When you, or someone close to you, is diagnosed with cancer it is usual to feel distressed. Feelings of worry, fear, anger, sadness and helplessness (to name but a few) are common and are very normal.
There are many ways people can find support. These can include family, friends, your cancer team, palliative care team, self-help or support groups.
However, you may feel you need more support. You may feel you have got ‘stuck’ in some way, are struggling with feelings or finding it hard to cope with day-to-day life. If you feel like this it may be helpful to meet up with a Clinical Psychologist or Counsellor.
What are Clinical Psychologists and Counsellors?
In this service, Clinical Psychologists and Counsellors work alongside each other. They are trained in assessment and treatment of psychological/ emotional difficulties, which they believe happen as a result of distressing life experiences. Clinical Psychologists and Counsellors are different to psychiatrists as they cannot prescribe medication or admit people into hospital. The team within this service are all registered with the Health Care Professions Council or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
What might this service be able to offer me?
We offer therapy to people living with the impact of cancer to help them to feel more able to cope with their situation/difficulties. There are different sorts of psychological therapy – each gives you time to talk through thoughts, feelings and other difficulties. Therapy aims to help you to build on your existing coping strategies so you feel more able to deal with your situation.
The team can help with:
Why have I been given this leaflet?
If a member of your healthcare team has given you this leaflet they may have recognised that your situation is difficult, that you appeared distressed, or that they simply wanted you to know that the service is available.
Seeing a psychologist or counsellor is just like seeing any other health professional. It is an opportunity to talk with someone trained in emotional wellbeing. It does not mean that you are “weak” or “going mad”. Many people who have seen a psychologist or counsellor say it is helpful to discuss their situation in confidence with someone outside the family.
What if you would like a referral to this service?
Ask your Clinical Nurse Specialist, your cancer team, or GP to refer you. You will be contacted by our team to arrange an appointment 1-3 weeks after we receive your referral. Your appointment will normally be at Velindre Cancer Centre.
The service is available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. There are no costs involved. If you require hospital transport please contact the number on the back of this leaflet.
What will happen when I meet with a Clinical Psychologist?
The first meeting is for you to get to know the psychologist/counsellor and to discuss what you would like help with. You can ask how psychological therapy could help you. This usually lasts about 50 minutes. You can be seen by yourself, with your partner, friend or with your whole family.
At the end of the first meeting, you can decide whether to meet again and how often. You will normally be offered between 1-6 sessions, or more if needed. At any time, if you no longer need an appointment please let the psychologist/counsellor know.
Some people have found it particularly useful to share experiences with others going through similar difficulties so group sessions are also available.
Your psychologist/counsellor may make short notes about the work you do together. These notes are confidential and are not shown to other professionals.
They may also write in your medical notes and may share some information with other professionals closely involved in your care (including your GP). This is to let them know you are working together and to improve the care and support you receive. You can ask to have a copy of all letters written about you.
Please tell your psychologist/counsellor what you would and would not like shared with other health professionals or if you have any concerns about confidentiality.
However, if your psychologist/counsellor is worried that you or someone else is at risk of harm, they have a duty of care to pass this information on to other services (e.g. your GP) to make sure you/they receive the support you need.
What if I am not satisfied with the service I receive?
If you have concerns about the service you receive from our service, please discuss them first with the member of our staff supporting you. Alternatively, please contact Dr Caroline Coffey, Macmillan Consultant Clinical Psychologist on the details below.
If this does not address your concerns, please contact:
Clinical Psychology Service
Velindre Cancer Centre
Tel: 02920 196141
For more information about the Clinical Psychology Service you can contact us on the above number.