How the psychology service can help you

Living with a primary or secondary immunodeficiency may affect you emotionally in a variety of ways. Talking therapies can help make sense of difficult emotions, thoughts, and behaviours such as:

  • Fear, low-mood or anger associated with your immunodeficiency symptoms.
  • Distress related to a previous health event or treatment which was traumatic for you (e.g., nightmares, distressing images, intrusive memories).
  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks.
  • Worries about changes to your body.
  • Concerns about or distress when undergoing treatment, procedures, or operations.
  • Managing a health diagnosis and doing what you have been advised to do, including taking medications, or other treatments.
  • Worries about the future, fear about ill health and dying.
  • Worries around the potential impact on personal relationships, family and friends, work, study, or other areas of your life.

For some people, having health problems can bring up difficult memories from a long time ago or other problems in their life can make it more difficult to manage health problems and medical treatment. The above list is not exhaustive, and these experiences are not unusual. Often, they pass with time; however, for some they can help you make sense of your experience, by providing space to talk.

Who provides the service and what does it involve?

The service is part of the Royal Free immunology department and involves qualified psychologists offering short-term one-to-one talking therapies. There is a range of talking therapies available, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), compassion-focused therapy (CFT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These therapies can support people to live with illness in a way that reduces the negative impact on their lives and relationships.

Your psychologist will explain the different types of talking therapies available to you, and you will be supported in deciding which therapy best suits you. Additional information on talking therapies can be found at the end of this leaflet.

How to be referred

To arrange a referral, please speak to a member of staff in clinic, on the immunology ward or talk to your immunology consultant. You can also email the service at:

The psychology clinic currently runs all day on Tuesdays, Wednesday morning and Friday morning at the Royal Free Hospital and video appointments are also possible.

What happens once I am referred to the immunology psychology service?

Following a referral, an initial 50-minute assessment appointment will be arranged. During this session, you will have the chance to discuss issues which are concerning you, alongside getting to know your psychologist. In some cases, a community-based service may be the best place to meet your requirements and the psychologist can make this onward referral for you. Please note that attending a psychology assessment does not mean you will automatically receive therapy.

Confidentiality and how your records are treated

The things you talk about in your appointment will remain confidential between you and the psychologist you are seeing, and the clinical team (the doctors, nurses, or other clinicians in your care).

Information about your appointment, including details of what you discussed with your psychologist, is stored on the trust’s electronic patient record. This record would also include any email exchanges or telephone contact you may have, or conversations the psychologist may have with others about you. Your psychologist will also write to your GP or referring service providing them with similar information.

If there is something you would prefer the team not to know, then please let your psychologist know so that you can discuss this and work out what is most helpful. There is an option of certain information being stored in a secure folder that only the psychologist or counsellors working in the Trust can access.

We will not share your information with professionals or organisations not involved in your care without your consent. The only time we can share information without your agreement is when we feel that doing so would protect you or someone else from serious harm, or if we are required to do so by law and in such instances, they will try to let you know and hopefully find a way of involving others in your care with your agreement.

If you have any questions about how your information is shared, please speak to your psychologist.

People with complex mental health difficulties

If you have complex mental health difficulties, suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviours, specialist services in the community are more appropriate for your needs. The psychologist or your referring service can explain this further and put you in touch with the people who can provide you with the best support.

The immunology psychology service is not a crisis/emergency service and cannot provide a rapid response in a mental health crisis. If you require urgent mental health support, please contact 111 / 999, contact your GP, or go to your nearest emergency department.

Useful contacts

If you are feeling distressed and need to speak to someone out of hours, please contact Samaritans on 116 123 (24/7) or call 111 for advice.

If you have any comments or feedback about our service, you can speak to us directly or contact the patient advice and liaison service (PALS) on 020 7472 6447 or via the online form.