PFC Spotlight - My Passion Followed Pain

Posted on May 21, 2006 by Inception Fertility

As many of us do, I began a career in one area and discovered my true passion along the way. I began as a teacher in Long Island. After working for several years as a teacher for students in special education, I moved to San Francisco in 1978. During my early years in California, I continued to teach adolescents with special needs. I soon realized that what I enjoyed most of all was not teaching the classes, but the informal counseling and group sessions that happened outside of the normal classroom experience. This motivated me to return to the classroom for a Marriage and Family Therapist's (MFT) degree. Once I was licensed in 1984, I worked for a few more years in the school system as a counselor for Special Education students. Concomitantly, I began a private practice counseling women and couples. Both counseling settings were rewarding. By the early 1990's, after being inspired by work I did with another therapist, I left the school system and began training other counselors. It was exciting and a stimulating change of pace. During this time I was going through some personal challenges. My husband and I had difficulty conceiving and subsequently underwent infertility treatments. Finally we became parents through adoption, a wonderful family building solution! After the adoption, I took some time off from work to enjoy our daughter. Our daughter, adopted at birth, is a never-ending source of joy for both of us. My passion followed my pain. During our trials with infertility we learned of Resolve and joined a support group. This greatly diminished our feeling of isolation. I went on to do adoption home studies, join the Board of Resolve of Northern California and lead support groups. Eventually, through word of mouth and referrals from Resolve, I began counseling infertility couples. I have remained active in Resolve, coordinating their support services while on the board, speaking at conferences and agreeing to be the Keynote speaker in 1995. This year, 2006, I have been asked to sit on Resolve's National Mental Health Advisory Board. My career at Pacific Fertility Center began over 8 years ago with a referral from a colleague who knew of my work with infertility patients. About that same time I began attending the ASRM Mental Health Professional Group (ASRM-MHPG) conferences. In 2001 I became co-chair of Internet Integration Task Force to organize a worldwide online community of therapists for the group (ASRM-MHPG). I find the topics tackled by this professional group fascinating. It assists in developing guidelines for the infertility industry, especially on the many ethical issues surrounding egg donation as well as guidelines and protocols for protecting the donors and the recipients. As an active member of the MHPG community, I have served as secretary/treasurer, newsletter editor, program chair for the mental health portion of the ASRM conference in 2005 and am in the 3rd year sitting on the executive committee. I am looking forward to my new responsibilities as the 2006-7 chair of ASRM's MHPG. In general, this group allows me to learn from the mostly PhD/research oriented group and communicate with therapists dealing with infertility issues from all over the world. My involvement with this research oriented group has piqued my interest in developing a study at Pacific Fertility Center which would further our understanding of stress as it relates to infertility. -- Peggy Orlin, MFT

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