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Clinical Psychology

Our Clinical Psychology team provides a specialist service for all children under the care of the Oxford Craniofacial Unit.

What is a Clinical Psychologist?

Clinical Psychologists are interested in reducing the psychological impact of medical conditions or injuries on patients and their families.

We are involved in the care of patients and their families at whatever stage we are needed. We are available to discuss the emotional impact of living with craniofacial conditions, and work with patients and their families to maximise their coping and quality of life. We also conduct developmental assessments to monitor children's progress.

Clinical Psychologists have a doctorate in psychology and many years' experience working with children and adults. We are specialists in dealing with a wide range of emotional issues and do this through assessment, talking therapies and one-off consultations.

Clinical Psychologists are also actively involved in research and clinical audit projects. We often share our findings in journal publications, conference presentations, and through education and training.

Clinical Psychologists are not medical doctors. We do not conduct physical examinations and we do not prescribe medication.

Our work within Oxford Craniofacial Unit may include the following.

  • Early intervention and advice e.g. coping with questions about your child's condition, parenting advice around managing a child after surgery.
  • Psychological therapy regarding the psychology of appearance and adjustment to medical conditions e.g. managing uncertainty, self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Supporting patients and their families with decision-making about surgery.
  • Preparing patients and their families for surgical procedures.
  • Working with parents and family members (such as siblings) to help them adjust to and cope with the patient's condition.
  • Consultation and liaison with other medical colleagues, children’s schools and child services.
  • Conducting cognitive and developmental assessments.

The Clinical Psychology team works with other specialties within the Oxford Craniofacial Unit, the hospital and external agencies, including:

  • GPs
  • paediatricians
  • other medical personnel
  • schools (teachers, SENCO, teaching assistants)
  • Speech and Language Therapists
  • ward-based nursing and play specialist staff.

A Clinical Psychologist will be present at your child's multidisciplinary clinic appointment, where you will have the opportunity to ask any team member questions about their specialist area. Sometimes we may offer a separate appointment with one of our team alongside clinic (or at another time) to provide a more in-depth consultation.

We offer routine developmental assessments at key stages throughout childhood including:

  • pre-operatively
  • at age 3 years
  • at age 5 years
  • at age 7 years
  • at age 10 years.

We also offer assessments at any time when a clinical need arises during the course of a patient's care.

You child's appointment

Our Clinical Psychologists routinely meet with all patients and their families when they attend for clinic review. This is an opportunity to address any concerns relating to the emotional impact of living with their condition.

For some this meeting is purely a check-in, a chance to review how things have been since the previous clinic, as well as discuss any coping strategies that are working well. It can also be an opportunity to raise specific psychological, social, or developmental concerns. These may be addressed in the clinic or may benefit from treatment over a number of sessions. We also accept self-referrals from patients and their families, in addition to referrals from other colleagues working within the Craniofacial Unit. Depending on the type of difficulty, we may invite you to one or more sessions at the Russell Cairns Unit.

OUH is a teaching trust, so your child might be seen by a Clinical Psychologist in Training working under the supervision of a qualified Clinical Psychologist.

How long will the appointment last?

This can vary. Typically, a first assessment can last 60 to 90 minutes, with additional therapy sessions lasting 50 to 60 minutes. If your child has been invited to complete a cognitive assessment, the session may be longer. The Psychologist will discuss this with you in advance, so that you can plan your visit.

What should I bring?

If your child is being seen for a cognitive assessment and needs glasses for reading, then please bring them to the appointment. It may also be helpful to bring copies of other recent assessments or reports that have been written about your child, and the names of other professionals who are involved in their care (eg Paediatrician, SENCO, Educational Psychologist).

Other family members are always welcome to attend sessions. At the start of the appointment, we will usually discuss with you the most helpful way to utilise the time available. This may involve seeing parents or children for part of the appointment on their own, whilst other family members wait outside. Please let us know if you have a preference about this.