The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Clinical Psychologist?

A Clinical Psychologist is someone who is specifically trained and professionally qualified to help people with a range of emotional and behavioural difficulties. Clinical psychologists aim to reduce the distress and improve the psychological wellbeing of their patients. In a physical health setting, they are trained to understand the psychological effects of physical health problems. They draw on current research knowledge and national guidance and combine this with a person’s physical health, mental health, development and psychological functioning to understand their strengths and difficulties. They work in partnership with patients to help manage their condition using talking therapies. A Clinical Psychologist is not a medically trained doctor and does not prescribe medication.

It takes on average nine years to train as a Clinical Psychologist. The first step is to complete a psychology degree accredited by The British Psychological Society (BPS). Many graduate psychologists then gain experience working in a range of health and social care settings or carry out research. This is followed by three years of postgraduate training leading to a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. To use the protected title Clinical Psychologist, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and complete regular continued professional development.

What is a Clinical Neuropsychologist?

A Clinical neuropsychologist examines and seeks to understand the relationship between the brain and the behaviours, emotions and thoughts of an individual following brain injury or illness. Clinical neuropsychologists can assess cognitive abilities (e.g. thinking skills such as memory and concentration), psychological functioning (such as mood), and advise on supporting a patient’s abilities in these areas.

A Clinical Neuropsychologist completes an additional qualification in neuropsychology after qualifying as a Clinical Psychologist. They must also be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and complete regular continued professional development.

What is a Counsellor?

A Counsellor is trained to listen with empathy (by putting themselves in your shoes). Counselling is a type of talking therapy that allows a person to talk about their problems and feelings in a confidential and dependable environment. Counselling aims to help you deal with and overcome issues that are causing emotional pain or making you feel uncomfortable. This can provide a safe and regular space for you to talk and explore difficult feelings. The Counsellor is there to support you and respect your views. They won't usually give advice, but will help you find your own insights into and understanding of your problems. (From:

Counsellors will undergo two to three years speciality training in Counselling, often on top of an existing professional qualification.  Like all professionals who work in a psychological way in the NHS, they will receive ongoing clinical supervision and educational development to ensure they are always up to date in their speciality.  Furthermore, as a condition of practice, Counsellors have to be accredited by a regulatory body such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) whose standards they have to meet each year.  In some cases, more than one professional regulator will regulate Counsellors, as is the case in our services.

What problems can a Psychologist or Counsellor help with?

The Psychologist or Counsellor will work with you to try and understand how your health condition, and its treatment, may impact on your emotional well-being. We hope that, in working with a psychologist or Counsellor, you will be better able to manage your difficulties.

  • Examples of problems that your Psychologist or Counsellor can help with:
  • Adjusting to your diagnosis and loss of confidence
  • Feeling anxious or having panic attacks
  • Low mood or feeling upset
  • Decisions about your treatment and medication
  • Coping with treatment
  • Worries or fears about the future
  • Feeling angry
  • Coping with pain 

How can I be referred?

A Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust Consultant (doctor) or one of their team can refer you to our service.

What do I do if my video consultation link does not work?

Please ring the Department on 0113 20 65897 if you are having any problems accessing your video consultation.

Who will I see?

You will see the Clinical Psychologist or Counsellor who works in the health speciality from which you have been referred. Usually you will see the same person at each appointment.

What happens to the information I share with a Psychologist/Counsellor?

Information that you share with the Psychologist/Counsellor is kept confidential. Notes written during your appointment will be kept separate from your medical notes. The Psychologist/Counsellor will typically only share a brief summary of this information with other health professionals involved in your care. This is usually a letter and your Psychologist/Counsellor will discuss this further at your first meeting.

Psychologists and Counsellors have a duty to tell somebody if they are worried that you or someone else is at risk of harm.  We would always try to talk about this with you first. Your Psychologist/Counsellor will talk more about information sharing at your first appointment.

As part of good clinical practice all clinicians receive regular clinical supervision. This involves discussion of any cases where the Psychologist/Counsellor wishes to discuss issues relating to work with a particular patient, family or carer. Such supervision consultations are held in private and are confidential.

How often will I see a Psychologist/Counsellor?

You and the Psychologist or Counsellor will discuss how often it would be best to meet. Some people may see the Psychologist or Counsellor only once or twice. However, others may see them once a week, over several weeks or months. Your appointment will usually last 50 minutes.

Can I bring my partner or friend with me to the appointment?

You are welcome to ask someone to come with you to the appointment. It is up to you if you want them to come into the session with you. Sometimes it is useful to have some of the session alone with the Psychologist or Counsellor without anyone else listening as this sometimes changes what you say. Please feel free to discuss this with your Psychologist or Counsellor.

We ask that you do not bring children to your appointments (unless specifically discussed with your Psychologist or Counsellor, for example in the Plastic Surgery children’s service) as this may not allow you to speak freely or you may become distracted. We do not have facilities or resources for anyone to look after your child whilst you are in an appointment.

What kind of therapies and approaches do you offer?

Clinical psychologists are trained to draw on current research knowledge and national guidance and combine this with the individual’s presenting mental health, development and psychological functioning to determine the treatment or intervention most likely to have a lasting beneficial effect on symptoms and general well-being. Treatment may be from a number of therapeutic approaches. Clinical Psychologists are trained in a number of therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CBT), systemic therapy, Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Psychodynamic therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). Please speak to your Clinical Psychologist about what they can offer.

Does it mean “I'm going mad” or not coping if I'm referred?

Going to see a Clinical Psychologist or Counsellor does not mean that a person is mentally ill or that the problems are ‘all in their head’. Research has shown that emotional or psychological difficulties are unfortunately common in patients who have a physical health problem. We hope that help from a Clinical Psychologist or Counsellor will support you in managing your physical health condition.

What else do Clinical Psychologists do with their time?

Clinical psychologists also work in teams. They offer supervision of psychological work carried out by other professionals, and provide consultation to healthcare staff or multi-disciplinary teams about the psychological aspects of patient care. They also offer teaching and training in the application of psychological principles to improve health care, for example training staff to respond to emotional distress, communication skills training and helping staff to support patients with health behavior change.

Clinical psychologists are also active in research and evaluation of psychological approaches to patient care. They contribute to the development of policies, procedures and new services that enhance the quality of psychological and physical care given to patients.