Psychological Evaluations

Fertility and Pre-Surgical Psychological Evaluations can be used as a tool to help physicians determine the readiness of patients to undergo certain procedures. This type of assessment is useful for individuals wanting to pursue bariatric surgery, or in any case in which a patient’s psychological preparedness for surgery or their ability to cope during recovery may be a concern.

In addition to pre-surgical bariatric evaluations, I offer evaluations specifically designed to assess psychological and emotional functioning in potential oocyte (egg) donors, sperm donors, surrogates, gestational carriers, and prospective parent(s) involved in fertility procedures. Determinations and recommendations are made using criteria from The American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Fertility-Related Psychological Evaluations and Therapy

Fertility-Related Evaluations and Psychotherapy

The decision of whether or not to start a family can be one of the most important we can make. When you are going through difficulties trying to create a family, it can feel as if the rug has been pulled from under you, or as if your life has been put on hold indefinitely. Struggling with infertility can have an effect on your emotional, physical, financial, and sexual wellbeing. It can also trigger significant feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, anxiety, grief and loss.

Planning to create a family can be one of the most stressful and rewarding journeys in your life.

I provide psychotherapy, psychological consultation, assessments and evaluations, education and referrals for those on the journey to family building. This may include those who are trying to conceive, dealing with pregnancy loss or difficulties deciding whether to keep or terminate a pregnancy, or post-partum depression; those considering or undergoing infertility treatments such as IUIs or IVFs, third-party reproduction using egg donation, surrogacy, egg freezing, single parenthood, or same sex families.

Therapy

When you desire to have a child in your life, difficulty conceiving can trigger some deep-seeded insecurities and fears. The process of coming to terms with and working through the issues around fertility is different for everyone. Feelings of loss, grief, self-doubt, anxiety, and loss of control are very common. Therapy will provide you with a safe, confidential and supportive place to express your thoughts and feelings and learn tools to manage your fears, disappointments, anxiety, etc. It can help you get clarification and assistance with the decisions you are facing. It can teach you stress management and relaxation techniques as well as other healthy ways to cope with the often unpredictable journey. Therapy can also help you prepare for single parenthood, prepare and deal with life without children, or explore what it means to have a child who is genetically not related to you.

Psychological Evaluation

Psychological factors present significant concerns when assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are needed, whether for the treatment of infertility or for nontraditional family building. Psychological evaluation of all parties involved is recommended when treatment involves gamete donation or the services of a gestational carrier.

  • Egg Donor or Sperm Donor Evaluation
  • Gestational Carrier (Surrogate) Evaluation
  • Intended Parent(s) Consultation and Evaluation

If you are considering any of the above options, your fertility clinic or doctor may require the donor or surrogate to go through a clinical interview, psychological evaluation/testing along with a written report in order to determine the suitability or appropriateness of the donor or surrogate. Additionally, it may be recommended for you (and your partner) to consult prior to proceeding with your family building plans. I’ve had the pleasure of performing many fertility-related evaluations for over a decade, and am well-versed in what is required for a successful outcome. My role is to help facilitate meetings between donors or surrogates and intended parents; as well as between known donors (ie siblings, etc) and recipients. This will be done in a safe, private, and non-judgmental atmosphere that allows for open discussions and psycho-education regarding the various potential issues.

Egg Donor or Surrogate

If you are interested in serving as an egg donor or surrogate, our aim will be to gather as much information as possible so that you and the recipient couple are well prepared. We will also try to determine whether or not you will follow-through, by not only asking about your feelings about serving as an egg donor/surrogate, but also by looking for patterns of stability in your past. The psychological evaluation is intended to assess the candidate’s:

  • Motivation for serving as a donor or carrier
  • Understanding and appreciation of the psychological and emotional implications involved
  • Understanding and appreciation of the time commitment and medical aspects of treatment involved
  • Perspectives about the future child, now and in the future
  • If the donor or carrier is previously known, considerations of the impact on the existing and future relationship
  • Personal and familiar mental health history
  • Current psychological and emotional stability
  • Preparedness for various cycle outcomes
  • Lifestyle factors

The evaluation also serves as an opportunity for psychoeducation and discussion about relevant topics, such as:

  • Preferences regarding the nature, frequency, and parameters of any contact with the parents or resulting offspring
  • Number of embryos to be transferred and potential for twins or multiple gestation
  • Decisions about remaining embryos

It is important to spend time discussing the ramifications of serving as an egg donor/surrogate with you so that you can learn enough about this process in order to make the right decision for you.

Recipient (Intended) Parent(s)

Clinical Interview with intended parent(s) is done in order to review the many aspects of assisted reproduction, which may include issues of boundaries, disclosure, expectations, loss and grief. There are many things to consider when using a surrogate, such as whether or not you will provide health insurance, or home support. It is a good idea to discuss what expectations you have with regards to a relationship with the surrogate both during and after a pregnancy. Discussing your thoughts and feelings about using a sperm or egg donor is important with regards to the possible implications on your relationships and/or other children/siblings. I will help guide you through this dialogue, and inform you so you can make the best decisions for this very important and life-altering event.

“Love is work made visible”

- Kahlil Gibran

Pre-Surgical Bariatric Evaluations

Bariatric Surgery Psychological Evaluations

Dr. Karin Schwartz specializes in helping clients struggling with binge eating, addictions, and obesity. She will teach you the skills that lead to freedom from yo-yo dieting and the safety/prison of addictions. By working with clients to develop practical skills, such as techniques for self-monitoring, self-awareness, calming/soothing, and relapse prevention, clients develop a healthier relationship with food and with themselves.

Dr. Schwartz has performed hundreds of pre-surgery bariatric evaluations for those patients desiring the lap-band, sleeve, or gastric bypass. Her evaluations provide a discovery of potential issues (concurrent mental illness, history of addiction, food addiction), in combination with an interventional approach to helping the client create new behavioral patterns for lasting healthy lifestyle changes.

In addition to pre-surgery screening, Dr. Schwartz also has extensive experience providing post-surgery support to clients who find that the mental component of change still hasn’t caught up with their physical change, after the surgery. She works with groups and individuals to find alternative methods of coping with problematic thoughts and feelings, and educates people about what is truly necessary for change.

Dr. Schwartz spent many years studying and developing strategies to help Weight Loss Surgery patients navigate the multitude of changes inherent in life post-surgery, addressing the emotional aspects of “breaking up with food,” and creating a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable over time. She believes that anyone that struggles with food addiction, no matter how they lose their weight (diet and exercise, physician-assisted protein diets, or any type of bariatric surgery) ends up in the same place: weight loss maintenance. Together, you will work to define exactly what that will mean in your life, and get the help to develop the insight and tools you need for long-term success.

For Bariatric Surgery patients who are struggling with Weight Regain, the work will focus on identifying the specific areas to address, so we can get you back on track as quickly as possible.

Psychological Evaluations

“Love is work made visible”

- Kahlil Gibran

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