What is a Psychologist and what do we do?
Psychology is the study of the human mind and brain. Clinical and Counselling Psychologists specialise in the assessment, formulation*, diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses across the lifespan. Psychologists can also help mentally healthy people to find ways of functioning in a more efficient way, e.g. cope better with stress and enhance general wellbeing.
Clinical Psychologists work in child, adult, older adult and specialist services as part of their training. Like Counselling Psychologists they specialise in providing evidence based therapy tailored to the needs of the person. Educational Psychologists are specialists in maximising children and young people’s potential from a school or college perspective.
A Practitioner Psychologist’s training is broad-based within the NHS and lasts a minimum of six years, leading to a doctoral level qualification that enables them to assess, diagnose and advise on the most appropriate treatment available. A Psychologist is then able to provide therapy for a wide range of mental health disorders.
All Clinical and most Counselling Psychologists are able to provide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in addition to a range of other evidenced approaches and then usually go on to have further specialist training in other treatment approaches. Many Psychologists will also develop a particular interest in the treatment of a specific psychological issue or specialist area.
The first step is to call us on 01420 540274 or fill in our form by clicking on “Talk to Us” below. We always try to respond to contact form messages within the day.
Our helpful and friendly practice administration staff will ask you some initial questions about what you would like help with and which location or locations you could come to. They will also talk with you about which of our psychologists will be most appropriate and their availability.
Once you have decided who you’d like to see we will arrange a suitable time for you to talk to each other. Ideally this will be within a day or two. This is a great opportunity to ask any questions or address concerns that you may have before making an appointment.
We know that it is not always easy to get to the point of making the decision to contact someone for help. Louisa and Janet are there to help you through the process of finding the right person to speak to. You will be asked for some personal details during this process. All information shared with us will always be treated in the strictest confidence. Needless to say, all our people are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under the Data Protection Act (1998).
The next step is to meet with your Psychologist for an initial consultation or assessment. You should usually allow around an hour to an hour and a half. The purpose of this session is for you to be able to explain what you would like help with, ask questions, provide some background history and define your goals for therapy. We also discuss the most effective course of therapy, how it would work, what you can expect from us and what would be expected of you.
At the initial assessment we will be able to give you a more accurate idea of the duration and cost of your therapy. If you choose to go ahead, you will then have 55 minute appointments every week (or two weeks – depending on your personal needs) with your psychologist.
We welcome referrals from other professionals, however, you don’t require one to see a Psychologist.
The consultation, as with any doctor, is confidential. There are certain situations where information may need to be shared without your consent – if the doctor is concerned that you or someone else’s life is at risk – but these situations are rare and every attempt will be made to abide by your wishes with regards to confidentiality.
You will be asked at the outset of therapy whether you would like anyone to be informed of the progress of your therapy. This might be your GP, another therapist or psychiatrist if you are already seeing one, certain members of your family or no-one if that is your wish.
Psychologists are unable to prescribe medication. However, they are always open to working collaboratively with a GP or Psychiatrist if you feel you would like to continue or begin a course of medication.
The formulation is begun at the assessment session(s) and is essentially a detailed description, history and working explanation of the presenting problem(s). Psychologists work with you to develop a detailed formulation of the problem – like Psychiatrists they can also provide a diagnosis. The assessment process may be over one or several sessions depending on complexity and the psychologist may need to access various sources of information to gain the fullest picture. The Psychologist develops explanatory hypotheses for the problem using biological, psychological, and social perspectives. An individualised and holistic explanation for the difficulties is developed which takes account of (amongst a comprehensive range of factors) likely causing and maintaining factors through the lifespan, precipitants (factors that may have precipitated the onset of difficulties), risk factors and strengths/resilience. This individualised picture is developed in close collaboration with the client. This formulation is then used to plan and design appropriate treatment. This might be a course of therapy, medication or a combination of the two, as well as identifying planned changes in the client’s environment, work, relationships or lifestyle.