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CFDealing with Cystic Fibrosis

Your mental health

Clinical Psychology and Social Support in the York Hull Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre

Clinical Psychologist team York and  Hull

At the York Hull Adult CF Unit we believe it is important to address all aspects of your healthcare and treatment. As part of this, the Centre has 2 part-time clinical psychologists.

Click here to Meet the Team

What is a clinical psychologist?

A clinical psychologist works with people who are having difficulties in their life and would like help in coping with them. Clinical psychologists are trained to use different models of therapy to help people talk about and tackle emotional problems, but do not use medication.

  • Clinical Psychologists are trained to support people with their mental health and wellbeing.  
  • Our role is to work within the Cystic Fibrosis team supporting the mental health of people with.  
  • Psychologists are often just one of many different specialities within a medical team, including nurses, doctors, physiotherapist, pharmacists, dieticians, management and admin staff. 
  • Your physical health is very important to your medical team, but equally, so is your mental health (your emotions/feelings and your wellbeing).
  • If you are struggling with your mental health in any way or want someone to talk to about something that is troubling you, then seeing a psychologist might be right for you. 
  • Psychologists also work with the whole team, to help them to help you. 
  • We all have different ways of coping (with day-to-day life, difficult times, with stressors). Some people turn to alcohol, drugs and/or self-harm. When things are difficult it might help to speak with a psychologist about this.

When may it be helpful to see a clinical psychologist and what sort of problems can they help with?

Living with a chronic illness like CF as well as other life stresses can be very difficult. How you cope with one aspect of your life can affect how you cope with having CF and its treatment, and vice versa

Many people find talking over their problems with someone is helpful. This might be a friend or relative, or might be one of the CF team who you feel you can talk to. This is often enough, but there may be times when you have a complex issue to deal with and need more help than they can offer, or have something you would like to discuss in private. A clinical psychologist can often help at these times.

Seeing a clinical psychologist definitely does not mean there is anything ‘wrong’ with a person psychologically. It simply means that a person is trying to improve their ways of coping with problems and they want to learn new skills.

What is involved?

On your first session, the psychologist will introduce themselves. They might ask you if you have seen a psychologist before and then explain a little about what to expect from the session. They will explain confidentiality and the limits of this, and maybe take contact details of someone they can contact if they are worried about your safety (this is the same for everyone, you are not being singled out). You will then be invited to talk about what has brought you to seeking support from Psychology. You will be asked to talk about other areas of your life too, to get a picture of your overall wellbeing. At the end of the session you can decide whether you would like another appointment and this can be arranged.  

It’s up to you and the psychologist to work together to consider how many sessions you might want. There is no expectation on the length of time you might want sessions with a psychologist.  

You might be asked about whether you have thoughts of or engage in self-harming behaviour. You might be asked whether you have thoughts of ending your own life (suicide). You might be asked in you have any other professionals helping you such as a social worker. Everyone is asked similar questions and you have not been singled out.   

A psychologist will begin with an assessment – this involves talking through any difficulties that are around at the moment and the things that have brought you to seek support from a psychologist. A psychologist will then work with you to try to make sense of and understand your difficulties into a formulation – this is a description of the difficulties. A psychologist can then work with you to find a way through the difficulties (intervention). A psychologist with work with you along the way to find out how things are going and together figure out an ending that feels comfortable for you and the psychologist (outcome). You are then welcome to have a few review sessions to check in with how you are doing. You may then be discharged and can be re-referred to psychology should you need 

Will it affect my medical care if I do not want to see the clinical psychologist?

If someone in the team feels it would be helpful for you to see the clinical psychologist, but you decide you do not want to, then that is your right. This decision will not affect your medical care or a re-referral in the future.  Often people are very unsure about seeing a psychologist at first and it may be helpful to have one appointment to see if it is for you or not and then decide.

Cystic Fibrosis cycle of care


MDT clinics and annual reviews

You may see clinical psychologist at some MDT clinics though they won’t always be able to attend these. Once a year at the time of your annual review our clinical psychologist will get in touch to offer you a longer conversation about how things are for you, any goals you want to think about for the year ahead and any support that could be helpful.

How can I be referred to see the clinical psychologist?

Anyone in the CF team or your GP can make a referral. Please talk to the CF team or directly to one of our clinical psychologist for any further information.

Difference and diversity  

There are many ways we are all different from each other and it is important that we recognise this. There will be many ways in which the psychologist is different to each client or patient.   

What can we do about it?  

In therapy it is important that the Psychologist listens to your individual experience and allows you to tell your own story, without assumption or judgement. The psychologist might ask you different questions to get to understand your experiences, for example:  

  • What were the messages you got growing up about asking for help? 
  • Is it important to think about race/cultures/ ethnicity when talking about these issues?  
  • What influence does your age or gender have on your experience of this?  

We also have access to language interpreters if you prefer to use different language to English.  

NICE- Cystic fibrosis: diagnosis and management