Counselling Service

The Macmillan Psychological Therapies Team provide a range of evidence-based psychological therapies for patients with cancer and their families who are attending, or have attended the Sussex Cancer Centre.

Diagnosis and treatment
The diagnosis and treatment of cancer is a disturbing experience for most people and can have a devastating impact on quality of life – not just for the individual, but also their family and carers.

In some ways, dealing with the emotions can feel just as difficult as coping with the physical aspects of the disease. People with cancer face uncertainty and may have to undergo physically and psychologically
distressing treatments.

Psychological distress is an understandable and natural response to any traumatic or life threatening experience and is common amongst people diagnosed with cancer. Though each individual will
experience cancer differently, people often experience changes in four areas:

  • Thinking – e.g. focussing on symptoms of distress (rumination) or making efforts to keep oneself from thinking about cancer (avoidance).
  • Feelings – e.g. shock, numbness, fear, anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, guilt, helplessness, powerlessness, lack of control.
  • Bodily changes – including muscle tension and pain, nausea and dizziness.
  • Behavioural changes – including irritability, disturbed sleep or eating habits, social withdrawal, or seeking reassurance from others.

After Treatment
Psychological and emotional adjustment sometimes takes longer than the physical recovery, and the end of treatment can be a difficult time as people try to make sense of their experience and re-adjust to ‘normal’ life. Fear of recurrence can surface and impact on well-being.
The Macmillan Psychological Therapies team can help people adjust emotionally and meet the psychological challenges commonly faced by people during their cancer journey, such as; anxiety, depression, family and relationships issues, uncertainty, and treatment side-effects.

What does the service offer?
We offer information, support and the opportunity to discuss any concerns. The psychological therapies team uses a range of evidence-based talking therapies that include:

  • Specialist cancer counselling
  • Couples therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Telephone counselling
  • Psychosexual therapy
  • Relaxation and guided visualisation
  • Informal psychological support and advice
  • EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing)
  • Mindfulness-based interventions and drop-in group
  • Psycho-educational recovery group
  • Self-help techniques
  • Please ask for further explanation of these therapies if needed.


What to expect/who is the service for?
You can expect to be offered an assessment appointment with either Mark or Laura at the earliest point available and at a time that is convenient to you. Sometimes there is a waiting list and urgent referrals will be prioritised. At this appointment you will be given the opportunity to talk privately and confidentially about your situation. After assessment they will decide the most appropriate way forward. You may be offered further
appointments with one of the other therapists or ongoing appointments depending on what is best for you and which psychological therapy you are offered. Each session is 50 minutes and will focus on cancer related issues. All members of the team are bound by Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS policies regarding confidentiality and record keeping and adhere to either the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), British Psychological Society (BPS) or British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) professional code of ethics. Therefore all sessions are completely confidential.

How do I access this service?
Referrals can be made by any health care worker or by self referral. The service is free and appointments are offered from Monday to Friday. It is available to adults diagnosed with cancer and close family

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