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.
Further information can be obtained by contacting:
Holly Yager and Sharna Cohen
Counselling SIG Co-Chairs
Holly Yager, M.Ed., Clinical Counsellor – 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. - 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 Chair from 2015-18 and is the current CSIG Co-Chair.
Mary Howlett-Nero, BA, MSW - Vice-Chair
Mary Howlett Nero is a Registered Social Worker with a Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto. Mary has been in private practice as an Approved Adoption Practitioner since 1997 and has assisted hundreds of families with private domestic, international and public adoptions. Since 2010, she has also worked for Beginnings Family Services running their Embryo Donation Program. She provides assessments, counselling and support to donors and intended parents and has worked with fertility clinics from all across Canada. Her passion is to be child focused in her practice and to promote openness for all embryo donation plans. Mary is a member of The College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, the Ontario Association of Social Workers, the Ontario Association of Private Adoption Practitioners, and of the Counselling Special Interest Group (CSIG) of CFAS.
Catherine Stafford, M.Ed., C.Psych. - Communications Chair
Catherine Stafford is a psychologist based in Ottawa, Ontario. She specializes in Reproductive Health Psychology and consults with individuals, couples, and fertility clinics across Ontario and Quebec. She is a graduate of McGill University and has been working in the field for over 20 years.
Young Tae Kim, BA, MSW, RSW - Education Chair
Young Kim is a registered social worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). Young completed his B.A. Honours in Psychology at York University and earned his Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto. Young works in a hospital seating and has a private practice. He is currently working full-time at the Fertility Clinic, London Health Sciences Centre as a social worker. He is actively involved with the Quality Care and Patient Safety Committee and Perinatal Loss Committee at the hospital. He is dedicated to supporting and helping couples and/or individuals who are facing a challenging time with the fertility journey. He is an active member of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) and the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OSAW).