The Clinical Psychology Service sees patients of all ages, both those who have had ongoing treatment with the Spires Cleft Centre since childhood and adults wishing to return to consider their cleft care at a later stage.
The key to successful treatment is mutually agreed goals and expectations between patients and all the clinicians involved in their care. One of our roles as psychologists is to support patients through the decision-making process about possible treatment, ensuring that they are able to collect all the information they need in a way that’s understandable, in order to make the best possible decision. Deciding whether to proceed with treatment can sometimes be a difficult choice and we offer a neutral, impartial, space to help patients reflect on the information and think through the pros and cons of different options. This can also be useful if there are particular fears or worries that are getting in the way of pursing treatment (for example, a fear of needles or operations).
We also offer the opportunity to work through psychological concerns at any stage, whether patients are having active cleft treatment or not. For some patients there may be worries or concerns relating to experiences in the past which can cause anxieties about social situations, low self-esteem or low self-confidence. For other patients returning to treatment can trigger particular memories of previous treatment in the past (when psychological aspects of care were not well looked after). Finally, despite the immense skill of our surgical and dental colleagues, it is not always possible to achieve everything on a patient’s wish list and we work hard to support these patients to minimise the impact and distress of outstanding concerns on their day to day life.
Clinical psychologists are part of the multi-disciplinary clinic consultation and also offer separate outpatient appointments to discuss specific issues in more detail.
Young people and adults often tell us that they experience difficulties knowing how best to respond to other people’s comments or questions about their cleft. Others might be experiencing some difficulties with regards to teasing and bullying. We have therefore developed two guides which we hope will help you to manage these challenges: