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Psychology Services for Cancer

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We are a specialist Psychology Service for people in Liverpool who are affected
by cancer.

We use psychological approaches (talking therapies) to:

  • Help people understand their emotional difficulties
  • Talk about issues that are important for them
  • Help people find a way forward.

Evidence-based care

The service is based on a unique clinical/academic partnership between the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and the University of Liverpool. Our research is helping us understand patients' experiences and improve clinical care. 

Centres for excellence and expertise

Research, teaching, training and service improvement work gives us a framework to develop excellence and share knowledge. We contribute to the teaching of trainee clinical psychologists and offer clinical and research placements to help trainees gain knowledge and experience in supporting people with cancer. 

Promoting psychological assessment and support

We train staff to help them understand psychological issues in patients' experience and use this knowledge in the care of their patients.

Dealing with Cancer: emotions

Dealing with cancer diagnosis, treatment and the end of treatment can be very challenging.  People often find the support they have from family, friends and staff at the hospital helpful.  However, sometimes people find that they are dealing with very strong feelings or feel 'stuck' and need more support. 

Who is referred?

You can be referred for help with various types of emotional difficulty at any point - from cancer diagnosis onwards. 

Patients include those:

  • Who are struggling to adjust over timewith intense emotional reactions that cause difficulties in their family life and/or make it difficult for them to care for themselves.
  • Who are stuck in a way that is likely to make future adjustment difficult.
  • With emotional difficulties that are unlikely to resolve over time with the support of family or medical and nursing staff.
  • Who are struggling to find a sense of purpose or meaning in life
  • who need specialist psychological support when involved in making complex decisions about their treatment.

Examples of emotional/psychological difficulties:

  • Anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Trauma related difficulties
  • Relationship problems that have been triggered or made worse by the experience of cancer (including sexual relationship)
  • Body image difficulties
  • Anticipatory nausea and vomiting
  • Sleep problems
  • Difficulties relating to other people
  • Psychological difficulties related to pain
  • Complex grief reactions

What is Clinical psychology?

Clinical psychologists are trained to help people with a wide range of difficulties. They work with people using a psychological approach and aim to:

  • Help people understand their emotional difficulties
  • Talk about issues that are important for them 
  • Help people find a way forward.
Appointments with the psychologist usually last for an hour. You will receive more information once an appointment has been arranged, including what to expect at the first appointment and afterwards.

Patient Story

About Sandra
Sandra is 44. She had bone cancer in childhood and had a leg amputated as a result. She managed the difficult adjustment of moving on with life after that and prided herself on being a ‘coper’.

In later years, a close relative of Sandra and Sandra’s father had cancer and sadly died. At 43, Sandra was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through the process of surgery and radiotherapy and it was after this stage that she began to find the anxiety that she had about recurrence quite unmanageable.

Sandra was reassured about a new breast lump that she found, but was finding it very difficult to cope at that stage due to her anxiety that the cancer would return. Her breast care nurse referred her to see a clinical psychologist. Having always seen herself as a ‘coper’, it was very frightening now to feel less able to cope – and Sandra was not hopeful of psychological therapy being useful.

“I didn’t really think it would do me any good in the slightest. I’ve never actually sat and spoke to anyone like that before and I just thought it would be a total waste of time….and I couldn’t believe it was the total opposite. After seeing the psychologist the first time I thought oh yeah I felt a bit better in myself and I felt like I’d let things go but as time went on it was absolutely I think the best thing I ever did."

“Talking to somebody you don’t know makes such a difference, it really, really does.  You can sit and talk to your family and friends but … I think you try and hold a lot of stuff in when you talking to family ‘cause you don’t want them to go through what you’re feeling and its amazing when you talk to someone you don’t know how more and more things come into your head. You start realising what you are actually worried about."

"I thought no, I didn’t need it I’m OK and everyone thinks that they are OK and strong … and that’s what I thought I’ve got through cancer once I’ll get through it again I don’t need anybody else’s help but I’d recommend it to everybody – even just a first appointment to see what they think. I wish I had been able to open up to someone after my first cancer."

Contact Us

We are based at: 
1st Floor Linda McCartney CentreRoyal Liverpool University HospitalPrescot StreetLiverpool, L7 8XP 

The service is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. We also see patients in other locations across Liverpool.

Mrs Sue Clark, Secretary
T: 0151 706 3126 

We have strong research links with the Division of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool. We use clinical research to inform practice wherever possible.
For information on the research carried out in Psychology please click here​