Paediatric clinical psychology

What does a clinical psychologist do?

Clinical Psychologists work alongside the doctors, nurses and dietitians in the Paediatric Diabetes Team. The role of the psychologist is to listen to everyone’s experiences and help children and families cope with struggles and uncertainties that can come from having diabetes and receiving treatment. They are trained to understand each family’s situation and support them to make specific agreed positive changes.


Who might benefit from seeing a clinical psychologist?

Clinical Psychology appointments are available to the families of all children and young people aged 0 - 18 (until their 19th birthday) who have diabetes and are seen by the teams at Epsom and Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children (QMHC) at St Helier Hospital. The clinical psychologist will aim to meet all patients with diabetes and their families at the time of diagnosis or shortly afterwards to give you an idea of how psychologists can help you.


Why is there a clinical psychologist in the team?

So many different emotions like worry or fear, sadness, anger and dealing with lots of change can affect families when managing diabetes. This is in addition to all the challenges of any other young person like relationships with peers, exam stresses, not feeling understood by families, schools, colleges or work. Talking to a clinical psychologist can help you to understand what is going on and find new ways of coping.


What happens during the appointment?

An appointment with the clinical psychologist will usually last for about an hour. Patients are offered face to face appointments in the children’s outpatient departments at Epsom and Queen Mary's Hospital for Children (QMHC). Sometimes it might be more appropriate to arrange a video or telephone call and this is something that the clinical psychologist can arrange. The psychologist will want to ask about you, your family, school, the impact that diabetes is having on your life, how you are all feeling and ask about things that are going well and not so well. This information will be used to decide if further appointments will be helpful and who needs to be involved. The psychologist will only help if you and your child want them to and this will be discussed at the first appointment. You might be seen for just one session or you could be offered a series of weekly or fortnightly appointments depending on what you need.


What can the psychologist help with?

A clinical psychologist can help with a lot of different kinds of problems such as:

  • Dealing with upsetting news.
  • Managing strong emotions such as fear, sadness or anger.
  • Supporting you to live with and manage your diabetes.
  • Coping with treatments that you feel worried about such as fear of needles.
  • Managing difficult behaviour.
  • Dealing with feelings related to having diabetes like feeling different from your peers.
  • Problems getting on with other people or worries about school.
  • How diabetes affects family life and the impact on siblings.
  • Difficulties sticking to your treatment plan and eating patterns.


What information is shared?

The psychologist will usually share important information with other members of the paediatric diabetes team as required. You may also be asked for permission to share the information with school or other people who might be able to support you and your family. Sometimes schools may ask for information on how you have worked with a clinical psychologist to help with coping better in school but any requests for information like this will be discussed with you and your parents initially.






Clinical psychology at Queen Mary's Hospital for Children

Who are the clinical psychologists and how to make an appointment?

If you would like to talk to the clinical psychologist you can ask any member of the diabetes team at your regular clinic appointments. The psychologist may be available to join you to discuss this during your clinic appointment or details of your first appointment may be sent to you by post. The psychologists will invite you once a year to let them know if this is something that you would like to arrange as a reminder but you can also get in touch throughout the year.



Clinical psychology for paediatric diabetes

Our role

The role of the clinical psychologist in the children’s diabetes team is to help and support children and young people with diabetes, as well as their families and carers. People come to see us for lots of different reasons, whether they just want to talk things over or need help with a specific problem. In addition to listening and talking, clinical psychologists can offer suggestions for change and practical ways of coping with difficult situations.

How to meet us
  • We offer an appointment to every family with a child or young person who has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. This is a chance to reflect on the process of adjustment to the diagnosis and to meet the clinical psychologist and find out more about what we offer.
  • Each year, families will be asked to complete a questionnaire which is designed to screen for emotional distress and a follow-up appointment offered if required.
  • You may meet us at clinic appointments or at events with other members of the team.
  • You can contact us directly (contact details below) if there is anything you would like to discuss with us and we can either talk on the phone or arrange an appointment. Alternatively, talk to another member of the team and they will pass on your request to us.

We work closely with our colleagues in the Paediatric Diabetes Team and will need to share information with them as it impacts on the care of the child or young person. However, if there are things you would prefer we did not share, please say so and we can discuss the limits of confidentiality.   

Contact us

At Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children, the clinical psychologist for paediatric diabetes is Sara Bentwood. You can contact her through Debbie Russell on 020 8296 3021 or by emailing Sara works at Queen Mary’s on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

You can find more information about general information about the trusts diabetes service for children and adolescents here

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