My experience with seeing a health psychologist
For as long as I can remember, I've been attending some form of therapy. My first therapist was a child psychologist, aged 10, after I fainted for the first time, on broken glass. It was children in need day and my class went to the high school food tech room to bake cookies, in our pyjamas. I don't remember much but I was mixing something in a glass bowl, told my friend I was feeling sleepy and then remember waking up with my head on broken glass !
Since then I've done CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), many times over the years and was finally sent to see a health psychologist after being told I'm too complicated for IAPT services. In 2019 I was referred to a health psychologist due to my chronic health problems and worsening of my mental health due to an injection I started.
What is a health psychologist and what do they do ?
According to the NHS health psychologists 'use knowledge of psychology and health to promote wellbeing and healthy behaviours..'
' they are trained to understand the psychological and emotional aspects of health and illness.'
Personally, health psychology was the best form of therapy I did. It is important to have a good bond and that you feel comfortable with your therapist, so you can openly share your problems with them. My therapist was amazing and our sessions were very helpful to me. Some things we spoke about included : how i feel about my ill health, how i feel about communicating with doctors/medical professionals, how i communicate with my friends and family about my health, how i think they feel about my health and how to control my anger and pain better,
I was taught about Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR - I previously did a blog post on this!) which was a game changer for me. I once described health psych as therapy for my chronic illnesses where my therapist would 'unscramble' my brain - which is till think describes it the best. It was nice to have someone who was focused on me being poorly and how to best help me manage my health emotionally and mentally as oppose to hearing 'just don't think about it, its psychosomatic, you don't actually have problems'
Towards the end we also realised I have another undiagnosed mental health or similar condition.
I would highly recommend seeing a health psychologist if you are chronically ill, and if you are able to.
Unfortunately, due to covid, I was discharged. Now due to the long waiting lists i'm still 2 years into a wait list and haven't been seen by anyone else yet which has been difficult. I cannot go private as the NHS would remove me from the list and I wouldn't be allowed back on it.