Counselling and Support

Creating a family is not only a medical matter. Infertility brings with it much emotional stress and usually invades every aspect of a person's life. Having a baby can also be an emotionally charged event with many stresses and anxieties along the way.

Infertility involves a series of losses - loss of hopes and dreams, loss of control, loss of a positive self-image, loss of privacy, loss of a feeling of connectedness and belonging and many more. Although these losses are real, they are invisible to others so often people experiencing infertility feel lonely and isolated from friends, family and sometimes from each other. Treatment itself may be a challenge for some people.

At Fertility Associates we recognise the major impact and distress experienced by people who need assistance to create and complete families. Although all our medical and nursing staff are trained to provide support, Fertility Associates also has professional counsellors.

Counsellors shown in the photo above from left to right: Elisabeth Money, Joi Ellis, Margaret Stanley-Hunt, Sue Saunders and Winnie Duggan.


What do counsellors do?

A counsellor can help a couple or an individual feel less alone and can assist people with finding ways to cope with the emotional hurt of infertility. People may decide to talk with a counsellor at different points of their experience.


  • when first seeking assistance to become pregnant
  • when wondering what could help
  • when preparing to begin a particular treatment such as IVF
  • when undecided as to what to do
  • at times of particular crisis
  • when the stress and strain feel too much
  • if a pregnancy is not on-going
  • if difficulties occur in relationships
  • when looking at alternative ways to form a family or to stop treatment
  • when seeking more information
  • when needing to prepare for applications for approval to the National Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technologies
  • when thinking about being a donor or a surrogate, or about using these services

The purpose of counselling will be different for each of these and counsellors use a variety of approaches to address particular needs.

Many people are a bit hesitant about the idea of "counselling" but one of the most common comments returned on our patient questionnaires is how valuable it was seeing a counsellor.

The counselling service is available to anyone independently of the medical services.

Counsellors are also available to talk to other professional or community groups about the emotional aspects of infertility. They will run training programmes for professional groups such as practice nurses, midwives, radiologists and GPs. They are able to assist with parenting issues after infertility and can act as facilitators for relevant self-help or education support networks.

We also work closely with Fertility New Zealand, a support network for those who face the challenges of infertility. 


Who are the counsellors?

Joi Ellis, Auckland

Joi initially trained as a teacher and then became a social worker at National Women's Hospital in the 1980s where she provided a counselling service for people experiencing infertility. She joined Fertility Associates in 1987 as a founding staff member. She is a registered member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers, a founding member of the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association and a founding member of the Infertility Society now referred to as Fertility New Zealand. Joi is a psychosocial representitive on the Fertility Society of Australia Council.

Elisabeth Money
, Auckland

Elisabeth joined Fertility Associates in 2001. She is a clinical psychologist with many years of experience in helping people cope with stress, anxiety, depression, grief and trauma. Elisabeth is a member of the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists and the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association.

Margaret Stanley-Hunt, Wellington

Margaret has worked as an infertility counsellor with Fertility Associates in Wellington since 1996. She trained in clinical psychology at the University of Otago and is a member of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors and the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association. Margaret is Privacy Officer for the Fertility Associates clinics.

Winnie Duggan, Wellington

Winnie joined Fertility Associates in Wellington as an infertility counsellor in 1995 and was trained at Massey University as a Counsellor. She enjoys facilitating the IVF education workshops and helps facilitate some of the special interest groups for Fertility NZ in Wellington. Winnie is a member of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors and the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association.

Sue Saunders, Hamilton

Sue is the counsellor at Fertility Associates in Hamilton. She has been associated with the fertility field for many years in a variety of ways. Sue has been a long-term member of Fertility New Zealand, playing an active role on the executive for some years. She contributes to the educational aspect of Fertility New Zealand through workshops and writing. She is the author of 'Infertility A Guide for New Zealanders'. Sue is a member of both the New Zealand Association of Counsellors and also the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association.

Anne Ott, Christchurch

Anne completed her Graduate Diploma in Social Work at Canterbury University in 2002 and worked part-time as a lecturer at Canterbury University and as a social worker at Christchurch Women’s Hospital.  With an interest in supporting women with health issues that affect fertility, Anne began working at the Christchurch Clinic in 2009 after completing a certificate in counselling.  Anne is a member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers and a member of the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association.