Emotional Support & Counseling

For donation & surrogacy

Navigating the complex emotional, medical, legal, and ethical choices involved with third-party fertility treatment is nothing short of heroic. Your journey to create a family has probably been challenging already – perhaps including months and years of fertility treatment, expenses, frustration, and also determination that kept you moving forward.

Whether you are a same-sex or heterosexual couple considering third-party parenting, RSC will support you emotionally as well as medically.

Part of the broad base of support for our patients involved in third-party fertility treatment includes psychological evaluation. RSC requires that patients, donors – if known, surrogates or gestational carriers all participate in some psychological counseling, in addition to extensive medical screening.

Fertility treatment in general, and third party parenting especially, can affect how you see yourself, your sexual relations, your primary relationship, your relationships with family, friends, and your extended community. RSC will guide you to qualified therapists who understand this new terrain and can gently guide you toward more comfort, understanding, and communication throughout the journey.

Fertility treatment’s emotional process

  • The process of clarifying your deepest values and selecting appropriate donors, surrogates, or gestational carriers is profound and among the most important decisions you will ever make.
  • Couples often have different coping styles that may seem more exaggerated and difficult to resolve during treatment.
  • Individual attitudes toward treatment can cause friction within your relationship. For example, one partner may want to pursue all options, while the other may not want to be as aggressive. Fertility treatments performed primarily on the woman can create unequal emotional and physical burdens that can strain the relationship.
  • Depression, anger, anxiety, frustration, irritability, and grief are normal responses to fertility treatment.
  • Hormones have profound effects on emotion, so treatments that send hormone levels shooting up and down may magnify the turmoil.

Counseling supports treatment

  • The best programs like RSC build psychological support systems into their fertility treatment program. Your doctor will recommend therapists who specialize in fertility care and third party reproduction.
  • Professional counseling can ease the emotional stress and may even improve the odds of conceiving a child. Researchers found that couples who participate in group counseling sessions are more likely to get pregnant than couples who did not. It is not clear whether the counseling sessions caused the difference, whether the participants were more likely to try high-tech treatments because of the support, or whether it was just a coincidence.
  • Most people end treatment because they run out of emotional energy, not money. Couples may find it difficult to make decisions about alternative treatments or to end treatment. Counseling may help the couple press on – or realize when it’s time to stop treatment.

Counseling resources

RESOLVE is a national support organization for couples with infertility. Resolve has an active presence in the Bay Area. View their ongoing local support groups at resolve.org.

Several counselors in the Bay Area also host local support groups where those managing infertility can come together. Please contact one of the following counselors if you are interested in learning more about a particular meeting.

  • Qin Fan, PsyD, (415) 595-8577, hosts a support group in San Francisco
  • Theresa Fleury, PhD, (510) 334-1663, hosts a support group in Oakland
  • Maria Rivas-Wolf, MFT, (650) 208-9815, hosts a support group in San Mateo on the fourth Thursday of every month.

Below is a list of some of the qualified resources and counselors in the Bay Area.

Macy Schoenthaler, MFT
RSC Third Party In-House Counselor
Appointments: Orinda or San Ramon
100 Park Pl., Suite 200
San Ramon, CA 94583
(925) 973-5018
Amy Blanchard, Ph.D.
10062 Pasadena Ave Cupertino, CA 95014
(650) 823-1157
Joelle Ehre, LMFT
3863 Howe Street
Oakland, CA 94611
(510) 788-0804
Nancy Boughey, LCSW
2220 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
610 D Street
San Rafael, CA 94301
(415) 457- 3959
Lynn Brokenshire, MFT
20688 Fourth Street
Saratoga, CA 95070
(408) 998-0568
Madeline Feingold, Ph.D.
5665 College Avenue, Suite 240-C
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 540-8715
[email protected]
Jennifer McCollum, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Orinda, CA 94563
302 Village Square
(925) 386-6037
Bonnie Karmiol, LCSW
913 San Ramon Valley Blvd, Ste 280
Danville, CA  94526
(925) 830-1833
Theresa M. Fleury, Ph.D.
5665 College Ave. Suite 340B
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 334-1663
Ellie Schwartzman, Ph.D.
4283 Piedmont Avenue #E7
Oakland, CA 94611
(510) 869‐1339
Mary Rodecker, Ph.D.
Palo Alto & San Francisco
935 Middlefield Rd
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 321‐9881
Penny Donnelly, RN, MFT
935 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto, CA
(650) 504‐4290
Michelle Sicula, MFT
3036 Regent Street, Berkeley
870 Markey Street, San Francisco
(510) 457‐1246
Natasha Edelhaus, LMFT
Services Tri Valley California Area
[email protected]
(781) 864-0539
Qin Fan, Psy.D.
870 Market Street, Ste. 659
San Francisco, CA 94102
*Speaks Mandarin
Annie Wright, MA, MFTI
2820 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Helga Fasching, Psy.D.
9 Funston Ave, The Presidio
San Francisco, CA
3030 Bridgeway Ste 233
Sausalito, CA
(415) 505‐0799
Maria Rivas-Wolf, MFT
Reproductive & Maternal Mental Health
215 N. San Mateo Dr. #4 San Mateo, CA. 94401
[email protected]

NOTE: RSC does not recommend or endorse any vendor, physician, tests, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on this referral list. No representation or warranty is made, either expressly or tacitly, for the completeness or correctness of the information contained herein.