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Psychology is about behaviour, emotions and feelings.

This page gives you information about the support we can offer to patients with cancer who are having difficulty with their emotions.

 

Who we are

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

What we do

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.

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

Being referred to us

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

What happens when you see us


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."

How to contact us

Contact Mrs Sue Clark, Secretary on 0151 706 3126

Visitor information

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

Where we are

1st Floor Linda McCartney Centre,
Royal Liverpool University Hospital,
Prescot Street,
Liverpool, L7 8XP.

See map below

Local Support Services

Sunflowers

Sunflowers is a drop in centre set up to help support families living with cancer diagnosis and its effects. Sunflowers offers a range of support services from help with benefits advice, online information library and relaxation therapies.

Sunflowers has a range of support groups taking place, full listings are available on the Sunflowers website.

Sefton Cancer Support

Confidential emotional and moral support for patients, friends and relatives. Sefton Cancer Support works with the primary care trusts, hospitals and community care trusts, this enables them to provide alternative therapy services which compliment those provided by the NHS. Therapies which are provided include aromatherapy, relaxation therapy and reflexology.

As well as 24 hour telephone support, volunteers will also conduct home visits. Visit the Sefton Cancer Support website.

Lyndale

Drop-in centre providing confidential support for people affected by cancer and their friends and families too. Visit the Lyndale Cancer Support website to find out more.

Facts

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.