Welcome to The Clinical Health Psychology Service.
For over 30 years, our department has supported patients coming for treatment at Salford Royal Hospital.
We have different specialities providing support to individuals with various physical health conditions in out-patient and in-patient settings. Our work aims to reduce the impact of the condition on the individual and improving their quality of life by helping them to adjust to and cope with their physical health condition.
We are mainly based in the Clinical Sciences Building (CSB), although some of our team members also work from different locations including wards within the main hospital, specialist ward areas off-site and outlying medical units. One of our teams also works at Newbury Place Health Centre based in Prestwich.
Please note that we are not a crisis team and we are not able to provide on-the-day appointments.
If you feel that you need urgent mental health support, or you do not feel able to keep yourself safe, please contact your or GP, your local crisis team or attend A&E.
If you are an inpatient at Salford Royal, or you do attend A&E, then you may be referred to the Mental Health Liaison Team. There is also an Out of Hours Helpline available.
We work closely with medical and allied health professionals in each of these teams to deliver high quality psychological care alongside medical care. Some of our clinicians have the title of ‘Dr’ but we are not medical doctors and do not prescribe medication.
Your clinician will listen carefully to you and try to help you make sense of your experiences and your difficulties. Together, you will agree the best way to try and support you and make a plan of action. You will usually be asked to try out different strategies, or reflect on what you’ve spoken about in sessions, at home in between appointments. We follow national guidance in terms of the most effective models or approaches to use for different difficulties. We will also consider any previous experiences you have had of psychological treatments, and any preferences that you have.
Many people feel anxious before their assessment, so you are not alone if you’re feeling this way. The assessment will usually take up to an hour and can be across more than one session. You will be asked to complete some questionnaires either before your appointment, or whilst you are in the waiting room.
The assessment will involve speaking to a member of the team about how you are, what is going well, and what you might be finding difficult. We will decide together whether our service is appropriate for you, in which case you may be added to the waiting list for individual support. Alternatively, you may be signposted to another service, offered a group intervention, or advised to explore self-help options.
Following the assessment, we will send yourself, the referrer and/ or your GP, a written report of the assessment and a care plan for next steps.
When you attend appointments, your clinician may take some written notes, which will be used as a reminder of what you have discussed and any actions to be taken. After you have met with your clinician, they will enter an electronic note onto your medical record. Any paper/written notes will then be placed in confidential waste. Your electronic notes can only be accessed by clinicians within the psychology department.
However, clinicians are bound by duty to pass on information if they feel that it reflects an intention to hurt either oneself, or someone else. These are extreme circumstances, and wherever possible the clinician would raise this with you in the first instance.
Information which is shared with other professionals involved in your care, for example, your GP, might take the form of brief details about; the reason for seeing you, any risk concerns, anxiety or depression scores relating to your health condition, and the type of/amount of sessions offered.
A letter would usually be sent after assessment, at discharge, and sometimes in between as an update, and this will be discussed with you at assessment.
We will not...
- Leave information in public sight
- Leave computers with personal information logged on
- Confirm people’s details to a third party without ensuring they have the right to know the information
- Store personally identifiable information on any portable device unless it has been encrypted
We ask that you let us know as soon as possible if you need to cancel an appointment, preferably at least 24 hours prior, so that we can offer that slot to someone else. We will contact you to arrange a further appointment or send one via the post.
In any instance of a clinician needing to cancel, for example, due to an emergency or to illness, we will do our best to inform you as soon as is possible.
- Cancel your appointment - use this online form notify us.
All our clinicians use talking therapies, which look at helping you to make positive changes to your life. These might be changes in behaviour (things you do), changes in your cognitions (the way you think), or changes in your relationship with yourself, or with other people. It is likely to also include exploring some of your past experiences, and how these have impacted on you. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to talk about everything you’ve experienced.
The department is made up of clinicians from a number of psychology professions who use a variety of psychological therapies. We all take into account the 'mind-body link', which can help you to understand why you are feeling the way you are.
The physical symptoms resulting from a physical health condition can affect the way you think, feel and behave, and in turn your thoughts and feelings can affect your body:
This mind-body link can have negative effects. For example, someone may feel anxious or stressed (emotion) and notice their physical health condition gets worse (physical symptoms). They may have thoughts like “I won’t let it beat me” or “I am weak if I give in” (thought) and therefore push themselves to do more (behaviour). However, this may then increase the person’s stress or anxiety, thereby further worsening their physical symptoms. The person may then become stuck in a vicious cycle.
