In the Fertility Centre, many couples who are infertile, find medical help for their chance to bear a child. But the path to this goal is not an easy one. The treatments and the associated conflicts are sometimes stressful, not only for the body but they also pose a challenge to the couple’s relationship. For this reason, the Dortmund, Siegen, Dorsten, and Wuppertal Fertility Centres, in cooperation with AWO Dortmund, offer psychosocial consultations, in which couples can find support during the journey.
Psychosocial counselling can be helpful for the following reasons:
- when dealing with the fact that you have problems conceiving your own children
- for possible psychological causes of infertility
- for the decision before and in preparation of a possible medical treatment of infertility
- for addressing burdensome circumstances during medical treatment
- for decision making, when you do not wish to undergo another attempt to become pregnant
- for supporting the grieving process and parting from the desire to have children
- for developing alternative values and goals for the partnership and a life without children
- if you decide to adopt a child
Since 2000, Ms. Bärbel Nellissen has worked as a qualified psychologist and psychological psychotherapist with couples affected by infertility and is a certified BkiD advisor [BKid is the German advisory network for the desire to have children]. You have the possibility to seek a consultation at the Dortmund Fertility Centre. Dipl.-Psych. Bärbel Nellissen, with her expertise will strive to find options together with you to asses your individual situation. What you discuss in these advisory consultations is confidential.
Dipl.-Psych. Bärbel Nellissen
Dortmund Fertility Centre
every Tuesday 8:30 AM – 1:30 PM
To make an appointment
call 0231 5575450 or send an e-mail to
When do couples seek advice from you?
Bärbel Nelissen: Most couples contact me when they have arrived at a crossroads. This can be the impending decision about whether or not to undergo a further treatment step or also the feeling of a lack of prospects, after treatment in the fertility clinic has not led to success. In these situations there are often conflicts between the partners. For instance, when one of the two partners would like to continue treatment but the other rejects this and is already beginning to think of an alternative, such as adoption. Here, it is important to work out a way that both can move forward together - something that is often more successful with professional support.
Not all couples who are treated in the Fertility Centre come to you. For whom does it make sense to seek advice?
Bärbel Nelissen: Usually, couples have already had a treatment. After what has often been years of hope and trepidation and the roller coaster of emotions that is linked to this, the women and men are looking for an opportunity to collect themselves and develop perspectives for the future. The issues are often existential questions of life, the purpose of one’s own existence, identity as a man and a woman – questions that become more urgent due to the crisis. Such intensive conversations also lead to tears and initiate painful processes. And not every couple can work through this by themselves.
Have you noticed difference in the way that men and women process this situation?
Bärbel Nelissen: Yes, absolutely, and even in the past ten years, during which the topic has become much more visible in society, nothing has changed. Women sometimes come here alone; men usually only come with their wives and often also come to see me primarily because of her – at least, ostensibly. While women are often very sad and desperate because their hopes of having children have not been fulfilled, men are often rather worried about their partner’s grief, although they themselves are of course also disappointed and sad. If men sense that they cannot help their female partner, they come along to the consultation meeting. It is often precisely this helplessness that really torments the men.
How many couples come to your consultations?
Bärbel Nelissen: It is not so easy to say. But over the years, the number of women and couples has increased because the inhibition threshold to seeking advice has decreased. The need is surely also somewhat higher. Around 40 percent of all women who receive treatment experience a period of depression. This can pass again very quickly, but during it, support certainly helps.
What can the consultation achieve?
Bärbel Nelissen: With many couples in my fertility consultation I noticed that they treat each other very caringly and that they often grow even closer during the crisis.. Psychological care can support this development. Even when the desire to have children cannot be fulfilled with medical help, these men and women come out of their crisis stronger and they then thus find it easier to process this desire that they might never be able to fulfil.