Cancer and Palliative Care Psychology
Our service offers specialist psychological and emotional support to individuals whose lives have been affected by cancer or palliative conditions.
Our service offers specialist psychological and emotional support to individuals whose lives have been affected by cancer or palliative conditions. We are an integral part of cancer services and local palliative care teams, working closely with other professionals to contribute to patient care. We provide a confidential service that will be tailored to the patient's needs.
Our team includes four qualified Clinical Psychologists (HCPC registered) and one secretary.
Experiencing illness can affect people in many different ways. Common challenges that patients may face include:
- Changes in the way they think and feel about themselves and their bodies
- Feelings of loss associated with having to give up work or leisure activities
- Struggling to find the same enjoyment in life as before
- Difficult choices about treatment
- Fears about the future
- Changes in the role within the family, intimate or social relationships
- Changes in mood, such as anxiety and depression
- Other normal, but very difficult emotions, such as anger, frustration or loneliness
We aim to support people by working together to develop a clear understanding of their difficulties and how these might be addressed. This can include helping individuals to make sense of their experiences, consider different strategies for coping with the emotional impact of these changes, and exploring different ways to maximise their quality of life.
Reimbursement for travel costs
The Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust operates as part of the healthcare travel costs scheme. Patients are retrospectively reimbursed at the General Office for car parking, blue badge mileage and public transport costs (not including taxis). For more information, including what types of benefits qualify, please visit the national Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS) page.
The Cancer and Palliative Care Psychology Service is temporarily closed to new referrals. Please check for regular updates on this page as they will be provided accordingly.
This is not a crisis service for urgent mental health needs.
If you are feeling at risk to yourself, you are advised to contact your local community mental health crisis team or Emergency Department/GP. Please see the list of local crisis team phone numbers on our clinical health psychology page.
Meet the team
Dr Anita Wraith – Clinical Psychologist (Service Lead)
Dr Fiona Thorne – Clinical Psychologist
Dr Jessica Lane – Clinical Psychologist
Catherine Fitzpatrick – Secretary
What will happen at my first appointment?
Your first appointment will likely last up to an hour, with following appointments generally lasting 50 minutes. Initially your Psychologist will meet you to carry out an assessment in order to determine whether this is the best service to meet your needs. You will be encouraged to talk about your difficulties, including:
- The history of your medical care
- The way your health impacts your life and how you currently cope with these changes
- You may be asked about some background information about other areas of your life such as work and family
We hope this will enable us to have a better understanding of what has happened for you. This will help us to think about how we can best help you, and allow us to explore individualised techniques to be able to manage symptoms and difficulties. It will also enable us to signpost you to the best services that may be able to support you going forward if we decide together that psychological input is not the best fit for you.
How many appointments will I have and what will they involve?
You will initially have an assessment with one of the Clinical Psychologists. You will then work together to agree a treatment plan.
We provide a range of different therapies and interventions tailored to individuals, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness and Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT).
Options for further treatment may include group therapy sessions within the Cancer and Palliative Care Psychology Service, referral to appropriate local adult mental health services or self-management of symptoms.
There are lots of opportunities to feedback to your Psychologist about how well therapy is working and for discussing any potential difficulties that may arise.
Some people find that a few sessions are enough to help them feel able to cope with their difficulties on their own; other people may benefit from longer term input.
You may feel that it is not the right time for you to access therapy and we recognise circumstances may change. In this case, we would encourage you to speak to your care team about making a re-referral in future when the time is right for you.
Clinical Psychologists are not Psychiatrists or medical doctors, we do not prescribe medication.
If you wish to discuss medication, we would advise you speak to your GP in the first instance.
How do I access this service?
Our service is available to individuals who:
- Live within the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust geographical region
- Have a diagnosis of cancer or palliative condition
- Are under the care of a medical consultant or specialist palliative care team within one of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals
Any health care professional within the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust can make a referral to our service (with the patient's consent). If you wish to access our service, please discuss this with a professional who is involved with your care. After receiving a referral, and if we feel that our service can meet your needs, we will contact you by telephone to ask if you would like to opt in to our service. If we are unable to contact you by telephone we will send you an opt-in letter through the post. This will include more information and details about our service.
Where will my sessions happen?
At present, due to Covid-19 we are offering telephone and video appointments. You will be asked if you have a preference for a telephone or video appointment
The majority of appointments take place at the service base; Woodkirk House, Dewsbury and District Hospital. A limited number of appointments are available at Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospital for people who are unable to travel to Dewsbury. Please inform us by telephone if you have a preference and any access needs prior to your initial appointment.
We will let you know exactly where your appointment will be when we send your appointment letter.
What if I have more questions?
If you have any questions about our service please discuss these with your nursing or medical team or the Macmillan Information Service at The Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust.
Mindfulness involves being fully aware of what is going on around us, whilst accepting it and not reacting to it. It is a skill that all of us are capable of, but it can take practice if you’re used to doing several things at once, rushing through things, or being emotionally provoked.
You can practice mindfulness with anything, at any time and wherever you are. It can be helpful to regularly schedule time for mindfulness, to manage anxiety or other difficult feelings. Some people describe mindfulness as ‘grounding’, as if taking in everything around us allows us to be calm and return to Earth, instead of being swept up in a chaos of emotions.
Some examples of mindfulness are:
- Body Scan - Sit still and notice your body. Feel where your legs are and what you feel through your feet. Notice where your arms have fallen and what you feel in your hands. Acknowledge the weight of your head and what your back is touching. Watch mindfulness exercise video
- Eat a mindful meal. Turn off the television or move your phone away. Enjoy your food and notice all the different flavours and textures. Take notice of how different foods look.
- Dropping Anchor, this involves switching off from auto-pilot and focusing on the present. It is a simple formula – ACE.
A = acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, sensation, urges
C = come back into your body; push your feet onto the floor, straighten your body, press your hands together, stretch and breath (this is to connect with your body, not to distract from A)
E = engage in what you’re doing. Notice the things around you and your different senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste), give the task at hand your full attention.
Feedback about our service
We're always looking to get feedback about your experiences. Please complete The Friends and Family Test which is part of a national scheme to gauge how we are performing to help us improve patient care or to give staff positive feedback on doing their job well.
What our patients say
"I have found the whole experience invaluable."
"Everything from the professionalism to the caring manner."
"Genuine care, listening and feeling valued."
"Being able to talk about my situation and hopefully help me to cope with my side effects."
"Being able to talk to someone who totally understands."
"I have enjoyed discussing the strategies I have for coping, extremely helpful."