The mind body link can also have positive effects and you can use the mind -body link to help look after your health. For example, when using relaxation techniques such as listening to calming music, mindful breathing or meditating, you may feel less tense and reduce stress. The physical effects will include slower breathing or lower blood pressure. This is the mind-body link having a positive effect on your physical and mental state.
Below are some of the different psychological therapies that our clinicians may be trained in:
Acceptance and commitment therapy is a therapeutic approach used within the Clinical Health Psychology department at Salford Royal. ACT, pronounced as the word ‘act’, aims to help people learn to live a meaningful life while effectively managing the struggles that life inevitably brings, especially if living with a health condition.
What does it involve?
- Learning psychological skills such as mindfulness - to help us manage painful thoughts and feelings effectively so that they no longer have such an impact or influence over us
- Gaining clarity as to what is important and meaningful in our lives i.e., our values, and using this as motivation to make changes for the better.
Overall, rather than trying to control or get rid of our struggles, we can use ACT to learn to live life now and fully with and not in spite of our struggles.
CBT is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and actions are all connected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.
CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them into smaller parts. You are shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis. Although CBT cannot cure the physical symptoms of conditions, it can help people cope better with symptoms.
CFT is a kind of talking therapy. It is particularly useful for people who experience high levels of shame and/or self-criticism. This might include people who find it difficult to trust others, or those who find it hard to show kindness towards themselves or accept it from others.
CFT draws on lots of different ideas and techniques to help you learn how to be more compassionate towards yourself, and to feel safe and capable in a world that can seem overwhelming. It involves learning new skills and trying out different strategies and practicing these in between each session.
Some of our clinicians use aspects of mindfulness within their individual sessions with people. Mindfulness helps people who have a long-term health condition to develop paying attention to the here and now and to what is going on in the body and mind and the world around us. We can often get into negative patterns of thinking which affect our mood and behaviour without even realising it.
Mindfulness can help us develop a better awareness of the way the mind works in relation to health conditions, which helps us notice what is happening in the moment, allowing us to choose different responses to difficult or unhelpful automatic reactions.
EMDR is a psychotherapeutic approach, initially destined for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Shapiro, 1989). Several clinicians in the department are trained to deliver Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). NICE guidance recommends this therapy for trauma and many individuals have some trauma or adversity in their past and this can complicate their adjustment to a physical health condition. We also know that medical treatments and admissions can be traumatic in themselves. During your assessment, your psychological specialist will decide whether the EMDR treatment protocol is likely to help. Some people with early trauma may be referred to primary care psychological services if the trauma is unrelated to health adjustment.
We have a team of specialist therapists including Clinical Psychologists, Counselling Psychologists, Health Psychologists, Assistant Psychologists and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural) therapists.
Find out more below:
Dr John Sorensen
Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Department
Dr Sorensen is a clinical psychologist with special interest in the implementation of psychological methods in the ICU context, Mental Health and leadership development and models.
His research and clinical interests include severe and enduring mental health problems, personality disorders, dementia, acute forms of psychological distress including grief and research into leadership with particular focus on Emotional Intelligence in the workplace.
His accreditations include BA, MSc. DClinPSy and he currently holds membership with The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
Throughout his career, he has produced various publications including books, book chapters and research papers across different mental health and leadership topics.
Dr Sara Low
Consultant Counselling Psychologist
Dr Low studied her undergraduate degree at the University of Kent before taking up a doctorate at the University of Surrey, where she qualified in 2007.
She started her career working in IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) before moving to Salford Royal Hospital two years later.
Here she spent her initial eight years working in the Renal Department, before moving to General Medicine and finally the Chronic Fatigue service.
During the pandemic, Dr Low helped to set up the long COVID service which is now an integral part of the Clinical Health Psychology department.
Her accreditations include PsychD Counselling and Psychotherapeutic Psychology and BSc Psychology with Computing.
Her clinical and research interests include the link between chronic fatigue and trauma and how personality factors affect chronic fatigue.
Dr Jessica Dean
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Dr Dean is a consultant clinical psychologist who has led the Renal Psychology Service at Salford Royal Hospital since 2007.
Prior to this, she held clinical psychologist roles at NHS Cheshire and Wirral NHS Trust, NHS Greater Glasgow PCT and Lomond and Argyll PCT.
As a trainee, her core placements included Adult, Learning Disabilities, Child and Adolescent with specialist placements in Neuropsychology and Physical Health.
She has a special interest in the psychological factors involved in medical compliance difficulties, shared decision making, the use of Motivational Interviewing in medical settings, the psychological factors involved in compliance with renal medical treatments and psychological assessment of live kidney donors.
She currently holds membership with the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP).
Dr Emma Solomon
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Dr Solomon is a consultant clinical psychologist leading the General Medicine Clinical Psychology team. Her team provide specialist psychological intervention to patients with a range of medical conditions.
She began her career as a researcher in the Psychological Medicine Group at the Christie Hospital. Her research at this time focused on coping with cancer.
She then moved into mental health where she worked with individuals with a variety of challenges, including anxiety, depression, trauma, eating difficulties and addictions.
In 2009, she joined Salford Royal’s Clinical Health department. At this time, she specialised in supporting patients with bowel and gut issues. She was trustee of the IBS Network, a leading UK charity for people with IBS during this time. Whilst working with IBS, she discovered the benefit of mind-body therapies for symptoms that were not responding to traditional medical solutions.
Dr Solomon has a special interest in trauma and resilience, endocrinology, women’s health, and the mind-body relationship as it relates to health outcomes and is trained in evidence-based interventions to help patients. These include cognitive and behavioural therapy, mindfulness-based approaches, acceptance and commitment therapy, compassion-based therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy and trauma-focused CBT.
Her team cover over 15 medical specialities including gynaecology, dermatology, diabetes, rheumatology, oncology, immunology, and critical care, amongst others.
Her recent research have focused on physical health, specifically, coping with cancer and adjustment to diabetes.
Her professional accreditations include BSc (Hons), MPhil, DClinPsy, CPsychol, CHyp, AFBPsS and she is registered with the British Psychological Society (BPS).
Dr Sarah Kelly
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Dr Kelly qualified in 2005 with D Clin Psychol from the University of Liverpool and Msc Sport and Exercise Psychology from Staffordshire University.
Sarah specialises in working with adults with Intestinal Failure and is the lead psychologist for both the Intestinal Failure and Gastrointestinal Psychology Service based at Salford Royal Hospital.
Sarah uses cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), Acceptance and commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) and Mindfulness based approaches in her therapeutic work.
Her research and clinical interests include Gastrointestinal dysmotility, Intestinal Failure, Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS-IF), Inflammatory Bowel Disease, mind-body interactions, Compassion-Focused approaches and Trauma-Informed care.
She currently holds memberhsips with the Association for Clinical Psychologists (ACP-UK), Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) and British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN).
Please see each speciality below for further information:
Living with kidney disease clearly has a big impact on the way you live life and for some it can be a difficult and upsetting experience; there may be worries about treatment options, the future, traumatic events surrounding diagnosis or about some aspect of being investigated and treated within kidney care; decisions to be made or questions to ask. Clinical health psychologists specialise in using psychology with problems that are found in health settings.
The ME/CFS Service supports people who have a diagnosis of (CFS), also referred to as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). You might also have had your difficulties labelled as Fibromyalgia, or Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome.
The weight management service provides psychological and emotional support to individuals who are currently accessing the Medical Weight Management programme at Salford Royal. We work closely with our medical and dietetic colleagues in the service.
The Expert by Experience patient group is a group of people who are using or have used the Clinical Health Psychology Service in the past. The group helps shape how the service is planned, delivered and evaluated. The opinions of our expert by experience patients are key to bringing about improvements in the way Clinical Health Psychology services are provided. We know that effective patient involvement can improve service access and quality for future service users.
Directions to Clinical Health Psychology
We are located on the ground floor of the Clinical Sciences Building, with the entrance opposite A&E. You should receive a map with your appointment letter, which will include the location of our car parks. The most convenient car park for accessing the Clinical Sciences Building is the North car park. Please be mindful that there can be queues for parking at times, so allow plenty of time to get to your appointment.
Use this link to access directions to Salford Royal.
As a service, we pride ourselves on being inclusive. We are aware that illness and disease affect everyone and we will strive to offer a responsive and sensitive service to you whatever your lifestyle or faith, and take account of your cultural and linguistic needs. We are also open to receive feedback on our service to continually improve and encourage those of you who have attended the department to let us know your experiences and any ideas you have.
There is wheelchair-friendly access to the building via a ramp. Please let us know if you require any other adjustments to enable you to access the building.