Find out what to expect when you come to hospital for your psycho-oncology appointment.

Before your appointment

We typically offer a first appointment within one to three weeks of referral and will prioritise patients with significant distress, pressing treatment needs and other urgent concerns. You are very welcome to bring along other people, if you want to involve them in our consultation – we will see you together and consider everyone’s perspective.

We will enclose two standard questionnaires with our appointment letter. Please complete these and bring them along to our first consultation. If we arranged the appointment directly, for example on the phone, we will ask you to fill in the questionnaires at the beginning of the consultation.

During your appointment

When you arrive, please check in and inform the receptionist of your arrival, especially if you have arrived later than our appointment time. We typically see people at the specific time of their appointment, and there is rarely any waiting at all. Equally, it may mean a briefer appointment if you arrive late, as we will need to finish on time for the next patient.

Please note that we are a teaching hospital, so healthcare professionals in training (e.g. psychology, medicine) may be present for some appointments. If you do not wish to have them in the room please let psychologist or counsellor know, that will not cause a problem.

Our appointments are typically for about an hour, but may vary by prior arrangement if necessary. For example, family and couple sessions may be longer.

We always aim to make this first consultation as focused and useful as we can. We will listen to how you are thinking, feeling and adjusting, what difficulties you are facing and what your priorities and goals are. You are welcome to bring anyone else into the consultation if you want to include them in the discussion. It is also usually helpful to hear your perspective on your cancer experience so far.

We will also ask you to complete some clinical questionnaires that will give us useful additional information, and can be prompts for you to raise your concerns. These questionnaires may be sent to you in a letter or email, to complete in advance, but if you need any help we can also do them together in the session.

After your appointment

For some people, openly discussing their thoughts and feelings at the first consultation, and getting feedback from a specialist, can be helpful and sufficient.

Equally, for other people, more sessions are needed to explore things further, develop coping skills or address more significant difficulties. We shall discuss and agree together how to proceed, for example by arranging regular psychological therapy sessions.

Most often, if we agree that further sessions are needed, this will be with a member of our team here, but occasionally we will refer to other non-cancer services (in the hospital or in the community) if it’s clear that they are better placed to help. For example, as we don’t prescribe medication, we will refer to the appropriate psychiatry service, if that’s what we agree.