What is counselling?

A cancer diagnosis can be a shock for the patient and his or her family. It can produce worry, anxiety, depression, lack of confidence or self-esteem and an inability to concentrate, as well as triggering anxiety and problems from the past.

Counselling is a process of self-exploration that may help you to manage problems more effectively through increased self-awareness. Sessions provide a safe place in which to explore emotional issues in confidence.

Counselling aims to provide you with an opportunity to understand their experiences in a way that helps you feel more in control. It can help you deal more effectively with problems such as:

  • worries about the future
  • body image issues
  • sexual problems
  • fear of treatment (eg, needle phobia)
  • stress
  • anger
  • relationship difficulties
  • sleep disturbance
  • panic attacks
  • anticipatory nausea and vomiting

If you have difficulty making sense of your feelings or can relate to any of the above or other such experiences, you may find it helpful talking it through with a trained counsellor/psychologist.

If you are finding it difficult to talk, you may prefer to try art psychotherapy where our art psychotherapist will try to help you by using more visual methods.

The counselling service at the LJMC

How do I book for a counselling session?

You can access the counselling service by:

  • Phoning the LJMC Helpline (020 3826 2555) and referring yourself
  • Dropping in to the LJMC and speaking to a member of staff
  • A member of your healthcare team can refer you

What happens next?

Following referral, you will be invited for an initial assessment session to talk through your concerns and together decide how counselling may help.

You will be offered six weekly counselling sessions. These will usually be at the same time each week with the same counsellor. Each session will last about 50 minutes.

Where do the sessions take place?

Usually your sessions will be face-to-face appointments at the Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre. If appropriate, sessions may be held over the telephone or by video. You can ask about this during your assessment session.

The team

The counsellors who work at the LJMC are highly trained and experienced in working with people with cancer.

Counsellors work to the codes of ethics and practice of the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy or the British Psychological Society.

What does counselling cost?

All LJMC services are offered free of charge to NHS patients under the care of an oncologist based at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre.

Private patients having treatment at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre may also be eligible to use our services. Please call the Helpline for details.

What can I do if I cannot get to the LJMC?

If it is not convenient for you to come to the LJMC for counselling and you do not wish to have sessions over the telephone or video, or if you have finished your sessions at the LJMC, you may wish to find a therapist in your local area.

Art psychotherapy at the LJMC

What is art psychotherapy?

In art psychotherapy, art materials are used as a way to express thoughts and feelings which may be difficult to put into words.

The artwork is made in the presence of a trained art psychotherapist. Her role is to provide a supportive and confidential environment in which you can feel comfortable enough to express yourself both verbally and creatively.

It will be up to you to decide how much they wish to reflect and talk about the artwork.

Do I need to be good at art?

No. Being good at art is not a requirement of engaging in art psychotherapy.

The art psychotherapist can support you in the use of different art materials, however it is not an art lesson, and your artwork will not be judged as such.

With what can art psychotherapy help me?

Art psychotherapy can offer psychological support with many issues which may arise when faced with a cancer diagnosis. Some of the issues may include reactions to diagnosis, altered body image, isolation, loss of meaning and changes in relationships.

As well as providing psychological support, art psychotherapy can provide a creative experience which can enhance a person’s quality of life and general well-being.

Can I access art psychotherapy as an inpatient?

Art psychotherapy may be available to patients during their stay on the wards at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre. Ward staff can support you to make a referral to the LJMC.

How many sessions will I need?

We usually offer up to six sessions. The number of sessions will depend upon your needs and situation. Sometimes a single session may be all that is needed.

How do I book?

You can access the art psychotherapy service by:

  • Phoning the LJMC Helpline (020 3826 2555) and referring yourself
  • Dropping in to the LJMC and speaking to a member of staff
  • A member of your healthcare team can refer you

Ask a member of staff to fill out a referral form available at the LJMC.

You will initially be offered an assessment meeting with someone from the counselling team. At this point you may wish to discuss whether individual or group art psychotherapy would best suit your needs.

If you decide you would like to go ahead, an appointment will be made for you as soon as a space is available.