What we do

Not everyone has a mental health difficulty following a heart diagnosis, but some people may need psychological support in adjusting with their condition.  

The cardiac rehabilitation psychologist supports adult patients aged 18 and over who are eligible to engage in the cardiac rehabilitation exercise programme after a cardiac episode, and who are emotionally and psychologically affected by this.

Cardiac episodes include angina and myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), heart valve replacements, and heart failure.

Patients who have such heart diagnoses may psychologically present with shock in adjusting to a diagnosis, trauma/post-traumatic stress disorder, low-mood, anxiety, difficulties in managing negative emotions and responses, difficulties with lifestyle changes, concerns with medical management/compliance and worries about the future. It is important to note all of these responses are valid and are part of the healing process. 

If you have other psychological concerns that pre-date your cardiac condition and that may have resurfaced due to your current cardiac episode, you will be supported to access an alternative community service in your local area. 

The service offers individual short-term evidence-based psychological therapies.

These include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR), compassion focused therapies (CFT), and other appropriate psychological interventions tailored to the needs of the patient.

Adopting a trauma-informed practice, the specialist psychologist will place emphasis on fostering a psychological environment that incorporates choice, safety, trust and joint collaboration in order to aid the recovery of the patient. 

Specific stress-management and anxiety management techniques are discussed in the educational workshop and in individual therapy sessions. 

Psychological assessments are conducted face-to-face for up to 60 minutes and, pending treatment, is offered face-to-face and online depending on your level of need.

Telephone sessions are limited and will be discussed with you if you require this service.

We offer psychological educational teaching sessions as part of the cardiac rehab exercise programme. If you are an inpatient on the cardiology ward 10 West, you can refer to the cardiac rehab psychologist to support you with your stay in hospital, which can often be distressing.  

Outpatient clinics run at both the Royal Free Hospital and Barnet Hospital. The times and days are set and cannot be changed.

We accept patient self-referrals and referrals from GPs — all of whom must be under a Royal Free London cardiology consultant.

We also welcome internal referrals from our own cardiology consultants, cardiac rehabilitation specialist nurses, exercise technicians and ward staff across our entire trust. You can speak to a member of your medical team who can support you to refer.

The psychology service is limited to specific London geographical areas, and this will be discussed with you by a member of the team.

There are exceptions to the referral criteria — more information can be found in our patient leaflets.

If the cardiac rehabilitation psychology service is not the appropriate service for your psychological needs, you will be supported in finding a suitable community service. 

For more information about the cardiac rehabilitation psychology service, please contact the service on email via rf-tr.cardiacrehabpsychology@nhs.net or call the cardiac rehabilitation service at the Royal Free Hospital on 020 7830 2871 or at Barnet Hospital on 020 8216 4824.