What is paediatric clinical psychology?
A clinical psychologist is a doctor with special training in understanding why people feel and act in certain ways. Psychologists believe that by talking about difficulties and practicing new skills, children and families can cope better. We do not do physical examinations or prescribe medication.
Our psychology service works with young people aged from 0 to 19 years, who have congenital heart disease (CHD), and their families. We work with children and families living in Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland. We also work with patients who live within the area covered by the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre (EMCHC) Network. This covers Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and beyond. Any child and family having regular follow-up care or check-ups for CHD from a cardiologist or paediatrician can be seen by a psychologist.
We know that coping with CHD can be hard at times. We offer help for you and your family to adjust to these challenges.
Young people over 16 years can consent to their own treatment. Other people in your family can ask to be referred for support too, for things linked to your heart condition.
What does a paediatric psychologist do?
Our job is to listen to your problems and help find a way forward.
Some of the kinds of problems that we can help with are:
Understanding, coping, and growing up with CHD
Worries about treatment, needles and/or surgery
Upsetting memories of past treatment or time in hospital
Dealing with feelings related to your heart condition. This could be things like feeling different because of your scars or because you can’t do certain things.
How your CHD affects other people in your family
Difficulty sticking to a treatment plan, or worries about coming into hospital for tests
Assessment of cognitive difficulties that people with CHD sometimes have. These can be things like:
Problems with paying attention
Problems with learning
Problems with remembering
Talking to a psychologist can help you to understand why you feel the way you do. You can find new ways of coping with things. If you think it would be helpful for you to see a psychologist, you can ask your doctor or nurse to refer you.
What will happen if I am referred for an assessment?
We will phone or write to you offering you an appointment. You do not have to come if you don’t want to. First appointments can last up to 90 minutes. They can take place face to face at the hospital where you have your heart care follow-up, or another place closer to home, like a different hospital. We can do telephone or video assessments if this is easier for you.
We usually talk to the family all together at first. We might speak to you on your own if you want this. We will talk to you about your concerns and how we could help. We will ask you questions about things like:
how you are getting on with your heart condition
how your heart condition affects your life
how you are feeling
what is going well for you and what is not going so well
We will not touch you. We do not prescribe tablets for mental health. We might ask if it’s ok to speak with other people in your life, like teachers. Things you tell us during appointments will be kept private unless we are really worried about you or someone else because of what you tell us.
What might happen next?
After our first appointment, we can decide together what to do next:
We might agree on some goals for working together. We would arrange to meet for further appointments, either by video, telephone, or face to face
You or your family might prefer help from a different service. We might also tell you about another service that would be a better fit for you. This can be because it is closer to where you live, or because your problems are not the kind of thing we can help with. We will talk to you about this at the assessment so that you understand why.
You or your family might decide that you do not need to see us again
Appointments might involve us working with you on your own, sessions just with a parent or carer, or sometimes families together as a group. We may also work together with other people such as doctors and nurses. Please talk to us if you would like to know more.