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Revisiting the use of ‘counselling’ as a means of preparing prospective parents to meet the emerging psychosocial needs of families that have used gamete donation

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Third party reproduction is an increasingly important part of family building but also challenges societal understanding of family and ‘kin’ relationships as being primarily hetero-normative and based on genetic connection. At the same time, understanding of the longer-term psycho-social implications of gamete donation is changing as knowledge grows. Research, professional and personal experiences demonstrate that a range of meanings can be triggered regarding relationships, identity and health matters that challenge normative views. This raises questions of how best to assist those contemplating this route to parenthood. With knowledge gained from research and practice over many years, we argue this requires a shift from focusing on assessment/evaluation of prospective parents and/or therapeutic work to a psycho-educational partnership approach offering help with managing relationships, thoughts and feelings and building strategies for healthy family functioning alongside sharing knowledge from research and experiences. Such approaches can also be appropriate for later professional interventions.
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Keywords: counselling; disclosure; donor conception; family; gamete donation; genetics; openness; psycho-educational approach

Affiliations: 1: University of York, UK 2: University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Appeared or available online: August 10, 2018

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