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New edition of infertility counseling textbook caters to international audiences

When Linda Hammer Burns, Ph.D., helped edit the first edition of Infertility Counseling: A Comprehensive Textbook for Clinicians (Parthenon, 1999), she had no idea what a following it would have.

At professional gatherings, people would tell her how useful it was for their practice. In Japan, counselors used the book to develop a 90-hour certification course in infertility issues. Worldwide, the book became the “go-to” guide for reproductive medicine experts, physicians, genetic counselors, and mental health professionals who wanted to learn more about the psychological issues surrounding infertility and how to provide appropriate patient care. Many were affectionately calling it the “purple bible” of fertility counseling.

“When we first wrote it, there was no other book like it,” recalls Burns. “While a lot of books were talking about different aspects of fertility counseling, there wasn’t really a comprehensive work that could be used in the classroom or by professionals. Even though we knew it was filling a critical need, we couldn’t have anticipated that it would become the definitive text in the field.”

Now Burns and her coeditor, Sharon N. Covington, are working on a second edition of Infertility Counseling, scheduled for release in October by Cambridge University Press. Unlike the original work, the 800-page revised text will “internationalize” many aspects of fertility, exploring global perspectives on legal and ethical issues, cross-cultural approaches, third-party reproduction (such as egg and sperm donation), and alternative familybuilding including involuntary childlessness.

“Twenty years ago, when Sharon and I began working in this field, no one really understood the complex array of psychosocial issues affecting infertile individuals or the importance of infertility counseling as a profession,” Burns says. “Now it’s a respected field, and patients and providers regard it as an integral part of patient care.”