What is a Clinical Psychologist?
Clinical psychologists have extensive, doctorate level training in assessing a range of psychological difficulties and determining the most appropriate form of help, as well as providing a range of psychological therapies. They are registered with and regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Many of them, including myself, are registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS), the representative body for psychologists in the UK. Clinical Psychologist is a protected title and only those with the doctorate qualification are entitled to use it. You can check my registration details using the following links: http://www.hpc-uk.org/check & http://www.bps.org.uk/bpslegacy/lcm
Why should I choose a Clinical Psychologist?
As a clinical psychologist I am trained to use evidence based therapies, based on my doctorate level training as a ‘scientist-practitioner’. I am trained across the lifespan and can therefore work with any age group, based on my training and experience from across settings in the NHS. I am regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and am bound to regulations set by the British Psychological Society (BPS).
What will happen in our first meeting(s)?
In the first appointment, you will have an opportunity to talk about your concerns, including how the problem developed, how long you have been concerned and what you have already tried to overcome it. You will be able to express your hopes and goals for psychological therapy.
I will work to identify the problem and what might be contributing to it during the first one or two meetings. Once I have done this (‘initial assessment’), I will recommend the most appropriate next steps (‘intervention plan’). After the initial assessment, there is no obligation to continue for therapy / intervention. Meeting will help you decide whether working together with me is something you would like to do.
To allow parents/carers to talk freely, the first appointment can be attended without the child. In the second appointment, the child will be invited to attend with their parents/carers to find out about their perspective. This can be done by talking, listening, playing and drawing.
Will clients always continue for therapy?
The initial assessment allows us to decide whether therapy with me is the most appropriate next step. I will not always see clients for therapy, I practice within my limits of competence and will refer clients to another service if I feel this would be more appropriate.
How many therapy sessions will I need?
This depends on your individual circumstances. There is no minimum or maximum number of sessions clients can be seen for. Most clients are seen for 6-12 sessions, however sometimes more sessions are required. Sometimes one off sessions are enough, for example, when it is agreed that recommendations for self-help or a referral to another service is required.
Will anyone need to know I have come to see you?
You don’t need a GP referral to make an appointment with a private clinical psychologist.
I sometimes specifically recommend that clients see their GP before engaging in psychological therapy. This allows for any underlying medical problems to be excluded that may explain your current difficulties. It also allows us all to understand your physical and mental wellbeing in the context of all the available information.
I often recommend that I inform the client’s GP by writing them a brief letter about the assessment and agreed plans forward, with the client’s consent.
Will our conversation be kept confidential?
Yes, the sessions will remain confidential, which generally means I cannot discuss my clients with any third parties without their consent. I maintain confidentiality in accordance to the British Psychological Society (BPS) ‘Generic Professional Practice Guidelines’. All record keeping, such as session notes (short summaries about what is discussed in session) will be done in accordance to the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct. In accordance to the professional regulation, I receive regular supervision with another clinical psychologist, who abides by the same standards for confidentiality. The session notes will be kept in a locked cabinet between sessions.
Exceptions to Confidentiality: The conversations will be kept confidential, unless I am concerned that you, your child or someone else is in danger. Although these situations are rare, it is important for clients to be aware of this. If I become concerned, I will first endeavour to discuss with you and/or your child my decision for breaking confidentiality. However, if the urgency of the situation requires me to act immediately, I will retain the right to break confidentiality. Depending on the circumstances, this may mean contacting your GP, a Social Worker or the Police.
How do I cancel an appointment?
You can text, email or phone me. Clients are asked to give a minimum of 48 hours’ notice. Of course this is not always possible. When no or insufficient notice is given, I charge the full session fee. This is because it is usually too late to offer the appointment to another client.
What if I need urgent help?
I am not able to provide help with urgent concerns that require immediate action. Please contact your GP or NHS direct for advice. I can normally see new clients within one to three weeks.
How do I explain to my child / teenager about coming to see a psychologist?
Some children and teenagers are unsure or resistant about coming to see a psychologist. This may be because they fear their friends will find out or that other people will think there is something ‘wrong’ with them. When broaching this topic, try to avoid approaching your child with angry or disappointed reactions, lectures or accusations. Instead, talk to them about your concern for them and let them know you want to help them to be happier / less sad / less worried. Explain that you would like to try anything to help them, including psychological therapy. If your child refuses to attend, you could try giving them a day or two to think about it, before re-visiting the conversation. Or you could ask them to attend one session to see how they find it, before deciding.
Most children and teenagers find the sessions are not as bad as they thought they would be. I am used to working with children and teenagers who are resistant to attend and always try to make them feel as comfortable as possible.
Finally, it can be helpful to acknowledge that what your child is going through, and the suggestion of seeing a psychologist, can be anxiety provoking. Some parents have found it helpful in thinking about a suitable ‘reward’ (e.g. a bit of extra time on iPad/phone, treat in town, etc) to balance out the worry about the first meeting.
If you are a teenager reading this…
Young people often feel nervous or unsure about coming to meet with a psychologist. I understand you are probably going through a difficult time and either you or your parent(s) have decided to contact me. I hope to help you feel as comfortable as possible by being welcoming and friendly. My approach to working with families is to be open and honest. For me to be able to help you, I also expect you to be open and honest.
I have asked some of my teenage clients to share any ‘words of wisdom’ to enable others to feel less worried about coming to see me. Some of the comments are below:
“Nothing you say will be seen as stupid or silly and you feel able to say anything to her”
“It really benefits you and you enjoy things more”