How to become an infertility counsellor

How you can become an infertility counsellor

In the main we would recommend that anyone interested in working in infertility counselling should gain at least two years general counselling experience. That means working as a practising, qualified, accredited counsellor. BICA facilitates a Foundation Course for appropriately experienced counsellors prior to working in a Licensed Clinic. Like counselling people with cancer or bereavement counselling,infertility counselling is really ‘heavy end’ work. Also, infertility counselling is very much a specialism with the added challenge of workiing within the complex environment of a licensed HFEA clinic. With the exception of post-adoption birth records counselling, infertility counselling is the only counselling specialism for which there is a specific legislative requirement, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. So two years in general counselling will enable you to get your counselling ‘feet under the table’ and used to working with the BACP [or similar] code of ethics, before learning about the fertility field.

Counselling placements

Counselling in a Licensed Centre (Licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority or HFEA) is complicated, so there are very few placements on offer. You can approach your local clinics (found on the HFEA website, www.HFEA.gov.uk), but most of them prefer to have someone counselling two years post qualification. All counselling staff (as for any staff who work in a Licensed Clinic) have to be put on the Clinic’s License for the HFEA.

It is important that if you do manage to get a placement in a Licensed Centre that you think carefully about who will supervise you, as it can be helpful to get a qualified supervisor with some broad knowledge of infertility issues and not just personal knowledge.

Permanent jobs

There are about 100 Licensed Clinics in the UK providing investigations and treatment for people with fertility problems. Each Clinic has to have an Independent infertility counsellor as a member of staff as part of their License requirements. Most work within the Clinic setting, some work in their own premises. Finding a permanent job is NOT easy. Sometimes they are advertised in Therapy Today, sometimes they are advertised locally or through the NHS job site. Occasionally the BICA Journal (Journal for Fertility Counselling) may have jobs advertised, or you can look on the BICA website. If you are considering trying to get a job as an infertility counsellor it could be helpful if you have experience working in different settings, such as Relate or Marriage Care, Cruse, Bereavement Centres, or other independent counselling agencies. All experience is valuable.

Qualifications for working in a licenced clinic

Most Clinics want qualified and experienced counsellors to work in this very demanding area of work. It is preferable that you have a Diploma in Counselling or a higher qualification. Please refer to the HFEA website and the Code of Practice for a list of qualifications. BICA has introduced its own accreditation scheme for all infertility counsellors, which became mandatory in licensed clinics from 2009. This is an accreditation scheme that you can participate in once you are working within the Clinic setting. Please see reference elsewhere on the BICA website.

Attending BICA training courses

Go to Training for details.

The trainers aim to specify for whom each training event is suited. Some of the courses are just for infertility counsellors, whereas some other courses are for any member of staff working in a Licensed setting. Please contact by email the main trainer (name always given with the course) for further information.

For more information contact info@www.bica.net