Our clinical psychologists work with people with many different types of difficulties, including the impact of physical health problems. The clinical psychologist based in the genito-urinary medicine department specialises in helping people with difficulties related to sexual health. The clinical psychologist does not offer input to people with general mental health difficulties that are unrelated to their sexual health.
Why has a referral to the clinical psychologist been suggested?
When people come to the clinic, they often tell staff about things that have been worrying them or difficulties that they are trying to cope with. After talking these problems over, the doctor, nurse or health adviser may suggest that the clinical psychologist might be able to help.
The types of problems that people are commonly referred to the clinical psychologist for help with include:
- Difficulties coping with the diagnosis of a sexual health problem
- Sexual difficulties
- Difficulties making lifestyle changes that relate to sexual health
- Coping with traumatic events related to sexual health, eg sexual assault
- Memory and concentration problems that might be related to HIV
- Anxiety about contracting a sexually transmitted infection
- Medically unexplained symptoms related to sexual health.
How might a clinical psychologist help?
Clinical psychologists are not medical doctors and do not prescribe drugs. The clinical psychologist will listen carefully to you and try to help you make sense of your difficulties.
There are no 'quick fixes' to the types of problems that people see clinical psychologists for. This can be disappointing. However, the clinical psychologist will be able to offer guidance and advice on ways for you to tackle the problems that you are having based on an individual formulation of your difficulties. The clinical psychologist is able to provide short term psychological therapy, including cognitive benhavior therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness based approaches.
To get the most out of clinical psychology sessions you will be asked to take an active role. This means getting involved in planning the type of help that is offered and trying out different ways of doing things. For example, some people may be asked to practise activities such as regular relaxation exercises.
What will happen when I see a clinical psychologist?
The first one or two meetings are for assessment. This is for you and the clinical psychologist to talk about the problems you are having and how they affect you in a confidential and supportive environment. You and the clinical psychologist can then decide on the next step.
You may agree to meet for a number of sessions to work on the problems that you have identified. Sessions are usually arranged on a weekly or fortnightly basis and last for about 50 minutes. It is important that you are able to attend appointments regularly. You may be seen on your own, or if appropriate with a partner or family member. You can discuss this with the clinical psychologist.
The clinical psychologist will only offer you regular sessions if he or she believes that this is the most suitable option for you. Sometimes the clinical psychologist may suggest that another service may be able to better help you with the difficulties that you are having. The reasons for this will be fully discussed with you. The clinical psychologist can help organise referrals to other services, if needed.
How long will I have to wait?
Following your referral you will receive an opt-in letter where you will be required to telephone to activate the referral and make an appointment.
It is likely that you will be offered an assessment appointment within a few weeks of your referral. Please let the person who refers you to the clinical psychology service know whether you would prefer to be contacted about your appointment by telephone or letter.
The clinical psychologist is also part of the wider team of clinical health psychologists within the trust.