What is psychology?

Psychology is about understanding how we think, feel and behave. This service supports people with cancer to talk about and understand their thoughts and feelings.  

What issues can the Cancer Psychology Service support me with? 

We can help people with a range of issues including:

  • Making decisions about treatment

  • Adjusting to life after treatment
  • Living with uncertainty
  • Feelings of anxiety or worry thoughts
  • Feelings of low mood or depression
  • Living with fatigue 
  • Coping with change or loss
  • Managing changes in relationships and roles in life
  • Coping with treatment
  • Body image issues

Who is in the team?

We are a team of specialist Clinical Psychologists that are based in Chesterfield Royal, at the NGS Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre. There are two main Clinical Psychologists you may meet, although sometimes other members of the Health Psychology team may also see you for a session:

  • Sarah Davison, Clinical Psychologist
  • Dr Rachel Holt, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Who can refer me to the Cancer Psychology Service?

You can be referred to the Cancer Psychology Service by any health professional. You can ask your specialist nurse if you have one, or one of the doctors. You can also ask your GP to refer you to the service. If they need a referral form, you can ask them to call us on 01246 515 520 or email us at health.psychology@nhs.net to get one.

I am finding things hard emotionally, but do I need to see someone at the Cancer Psychology Service? 

We are a specialist service and we see individuals who have moderate to severe levels of emotional distress. It’s ok if you do not know whether this means you or not. 

You can speak to any healthcare professional and ask them about whether they think you would benefit from a referral to the Cancer Psychology Service, or whether they would recommend a different option for you.

How to get emotional support when you need it

This leaflet provides more information on other local and national services that may also be able to help you to meet your emotional needs. The leaflet includes ways you can request make a self-referral for support, including free talking therapy. It is recommended that you read this leaflet before discussing a potential referral to the Cancer Psychology Service with your healthcare professional, as some of the services included in this leaflet may be of interest to you.

Click here for Emotional Care Leaflet

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between a Clinical Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

To become a Clinical Psychologist you have to have a degree in Psychology, significant experience of working with people with mental health problems, further academic and research experience, and to have undertaken a three year doctorate programme in Clinical Psychology. A Clinical Psychologist will talk to you about your difficulties and may offer you talking therapies. Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors, and can give you medication for your emotional problems, and may diagnose mental health conditions.

How do I make an appointment?

Once you have been referred to the Cancer Psychology Service we will make an appointment for you, you do not need to do anything.


Sometimes we may send you a letter to confirm you definitely want an appointment with the Cancer Psychology Service. If you are sent this letter you just need to let us know your answer. If you tell us you want an appointment we will arrange this for you.

Where are my appointments held?

Generally you will see a Clinical Psychologist at the NGS Macmillan Information and Support Centre, Chesterfield Royal Hospital. In exceptional circumstances, we offer people an appointment at Walton Hospital, Chesterfield.

How long are appointments?

Your assessment appointment will last a bit less than an hour, though occasionally it will be shorter than this – depending on your situation. A follow-up appointment will last 50 minutes approximately, although sometimes it will be shorter than this if you and your psychologist feel you have covered all key areas in the session.

What should I bring to my appointment?

Please bring your appointment letter to remind you of where to go. Please also bring your questionnaires we send you out with you, completed if possible. If you cannot complete them on your own, we will help you with them. If you wear glasses it may be a good idea to bring these, and to wear any hearing devices. If you need any special cushions or equipment it will also be important to bring these along with you too.

How many appointments will I have?

This depends on your level of need, and you and the Clinical Psychologist you meet at your assessment will decide this together. You will be made fully aware of a plan for your sessions. If you, or the Clinical Psychologist, decides a longer course of sessions is required we will discuss the options for this.


It may be that we offer you a short block of sessions and support you to access further talking therapy sessions from another service. It may be that we support you to find another service at the start who can offer you more sessions, when we feel this would be better for your needs.

What if I miss my appointment?

If you miss your appointment and we don’t hear from you, we will discharge you from the Cancer Psychology Service.


