Community psychology service

Head and neck cancer

Our community head and neck team (CHANT) includes a psychology service.

It is available to:

  • head and neck cancer patients, aged 18 and over, who have finished treatment and are registered with a GP in south east London (Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Bromley, Bexley or Greenwich)
  • people with benign disease, who have the same symptoms or need the same treatments as head and neck cancer, and are registered with a GP in south east London

How psychology can help

A diagnosis of head and neck cancer can affect you in lots of different ways.

You may be dealing with difficult feelings because of your cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment or life after treatment. This can also affect your family members and carers.

Our psychology service offers different types of emotional support for people who have experienced or are affected by cancer.

You may experience problems such as:

  • worries about your health or your future
  • feeling stressed, anxious, angry or sad about what is happening or has happened to you
  • unwanted memories of past traumatic experiences associated with your cancer or cancer treatment
  • feeling unhappy about changes to your appearance following your treatment
  • difficulties coping with adjustment, change and loss
  • coping with pain, discomfort, fatigue and treatment side-effects
  • coping with how cancer may have affected relationships or sex
  • coping with how cancer has affected your self-esteem and sense of self
  • coming to terms with possible end-of-life issues

If you're experiencing any of these problems, please discuss it with a member of the CHANT team. The CHANT team can arrange for you to see a clinical psychologist for an initial assessment.

Psychologists are trained to help you understand any unhelpful thinking patterns. They can help you to think differently about problems and to try new coping strategies.

Psychologists are trained to use talking therapies. They are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Psychologists are not medical doctors like psychiatrists. They do not prescribe medicines.

Talking about the emotional impact of cancer can sometimes be upsetting. While most people benefit, not everyone is helped by psychological therapy. You may wish to talk about seeing a clinical psychologist with your family, friends, GP, or a member of the CHANT team.

After being referred

If you're referred to the service, you have an initial assessment. This gives you an opportunity to discuss your concerns and helps you understand how your problems are affecting you. At the end of the assessment, we discuss your options to help you manage your problems. This might involve more sessions.

You usually have up to 10 sessions, but you may have more. You can decide with the psychologist how often and when these sessions will take place. We can see you on your own, or with family members if this is helpful.

Your psychology sessions are either:

Most face-to-face sessions take place at The Waldron Health Centre in New Cross. However, we may be able to see you at your local clinic.

Please tell us  your preferences when you book your first appointment.

Assistant psychologists or trainee clinical psychologists may be involved in your care. You may meet with an assistant or trainee psychologist supervised by a qualified psychologist. However, if you do not wish to see an assistant or trainee, please let us know. This will not affect your care in any way.

Sharing what we talk about

Sessions are confidential, although we'll discuss your current difficulties with other professionals directly involved in your care. You can always ask us to keep certain things confidential. Your psychologist will always discuss sharing any information, before doing so.

Your psychologist will take notes during or after your sessions. These are kept securely and confidentially.

At times your psychologist may wish to consult other colleagues about your case though not in a way which would allow you to be identified. With your permission the psychologist will usually give the person who referred you, your GP, and other people directly involved in your care the information they need to keep your care coordinated.

Last updated: September 2023

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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