Authors pen professional guide on infertility

Published 5:09 pm Thursday, August 31, 2023

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A Walters State Community College professor hopes her new book will equip both individuals and therapists in dealing with a common, yet seldom discussed topic – pain related to infertility and reproductive loss.

“Working with Infertility and Grief: A Practical Guide for Helping Professionals,” grew out of the personal struggles of its three authors. Dr. Whitney Jarnagin, Dean of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Professor of Psychology at Walters State, was joined in the creation of the book with Dr. Denis Thomas, the first Faculty Director of the Center for Play Therapy and Expressive Arts at Lipscomb University. Joining the other two authors was the book’s third writer – Dr. Megan Herscher, Associate Professor of Counseling and Coordinator of the Clinical Mental Health Program at Carson-Newman University.

The trio leaned on each other during individual infertility and reproductive loss issues.

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“This is a very personal and private struggle,” said Jarnagin. “People don’t talk about it very much. This book grew out of our desire to find a purpose for this part of our journey.”

Working with Infertility and Grief is the first book of its kind targeting counselors, doctors, social workers and anyone else in the helping field. The book contains materials for a 12-week group therapy session.

Jarnagin says the book will help anyone working with clients who are suffering through infertility or miscarriage while helping individuals who are seeking more knowledge about the subject.

“Society doesn’t acknowledge this as a loss. For the person experiencing infertility, it’s a very real loss. Most people, including therapists do not realize what the challenges of healing are for those suffering with these issues. Those working through infertility over time and those suffering multiple miscarriages can suffer from anxiety, depression and even PTSD,” she said.

The first section of the book is devoted to the biological, psychological and social challenges of infertility while the second section looks at how infertility affects sub-groups, including men. The final section is focused on healing and evidence-based practices.

Jarnagin advises those with loved ones dealing with infertility to simply say something encouraging. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

“One of the best things to say is ‘I am sorry you are going through this and I am here for you.’”