The experience of infertility is often highly stressful, and involves more than just medical issues. Infertility Counsellors respond to the complex social, psychological and ethical dimensions of Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR). They provide a range of services including individual, marital and group counselling, emotional support, assistance with decision-making, and referral to community resources. Many counsellors are knowledgeable about alternative options such as Donor Conception, Surrogacy or Adoption. They may also be actively involved in research and policy development. Most AHR clinics in Canada require that implications counselling be provided to patients, donors and gestational carriers involved in fertility treatment.
The Counselling Special Interest Group (CSIG) has been established to foster collaboration and exchange between Canadian counsellors working in this field, and to promote a high standard of professional counselling. CSIG also aims to facilitate education and professional development opportunities amongst members. CSIG is a member group of the International Infertility Counselling Organisation (IICO), a global network of infertility counselling associations.
The annual business meeting of CSIG is held each fall in conjunction with the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society conference. Counselling professionals are strongly encouraged to attend the annual meeting to network with colleagues in the field, participate in workshops and presentations, and keep abreast of new developments in Assisted Human Reproduction.
Membership of CSIG is open to all members of CFAS. The executive committee of the CSIG is comprised of members with academic credentials and clinical training in a counselling discipline such as Psychology, Social Work, Psychotherapy, Marital Therapy or Counselling.
Mary Howlett-Nero, BA, MSW - Chair
Mary Howlett Nero has been working as an Approved Adoption Practitioner with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services since 1997 and has maintained a private practice in which she has assisted hundreds of families with private domestic, international and public adoptions. In 2009, Mary joined Beginnings Family Services as their Adoption Practitioner. In 2010, she took on the role of managing the agency’s newly formed open (not anonymous) Embryo Donation Program and over the last decade has assisted many families across Canada with donating and receiving embryos. Mary is a registered member of the Ontario College of Social Workers (OCSWSSW), of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS).
Dara Roth Edney, BA, BSW, MSW, RSW - Vice-Chair
Dara Roth Edney is a Reproductive Counsellor, practicing for more than 2 decades and offering supports in family building, grief counselling, stress reduction and anxiety management. She counsels people dealing with infertility and loss, as well those using assisted reproduction due to sexual orientation, gender identity, relationship status or underlying medical conditions. She conducts assessments for donors and surrogates, and facilitates infertility and LGBTQ2+ peer support groups. Dara works closely with professional and community organizations, and is a regularly invited speaker and consultant. She is involved in Canadian government consultations, is active in industry research and sits on the Ethics Committee of a large Toronto fertility clinic. She is a Registered Member of the College of Social Workers (OCSWSSW) and the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW), as well as a member of the Counselling Special Interest Group (CSIG) of CFAS, currently holding the position of Vice-Chair, and the Mental Health Professionals Group (MHPG) of ASRM.
Personally, after many years of infertility, loss and IVF, Dara became a parent through surrogacy and now has two daughters, each carried by a different (and wonderful) gestational carrier.
Vince Londini, B.A., B.Sc., MBA - Secretary
Vince Londini is Dad to three sperm-donor conceived children ages 16, 14, and 11. Since 2010, Vince has led Donor Conception Canada, providing peer-led support groups helping families embrace openness, disclosure, and normalcy. In addition to his lived-experience with IVF and donor conception, Vince draws on an extensive background as a public speaker and consultant.
Holly Yager, M.Ed., Clinical Counsellor – Past Co-Chair
Holly Yager is a Canadian Certified Counsellor and a Registered Clinical Counsellor in Vancouver, BC. Originally from Winnipeg, Holly has a B.A. Advanced in Psychology from the University of Manitoba. In the 90s, Holly moved to Vancouver where she earned a M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology from the University of British Columbia.
Holly works in both private practice and in a hospital setting, where she provides therapy and support to individuals, couples, and groups in the areas of third-party reproduction, assisted conception, infertility, perinatal loss, reproductive mental health, sexual health, and chronic pelvic pain.
Holly is a member of the mental health professionals group (MHPG) of ASRM and of the Counselling Special Interest group (CSIG) of CFAS. Holly is a member of the CSIG Executive Committee, serving as Communications Chair (2013-2016) and Vice-Chair (2015- current). Holly is on several committees, including one for the standardization of third-party reproduction reporting for CSIG members.
Sharna Cohen, M.Ed. - Past Co-Chair
Sharna Cohen, M.Ed., RSW is a Reproductive Mental Health Counsellor with 40 years of experience as a Family and Individual Mental Health Counsellor, Supervisor and Manager. She was a pioneer of Walk-in Counselling in Ontario. At CReATe Fertility Centre for the past 9 years, she has provided counselling, education and support for intended parents related to fertility challenges and treatment, as well as implications counselling and assessment of egg donors and surrogates. Sharna is also a member of the CReATe Ethics Committee. Sharna was the CFAS CSIG Education