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Psychological Support

At the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health, we recognize that family building with fertility treatment services can affect people in many different ways.

Both individuals and couples often face emotional or personal challenges in their efforts to resolve their fertility issues and build a family. Our team has developed a range of services to provide you with the personalized emotional support you may need before, during, or even after your fertility treatment.

We offer counseling sessions to individuals and couples, guidance to connecting with supportive resources in the community, and educational material. We provide assistance in many important areas, including:

Personalized emotional support is an important part of any fertility journey.
  • Psychoeducation
  • Making treatment decisions
  • Managing stress
  • Coping with depression or anxiety
  • Accepting difficult situations
  • Managing relationship issues
  • Dealing with family and friends
  • Processing grief and loss
  • Providing end-of-treatment counseling

We also have expertise in counseling LGBTQIA+ couples and individuals, as well as single parents by choice. We are available to provide support with planning and decision-making for the family building process. 

Please note that we do not provide ongoing/weekly therapy sessions to patients. We often recommend ongoing counseling, and we can provide referrals to other UCSF clinics and to therapists in the community.

The Fertility Journey and Mental Health

What often makes the process of fertility treatment so challenging is not knowing when, or how, it will end. Many patients say the hardest part is not the shots or doctor visits, but the uncertainty that they will never be able to get pregnant or become a parent. While we cannot guarantee how the process will go or how it will end, we can offer you support and guide you toward helpful resources along the way. Many people will find a way to become parents after exploring a variety of available options. There can be comfort in knowing that all this uncertainty will eventually resolve. We are committed to providing support and guidance to you on your family-building journey.

We recommend you seek counseling when you notice:

  • Persistent sadness and tearfulness
  • Increased levels of anxiety or worry
  • Feeling isolated from others
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Change in appetite, weight, or sleep patterns
  • Increased feelings of bitterness or anger
  • Continuing feelings of pessimism, guilt or worthlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Infertility/the fertility treatment process affecting your normal functioning or your relationships with others

Our Team 

Dr. Lauri Pasch, Ph.D.

Dr. Lauri Pasch

Dr. Lauri Pasch, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco and has directed psychological services for the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health for 18 years. She received her doctorate in clinical health psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed a fellowship in behavioral medicine at UCSF. She is an accomplished NIH-funded scientist, practicing psychologist, and educator with expertise in women’s reproductive health and the use of assisted reproduction.

At the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health, she counsels individuals and couples regarding infertility, women’s reproductive health, and alternative family-building. She is also a member of the Board of Director of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and serves on the Editorial Board of Fertility and Sterility.

Sarah Holley, Ph.D.

Dr. Sarah Holley

Sarah Holley, Ph.D. is Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UCSF. Dr. Holley earned her doctorate in clinical science from the University of California, Berkeley and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF.

At the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health, she is available to provide support, consultation, and psychoeducational services to our patients. Dr. Holley has expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical-behavior therapy, and she incorporates strategies from these approaches to help patients cope with the stress often associated with family building via fertility treatment. 

To schedule an appointment with a member of the Psychological Services team, please contact your doctor’s nurse coordinator.