The heart failure psychology service (HFPS) helps people manage the psychological impact of heart failure and improve their quality of life. We view distress through the 'biopsychosocial' lens which means we seek to understand you as a whole person (cognitive, emotional, and behavioural aspects) rather than just focusing on your physical health condition. Based in Hanwell, Ealing (and online), this service is aimed at people who are experiencing mental or emotional difficulties in relation to heart failure.
Within West London NHS Trust, the clinical health psychology team consists of professionals who are focused on bringing a mental health focus into physical health settings. The clinical psychologist dedicated to heart failure is embedded in the Ealing Community Cardiology Service.
The HFPS can help you to:
> Adjust to your diagnosis
> Reduce symptoms of depression or low mood
> Overcome symptoms of anxiety
> Manage living with this particular diagnosis
> Tackle the challenge of making lifestyle changes (for example, starting to exercise)
> Discuss concerns about your future.
There’s a range of ways in which we can help, including:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT):
Its unique goal is to help patients create a rich and meaningful life alongside the existence of pain and suffering. It combines mindfulness skills with the practice of self-acceptance. It aims to help patients accept what is beyond their control, and commit instead to actions that enrich their lives.
Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR):
EMDR is a therapy used to help people recover from traumatic events and the issues they have caused, like flashbacks, distressing thoughts or images, depression, or anxiety. EMDR aims to help the brain to reprocess the memory more fully so that it is no longer so intense. It also functions to desensitise the person to the emotional impact of the memory, so that they can bring the memory to mind without experiencing such strong emotions.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT):
CBT is an evidence-based psychological treatment that has been shown to work for a range of different anxiety disorders and other mental health conditions.
This brief form of therapy is based on the observation that our thoughts/beliefs, emotions, physical sensations, and actions are all interconnected and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in vicious cycles that keep you stuck in unhelpful patterns.
In CBT you will be helped to identify and work with unhelpful and biased ways of thinking and use behavioural techniques/coping strategies to change the way that you respond. In doing so, you should experience a reduction in distress and improve the way that you feel. Unlike more traditional forms of talking therapy, CBT does not necessitate focusing on issues of the past to see improvements in the present.
It's not easy adjusting to a diagnosis of heart failure. Many people experience difficulties such as anxiety. Managing heart failure may be challenging at times, especially if you have additional worries and problems to deal with. Up to 30% of people with heart failure experience anxiety or depression. For patients with additional medical long-term health conditions that figure is even higher. Around 67% of people with a number of long-term physical health conditions experience mental health challenges.
Indeed, heart failure can influence a person’s wellbeing in many different ways. These can include:
- Reduced activity
- Changes in valued roles and responsibilities
- Fear of certain activities
- Stress and worries about the future
- Low mood
- Relational difficulties
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (and traumatic stress more generally)
- Sleep and work problems.
Currently, all referrals to psychology are made by members of the Ealing Community Cardiology Team (usually the specialist nurses). If you feel that you would benefit from being seen please do ask them to refer you.
After you are referred, a Clinical Psychologist will invite you to an assessment. At the meeting, he will explain how the service works and what you can expect in terms of support. After the assessment he will either offer you a block of sessions or recommend another service if he feels that your needs would be better met elsewhere.
Who you might work with
The Clinical Psychologist provides assessments and psychological therapies for people experiencing psychological distress or other mental health conditions. He also works with your cardiac nurse and consultant to provide coordinated care. The team meets regularly to make sure your care is meeting your individual needs.
Please find a list of useful self-help resources: