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Adult Congenital Clinical Psychology

Here when you need

Who are we?

Our psychology service works with patients over the age of 16 who have congenital heart disease (CHD), and their partners and families. We work with adult patients living in Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland. We also work with patients who live within the area covered by the East Midlands Congenital Heart Network. This covers Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and beyond. Anyone who receives regular follow-up care or check-ups for CHD from a cardiologist can access our service.  If a patient is already receiving help from paediatric psychology, then they will continue to work with patients up to their 18th birthday. However, if you are not open to paediatric psychology and likely to require on-going support as an adult, it may be more appropriate for you to be seen by our service.

We know that living with congenital heart disease and its treatment brings many challenges at different life stages.  We are here to offer support to both you and your family in adjusting to and coping with some of these challenges. 


What does a Psychologist do?

Psychologists use an understanding of how people think, feel and behave, when living with long term medical conditions to help them to make sense of their difficulties.  Psychologists are trained in a variety of psychological approaches that can help when people are experiencing difficult thoughts or feelings that are affecting their wellbeing, making it harder to manage their medical condition and to do the things they want to do in life.

Psychologists are not medically trained. They do not prescribe medication or diagnose mental illnesses but specialise in reducing psychological distress and enhancing psychological wellbeing.

Psychologists use a range of therapeutic approaches, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). These therapies have been shown to be beneficial in helping people manage their long-term health conditions. Therapy is a collaborative process which means that you will be asked to think about what is important for you to gain from the sessions.


Some of the kinds of problems that we can help with are:

 Worries about your heart condition and the impact it is having upon your day-to-day activities

 Coping with a new diagnosis

 Health related anxiety

 Feeling a sense of grief or loss

 Coping with changes in your health and facing medical treatments or interventions (for instance an MRI, CT scan, ICD implantation, catheter implantation, cardiac surgery) and/or needle phobia

 Feeling worried or anxious about having an ICD or pacemaker

 Trauma symptoms associated with past, current and future medical treatments and interventions

 Having difficulty coping with a high-risk pregnancy related to your congenital heart condition

 Having a learning or communication difficulty and needing additional support

 Difficulties in your relationships with others as a result of your congenital heart condition

 Worrying about how your congenital heart condition affects other people in your family

 Coping with being in hospital for a long time


What will happen if I am referred for an assessment?

We will phone or write to you offering you an appointment.  Appointments can take place face to face at Glenfield hospital ACHD outpatients department, and we also have a clinic at Hadley House at the Leicester General Hospital site. We can also provide telephone or video assessments if this is easier for you, or you live out of county. 

We will talk to you about your concerns and how we could help. We will ask you questions about things like:

 How you feel that your heart condition affects your life

 How you are feeling physically and emotionally

 What is going well for you and what is not going so well

 What support you feel that you would need to improve your quality of life


What will happen following assessment?

After you have been assessed there are a number of possible outcomes:

 We may agree together on a number of goals for treatment and decide how many therapy sessions you will be offered (this can be reviewed at any point)

 We may feel that your psychological treatment needs would be better addressed by a different service which will be discussed with you.  If this is agreed, then a referral will be made to another relevant service.

 You may decide that you do not wish to work with psychology at this time.  You will not be under any obligation to continue to work with our service if you do not feel that this would be beneficial.


How can I get referred to the psychology service?

Any member of the ACHD team involved in your care can refer you.  If you would like to speak to a Psychologist, then please speak to any member of your care team.