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Monday 22 July 2019
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A woman in the clinic, having an appointment with her Doctor

About the Service - How We Work

Assessment

Many people feel anxious before their assessment, so you are not alone if you’re feeling this way. The assessment will usually take up to an hour and a half, across one or two sessions, and you are welcome to bring a close family member, friend or partner in with you.  You will be asked to complete some questionnaires either before your appointment, or whilst you are in the waiting room.

 

The assessment will involve speaking to a member of the team about how you are, what is going well, and what you might be finding difficult. We will decide together whether our service is appropriate for you, in which case you may be added to the waiting list for individual support. Alternatively, you may be signposted to another service, offered a group intervention, or advised to explore self-help options.

 

Following the assessment, we will send yourself, the referrer and/ or your GP, a written report of the assessment and a care plan for next steps.

 

The Mind-Body Link

The physical symptoms resulting from a physical health condition can affect the way you think, feel and behave, and in turn your thoughts and feelings can affect your body. This is known as the mind-body link.  


How we work

This mind-body link can have negative effects. For example, someone may feel anxious or stressed (emotion) and notice their physical health condition gets worse (physical symptoms). They may have thoughts like “I won’t let it beat me” or “I am weak if I give in” (thought) and therefore push themselves to do more (behaviour). However, this may then increase the person’s stress or anxiety, thereby further worsening their physical symptoms. The person may then become stuck in a vicious cycle.

 

The mind body link can also have positive effects and you can use the mind -body link to help look after your health. For example, when using relaxation techniques such as listening to calming music, mindful breathing or meditating, you may feel less tense and reduce stress. The physical effects will include slower breathing or lower blood pressure. This is the mind-body link having a positive effect on your physical and mental state.

 

Therapeutic Interventions

The department is made up of clinicians from a number of psychology professions who use a variety of psychological therapies. We all take into account the mind-body link, but might work with this in slightly different ways. Some of our clinicians have the title of ‘Dr’ but they’re not medical doctors, and they don’t prescribe medication. All of our clinicians use talking therapies, which look at helping you to make positive changes to your life. These might be changes in behaviour (things you do), changes in your cognitions (the way you think), or changes in your relationship with yourself, or with other people. It is likely to also include exploring some of your past experiences, and how these have impacted on you. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to talk about everything you’ve experienced.


Your clinician will listen carefully to you, and try to help you make sense of your experiences and your difficulties. Together, you will agree the best way to try and support you, and make a plan of action. You will usually be asked to try out different strategies, or reflect on what you’ve spoken about in sessions, at home in between appointments. We follow national guidance in terms of the most effective models or approaches to use for different difficulties. We will also take into account any previous experiences you have had of psychological treatments, and any preferences that you have.


Below are some of the different psychological therapies that our clinicians may be trained in:


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy is a therapeutic approach used within the Clinical Health Psychology department at Salford Royal. ACT, pronounced as the word ‘act’ aims to help people learn to live a meaningful life while effectively managing the struggles that life inevitably brings, especially if living with a health condition.

What does it involve?

  • Learning psychological skills such as mindfulness - to help us manage painful thoughts and feelings effectively so that they no longer have such an impact or influence over us
  • Gaining clarity as to what is important and meaningful in our lives i.e. our values, and using this as motivation to make changes for the better.

 

Overall rather than trying to control or get rid of our struggles, we can use ACT to learn to live life now and fully with and not in spite of our struggles.

 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are all connected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.


CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them into smaller parts. You are shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis. Although CBT cannot cure the physical symptoms of conditions, it can help people cope better with symptoms.


Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)

CFT is a kind of talking therapy. It is particularly useful for people who experience high levels of shame and/or self-criticism. This might include people who find it difficult to trust others, or those who find it hard to show kindness towards themselves, or accept it from others. 


CFT draws on lots of different ideas and techniques to help you learn how to be more compassionate towards yourself, and to feel safe and capable in a world that can seem overwhelming. It involves learning new skills and trying out different strategies, and practicing these in between each session.


Mindfulness

Our mindfulness group helps people who have a long term health conditions to develop paying attention to the here and now and to what is going on in the body and mind and the world around us. We can often get into negative patterns of thinking which affect our mood and behaviour without even realising it. 


The aim of the course is to help us develop a better awareness of the way the mind works in relation to health conditions, which helps us notice what is happening in the moment, allowing us to choose different responses to difficult or unhelpful automatic reactions. 


The course lasts for eight weeks, each session lasting two hours and is facilitated by a trained Mental Health Professional and mindfulness teacher who will support your learning. Group discussions can help people learn but no one will have to speak if they do not want to. To get the most from the course everyone is asked to do at least half an hour practice each day between classes, you will be provided with a workbook to help you meditate at home. For your comfort we ask you to wear loose comfortable clothing as you may wish to be sitting or lying on a mat for up to half an hour. We can make adaptations for you if you would prefer not to lie on the floor. You are welcome to bring brings mats, cushions or blankets for your own comfort.


Some of our clinicians will also use aspects of mindfulness within their individual sessions with people.