Psychology

psychology session

Our Psychological Services Department is a group of psychology specialists who support patients, families and staff by listening and working with them to understand their situation so they can find ways of managing and changing for the better.

Most of the team are clinical psychologists and we also have family therapists, child and adolescent psychotherapists and arts therapists. We also support clinical psychology doctoral trainees from The University of Sheffield and regularly have trainees from various disciplines and volunteers who are interested in pursuing a career in psychology.

Psychology around the Trust

Members of our staff work in teams across the Trust including specialist support for Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and the Ryegate Children’s Centre.

Staff from the Paediatric Psychology department work in many wards and departments around the hospital. The following currently have their own dedicated clinical psychology time:

  • Child Assessment Unit
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Chronic Pain
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Burns
  • Diabetes
  • Gastroenterology
  • HIV
  • Oncology & Haematology
  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta
  • Neurosciences
  • Rheumatology

We also provide a generic psychology service, where teams without a dedicated clinical psychologist can still access psychology, for example, dermatology.

Who we see

Dealing with the impact of a health condition can place additional pressure on your child and other family members. Frequent hospital visits and admissions can be extremely stressful and upsetting and sometimes it is difficult for families to manage these extra demands.

We recognise that everyone who works in the hospital provides some level of emotional care but we see those who need more specialised input and are available to any family who would find additional psychological support helpful.

What we do

A paediatric clinical psychologist’s role is varied and no two days are the same. Families come to see us for a variety of reasons such as:

  • if your child is struggling with treatment
  • helping your child manage physical symptoms and procedures
  • adjustment to diagnosis/chronic illness for all of the family
  • emotional difficulties such as low mood or anxiety related to the medical condition

We always ensure that our support is tailored to the specific needs of each family or family member. This can include a mix of approaches including:

  • we are trained in a number of different psychological therapies (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, motivational interviewing, systemic therapy etc.)
  • we use creative techniques to help children explore emotional difficulties, such as toys and art materials
  • we don’t just look at the problem but identify strengths and what is working well
  • we work together with other members of the medical team to make sure we are all communicating well but we will also liaise with other systems around the child such as school
  • we are able to work with both inpatients and outpatients
  • we carry out neuropsychological assessment (IQ assessments) when these are needed
  • we also support staff when they might be finding things a bit more difficult and provide teaching and training to other professionals in working psychologically
  • you may be asked to take part in some research or service evaluation as this is also part of our role

We see families together, as well as young people, parents/carers, siblings and other important family members on their own. This support is provided on on an ongoing basis to help families cope throughout their time at hospital.

Psychology FAQs

What training does a clinical psychologist have?
Clinical psychologists have an undergraduate degree in psychology and a three year doctoral level training in clinical psychology. Between finishing their undergraduate studies and starting their clinical psychology doctorate they gain both clinical and research experience. Some may have a Masters degree or research PhD in addition to the above and many have further training in specific ways of working.
Do clinical psychologists analyse people and read minds?
Not at all. We listen to the information that families give us and work together to develop an understanding of the problem and ways forward.
What is the difference between a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Both are concerned with emotional wellbeing but psychiatrists are medically trained and can prescribe medication, whereas psychologists use talking and creative therapies to help their patients. Clinical psychologists are also trained to administer neuropsychological assessments (e.g. IQ assessments).
If someone sees a clinical psychologist are they mad?
Of course not. Our young people and their families are often ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances. Whilst some people may have existing mental health issues that are being exacerbated by their current situation we also know that sometimes responses, whilst distressing, may be a normal reaction to their current circumstances which may or may not need the support of a clinical psychologist.
Can clinical psychologists make everyone better?
We certainly try but there are no guarantees that we can help everyone. Psychological therapy isn’t something that we can ‘do’ to people – they need to be actively involved for change to take place.
How do I explain psychology to my child?
Even we find it difficult to explain what psychology is to a child but it is important that they know that we are not like the doctors and nurses and that we won’t be doing any medical procedures. Instead we will spend the time talking and playing and helping them to find ways of coping with the worries that they may have.

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