You will receive a letter letting you know if this has happened. You will be able to ring us up to discuss this letter, if you think there has been a mistake or there is a reason for missing the appointment we did not know about. In these cases, an exception will usually be made on one occasion, and a further appointment offered. If this happens more than once the Clinical Psychologist may write you a letter to ask if this is the right time for you to be having psychology sessions.

What if I cancel my appointment?

If you cancel your appointment over 7 days before your appointment then you will be offered another one without hesitation, as this means we can offer your appointment to someone else.


If you contact us with 1-7 days notice, you will be offered one more appointment without hesitation. If this happens again your psychologist may ask you whether this is the right time for you to be having psychology sessions.  

Will anyone know about what I say to the psychologist?

No, it is a confidential session. The only reason the Clinical Psychologist will share anything you say with anyone else is if they are worried about your safety, or the safety of someone else. This is very rare. They will almost always talk to you and let you know if this is the case.


The Clinical Psychologist you see will keep an electronic record of the outline of what has been said in your session. No one else can read this except for your Clinical Psychologist.


If you do want your Clinical Psychologist to speak to someone else about some of the things you have said, like your specialist nurse, then this can be arranged. Some people find that this sharing of information can improve the support other healthcare professionals can give them.

Will I see the psychologist alone?

It is up to you. Most people come on their own as it can sometimes be easier to talk when you are not thinking about whether what you say may upset someone else. Some people do prefer to come with a loved one or friend though. That is also ok. If you bring someone else with you, sometimes the Clinical Psychologist will suggest you have some time on your own as well with the psychologist, but it is your choice.

I was diagnosed with cancer 3 years ago, am I too late to have support from the Cancer Psychology Service?

No. We see many individuals who have finished treatment, sometimes a number of years ago. If the difficulties you are having relate to your experience of having cancer then we may still be the right service for you.


If you had cancer a number of years ago, and you think your current issues are unrelated, it may be that we are not the right service for you. See here for a link to other talking therapy support you could access.


Will I be asked about my past?

The Clinical Psychologist will usually ask you a bit about life before cancer. However, you do not have to answer any questions you do not want to. Sometimes people chose not to talk about their early life and that is ok.

What if I say the wrong thing?

There is no right or wrong thing to say. It helps us to help you if you are able to open up about your situation. We also understand that for some people talking is hard, and takes time and trust. We will give you this time, so don’t worry if you don’t think you can say it all at once.

What if I run out of things to say?

The Clinical Psychologists in the Cancer Psychology Service are highly trained, and will help you talk. Most people find that when they come to their appointment they had much more to talk about that they thought they did!

What’s it like talking to a stranger about very personal things?

People often tell us they really find it helpful talking to someone they have never met before, and who doesn’t know them or those around them. Many people say it can help to talk to someone they don’t have to worry about, or feel responsible for. People often say they find it helpful to offload and leave the things they’ve said in a room, with someone completely separate from the rest of their life.

What happens when my sessions finish?

You and your Clinical Psychologist will plan for the end of your sessions together. You will work out a longer-term plan for your emotional wellbeing. You may also work out with your psychologist how you are going to remember the things you have learnt in your therapy sessions.


Once you have finished your sessions you will be discharged from the Cancer Psychology Service. The Clinical Psychologist will write a short letter back to your referrer and copy you into this, and your GP if you consent to this. The letter will update the referrer on your situation and let them know your sessions have finished. It will be up to you what is included in this letter.

What if I need help from the Cancer Psychology Service in the future, after I have been discharged?

You will be able to request a re-referral in the future from any healthcare professional.  In most cases you will be offered a further assessment session and we will talk about what ongoing support might be best for you. This might include further psychology sessions.

Can I see more than one therapists at the same time?

No, generally this is not recommended. If you are currently having therapy the psychologist will discuss with you the best way forward. This might be for you to finish your sessions with your other therapist and then to request a referral after this if you still feel this is needed. It may be that you decide to end, or put on hold, your previous therapy. You and the psychologist may decide that the Cancer Psychology Service will most appropriately meet your needs at the present time.