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What happens in a session?

What happens at a psychology appointment?

An outpatient psychology appointment might take place at a range of sites within the ABUHB health board. We will try to accommodate where is most convenient for you where possible. Occasionally, the team may also offer home/school/ward visits if appropriate.

Attend Anywhere appointments

Because of COVID-19, we have been unable to see lots of people face-to-face as we would usually. This means we now use an online app called ‘Attend Anywhere’ to hold some of our psychology sessions. Attend Anywhere works in the same way as other video calling apps, where you will see and hear us on camera and we will be able to see and hear you. When you receive an appointment from us, we will send out instructions on how to use Attend Anywhere. After the pandemic, we hope to keep offering Attend Anywhere as an option for young people or families who might like to have sessions virtually for different reasons. Online appointments may feel a little different, but we can talk through this together.

First appointment

First appointments will normally last between 45 minutes and an hour, when we will meet with you and your parents/guardians. You may have met us at some point before this though, for example at a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) appointment.

At a first appointment it is helpful for us to hear all about you, your life, hobbies, school/college/work, friends and family, as well as the background to your medical condition.  We will also think together about the difficulties that you have been experiencing, how these are impacting on your life and condition, and how you and your family cope. 

First appointments involve some talking and listening and sometimes drawing and playing with toys together too.


We do

We don’t

Like to talk to you

Wear white coats

Like to listen to you

Give you medicine or examinations

Ask about your thoughts and feelings or things that might feel difficult

Read minds

Ask about your life at home, school and with your friends

Make decisions for you

Play games and do drawing

Judge you

Take your worries seriously and do our best to help them feel easier

Ignore what you feel



If it is thought that it would be helpful for you to return for further appointments, this will normally be arranged in the first appointment. Follow up appointments will allow us to get to know you better, to talk about things that may be difficult in more depth, and to come up with a plan for supporting you and your family.

We use a number of different evidence-based therapies to try and help. That is, we know from research that these can be helpful for children and young people experiencing the same kinds of difficulties as you. These might include, among others:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy 
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (MIND)
    Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (YouTube)
  • Compassion Focussed Therapy
     ~ Compassion-focused therapy (CFT) aims to help promote mental and emotional healing by encouraging people to be compassionate toward themselves and other people. Compassion, both toward the self and toward others, is an emotional response believed by many to be an important aspect of well-being.
  • Motivational strategies
     ~ Working together to break down a bigger goal into smaller, achievable chunks. Thinking and planning about how to feel motivated to reach these goals.
  • Systemic Approaches
     ~ This means working with the whole family, and other systems around a young person with a medical condition, for example, school or your medical team
     ~ We may meet with (older) children on their own, with parents on their own, or with the whole family together



When we invite you to an appointment, we will send out a questionnaire called the PedsQL™. This is a really useful way for us to get a better picture of your emotions, your school and social life, and some of the challenging you may be facing. We will ask that you bring this questionnaire to your first appointment.

The PedsQL™ is short and typically takes less than 5 minutes to complete. It is not a test, and there are no right or wrong answers. We are interested in your and your family’s individual perspectives. The psychologist at your appointment will give you further instructions on how to complete the questionnaire, and support you throughout. We may ask you to complete the PedsQL™ again at some point, so that we can see whether your responses have changed.


When we finish working together, we may ask you to complete a satisfaction questionnaire so that we can understand what we did well and how we could improve our service. During the course of your appointments, your psychologist might ask you to complete some other questionnaires too. These will depend on what’s going on for you. Your psychologist will be happy to answer any questions you have about any of the questionnaires we use.