For individuals and couples who cannot have the children they desire, there are considerable psychosocial implications. These implications will be experienced at the personal, interpersonal (family and wider networks), and social levels. As a result of the growing recognition of these psychosocial implications, counseling services associated with reproduction are being provided. However, most of these services tend to be associated with the new reproductive technology programs that have developed to respond to infertility. Counseling services for individuals and couples during and after infertility diagnosis and while they are considering treatment options also need to be provided.
The word "counseling" means different things to different people. In an attempt to clarify the various components of counseling, the Asche Committee ( 1985), dealing with issues emerging from developments in reproductive technology in Australia, noted that counseling often refers to at least three activities: information-giving and discussion, support and therapy, and selection/screening. Four types of counseling are identified in the British report of the King's Fund Centre Counselling Committee ( 1991): information, "implications support," and therapeutic counseling. The Australian National Bioethics Consultative Committee's Issues Paper on Infertility Counselling ( 1990) also lists four components: information, decisionmaking, support, and "therapeutic." The various components identified by these committees and papers refer to quite different functions,