond basic stress reduction because it relates all techniques to specific fertility issues and also helps people understand and express their feelings.
Question: Therapy is your specialty. In what ways can therapy help couples that are dealing with infertility?
Answer: Infertility is a huge emotional challenge for couples. It can create depression, and anxiety. It you are dealing with infertility it can leave you feeling isolated from friends and families who don’t share your experience or who don’t seem to understand how to say and do the right thing. Infertility can be very lonely and very stressful. Having someone to talk to who listens can be helpful all by itself because it breaks down some of the isolation and allows a time and space to explore feelings, thoughts and options. Therapy helps people develop coping strategies, good communication and realistically optimistic ways of thinking. Mind-body technique integrated with the therapy, can give couples a sense of control, a way to reduce stress and pain, and a path to greater peace and deeper connection with themselves and with each other.
Question: There are several recent news articles linking stress with infertility issues. What are your thoughts?
Answer: I’m a long standing believe in the power of the mind to affect the body and vice versa which is really what the mind-body connection means, but, having said that I would never suggest to anyone that they are causing their infertility. People get pregnant under very stressful conditions all around the world. Also, people have fertility issues for different reasons. Not everyone is the same so what may be helpful in one instance may be less so in another. The truth is that we don’t have all of the answers yet but we have to act upon what we do know as well as we can. I like to go back to basics on this issue. We know that infertility is stressful and also that there have been several studies indicating a correlation between stress reduction and improved outcomes. If you are going through infertility, you are most likely investing a lot of money, time, and energy. If reducing stress has any chance of increasing your chances of success, it seems like something to try. The only side effect is giving you skills that will help you feel more peaceful and in charge.
Question: You’ve recently added a new Infertility Workbook coaching program. Sounds awesome - please tell us more about it!
Answer: The Infertility Workbook includes lots and lots of exercises to help people explore their own personal fertility issues and to learn techniques. It is designed to offer resources that people can use on their own. The process, however, can open the door to emotions, questions, or the need for support. On their own, people can get stuck. They may not know how to apply or practice the skills. They may want some encouragement or instruction as well as someone to listen and support them as they go through the book. They may want to deepen and improve their experience. That is where the coaching program comes in. I am here to help people as they go through the book. If I am coaching you and you are reading the chapter on relationships, for example, we can talk about your relationship specifically and I will help you. If you are trying to breath, or tap, or do a meditation, I can help you move through any obstacles and make your experience more successful. We can focus on any issues you might have or we can work through the chapters of the book together with you, your life, your concerns as the focus. I am working by phone, skype, as well as in the DC metro area. The program is flexible and anyone who is interested can contact me and we will explore what will work best.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barbara Blitzer, LCSW-C, MEd, is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and expert on mind-body techniques and their application to fertility. Formerly a faculty member at The Center for Mind Body Medicine in Washington, DC, she now works in private practice, with special focus on treating anxiety, depression, and infertility through talk therapy and mind/body approaches. She is available for individuals throughout the Washington, DC area in addition to offering services via telephone and SKYPE. She is a professional member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Resolve, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Greater Washington Clinical Society. Her work has been cited in the Washington Post, Washington Woman, Conceive Online,INCIID.org (The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination) and on several websites. If you would like to learn more about her private practice, or to learn about The Infertility Workbook coaching program, please visit www.barbarablitzer.com.