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FAQ

What do clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors do?

Psychology is the scientific study of people, the mind and behaviour. A clinical psychologist uses a research-based understanding of how people think, feel and behave in order to help people who are distressed. They have training in a variety of psychological approaches that can help when people are having difficult thoughts or feelings that are affecting their wellbeing and making it harder to do the things they need or want to do. The clinical psychologists working in our hospitals specialise in helping people affected by physical problems, illness or injury. They also undertake research and provide training and supervision for other healthcare staff in order to improve the experience for patients and families. They are all registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Psychotherapistsand counsellorsare trained to listen to a person's problems to try to find out what's causing them and to help find a solution. All of our psychotherapists and counsellors are members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)  or the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

Clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors are not medically trained and do not give mental health diagnoses or prescribe medication (such as anti-depressants); psychiatristsare trained to do that. Please contact the Liaison Psychiatry team if you, or a family member, need support with any of the following:

  • physical symptoms as a result of mental health problems;
  • self-harm and suicidal behaviour;
  • psychotropic prescribing in physical illness.

How can Psychological Health Services help me or my child?

Psychological Health Services can help with issues such as:

•             adjusting to living with a condition, the effects of treatment, an injury or a health-related loss;

•             making difficult health-related decisions and coming to terms with change; 

•             preparing for medical procedures (e.g. blood tests, injections, scans);

•             making sense of how you and/or your family member feel;

•             finding ways to deal with feeling worried, sad, afraid or angry;

•             finding ways to solve problems, using your family's strengths and skills;

•             helping you and/or your family to find ways to feel more confident and in control;

•             learning techniques, such as relaxation, that make it easier to cope with pain and treatments; and

•             dealing with difficulties with your relationships or difficult family dynamics as a result of a health condition or treatment.

Every situation is different and is assessed individually. The first meeting is an opportunity for you to discuss with a member of the team what might be helpful for your family in managing any emotional or personal difficulties you may be experiencing as a result of attending hospital

How can I arrange an appointment with Psychological Health Services?

If psychological health services are available for the health condition that affects you or the clinical service you are using, you can arrange to meet with one of the team by asking any member of your healthcare team (i.e. consultant, doctor, nurse, occupational therapist, or physiotherapist) to make a referral on your behalf. Psychological Health Services will then contact you by telephone or arrange to meet you in the hospital if you are currently there.

What will happen during the first appointment/meeting?

We can see you individually or with partners or other family members, depending on what you prefer. If you are an outpatient, you will meet in a therapy room at one of the hospitals. If you are an inpatient, we will aim to visit you on the ward/unit at a time that offers as much privacy as possible.

Every person's situation is different and is assessed individually. The first meeting is an opportunity for you to discuss with member of our team what might be helpful for you, and your family, in managing any emotional or personal difficulties you may be experiencing as a result of an illness. injury or physical problem. This is likely to involve a detailed discussion about your present difficulties, including their effect on your daily life, how and when they arose, as well as considering aspects of your life before your diagnosis. We will work with you to reach an understanding of your problems and will discuss with you appropriate ways forward to reduce or resolve your difficulties.

You do not need to bring anything with you to your appointments with us and there are no costs involved.

How long will Psychological Health Services be involved with my/my family member's care?

Sometimes, it may be enough to meet with one of us once or twice for you to feel you can resolve the difficulty or find new ways of dealing with it. It may be that you or your family member are only treated at the hospital for a short while, in which case we can put you in touch with services locally to you that may be able to help once you are home. However, it may be possible and beneficial to meet regularly with one of our team over a longer period of time. This will be negotiated with you when you meet and reviewed regularly as you go along.

What happens to the information I share with you?

We work as members of multidisciplinary care teams and communicate regularly with them to provide the best care to your family. This means that some information may be shared with other staff who are closely involved with your/your family member's care, if it is appropriate and helpful to do so.

If there is reason to think that there is a risk of harm to you or others, this information may need to be passed on to other people. We will talk to you about this first whenever possible. If there is something that you tell us that you do not want us to share with anyone, please let us know. We will always try to make sure that information is then kept confidential.

We will keep our own notes about any conversations we have with you or your family member, which are kept securely and confidentially within Psychological Health Services. These notes are to help the person working with you to remember the details of the concerns you have discussed with them and the plans they have agreed with you. They may also write brief entries in medical notes or write letters to members of healthcare teams (e.g. GP, Consultant) to communicate with the wider team about the work they have done with you/your family member.

If you have any concerns, or want to know more, about the information that is likely to be shared about your/your family member's care, please talk to us about this.

I have been asked if I would like Psychological Health Services to be involved in my/my family member's care but I'm not sure why - what should I do?

If a member of your care team has talked to you about Psychological Health Services, it does not mean that they think your family is not coping or that you "need help". It may be that they recognise that your situation is difficult, that you or your child appeared distressed, or that they simply wanted you to be aware that these services existed for future reference.

If it was suggested that you might want a referral to Psychological Health Services but you feel after reading this information that you do not want to have an appointment with them at this time, please tell the member of the team who discussed us with you that you do not want them to make a referral on your behalf. The decision to use Psychological Health Services is entirely up to you and, if you decide not to, this will not affect your healthcare in any way.