Psychologists in the specialist clinical unit of Oncology are experts in Psycho-Oncology and focus on emotional and behavioural problems that may result from, or complicate, the management of a patient’s cancer journey. They work as part of multi-disciplinary teams with other medical, nursing and allied health staff.
Psychologists treat distress and promote wellbeing
Clinical Psychologists in the Cancer Centre have highly specialised training to assess, diagnose and treat emotional, mental, cognitive and behavioural issues that patients and their families can experience.
They use psychological techniques to treat distress and promote well-being, with intervention based on the understanding that health is influenced by a number of factors. These factors include biological (such as a virus or tumour), psychological (involving thoughts and beliefs) behavioural (including habits) and social processes (such as a combination of financial and social factors).
Psychology services that can help you
Services to help patients and families may include:
Diagnosis and treatment of mental illness (which is any condition that affects a person’s mood, behaviour or thoughts in a way that is distressing or impairs functioning)
Clinical interviews of patients to help inform how medical treatments or other services are provided
Counselling for individuals and/or their families
Behavioural interventions to reduce the impact of how cancer is experienced and aid recovery
Strategies for dealing with pain and other physical symptoms of cancer
Consultation regarding psychiatric medications and the making of referrals, where appropriate, for psychiatric review
Assessing for and providing recommendations around possible cognitive impairment related to cancer and/or treatment that may be impacting upon school or vocational performance
Advocacy and representation for patients and families in regard to mental health difficulties and how they interact with the oncology experience
Consulting and referrals
Clinical psychologists can consult with other specialists about treatments and provide referrals. They do not prescribe psychiatric medications, although they are able to identify the need, or not, for this, and frequently consult with psychiatrists and other medical personnel regarding the application of treatments.
Although a clinical psychologist may provide psychological assessments, reports, recommendations, and participate in multi-disciplinary case conferences, they are not trained in case management and do not provide liaison services with other agencies; except for referrals to mental health services.
We accept referrals from all medical and allied health staff within The Children’s Hospital at Westmead who have an ongoing relationship with the patient.
The Department is unable to accept referrals for children and young people within the general community, who are receiving care from another health facility, or for non-oncology related issues.
To make a referral
For all eligible patients, speak with a member of your oncology treating team or oncology social worker.
Mental health issues are common, with 1 in 5 Australians experiencing a mental health difficulty at any given time, and 50 per cent experiencing a mental health difficulty at some time in their life. Cancer experiences, and other complications in life, can provide challenges for patients and families but there are many ways to connect with help.