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Finding a private psychologist

Hello all,

I know some of you have found private psychologists for your child. How did you go about this?

I tried the obvious thing of asking our GP but she said she did not know of anyone and suggested CAMHS might have a better idea. But CAMHS said they did not provide lists of private practitioners as they (CAMHS) offer a service themselves under the NHS. The trouble is that they don't offer one to my son. To me, his main problem appears now to be anxiety about attending school. But because he has a medical condition, which can cause chronic pain and his anxious states present as acute pain, they do not want to deal with him. They say they cannot treat him as "purely anxious" when he has a physical condition which may be causing at least some of the pain. I can appreciate that they feel they don't have the expertise to help him in-house, but why won't they then suggest someone else?

I have talked to a friend who has previously worked as a SENCO, who made a personal recommendation regarding a psychologists she knows and has worked with in the past, but this psychologist lives and works a 3 - 4 hour drive away from where we live so seeing him isn't really viable.

As we live in a small town I have searched for child psychologists in our nearest city and contacted one practice in mid December. I chose them because they had a range of practitioners and thought that at least one of them might offer some hope. I got an acknowledgement saying our details had been passed to the clinic's head, and then nothing more. As it's now over a month I suspect this means the private sector also feels they cannot help.

Currently, my son is home educated but is struggling to study as his sleep patterns and ability to concentrate have gone haywire since his father, my husband, died in September after an 11 month battle with cancer. At some point I have to decide if I can provide enough education at home or if the education authority is likely to come back to me and say that, as he isn't completing what we plan, his current education is inadequate - although I still think it's better than what he'd get at his old school but I don't think we can consider him going back there. He does not get any help with the medical condition either as his physiotherapist said the mental issues were affecting him strongly and she, again understandably, does not feel qualified to deal with them.

I now feel no-one wants to know us but am expecting that at some point someone in the education authority is going to want to wade in with the threats etc. Although I know what to say if they do, I'd rather hoped to avoid having all that battle again. And more than anything, I want my son to have a chance to have a more normal life.

Any ideas?

Re: Finding a private psychologist

Hi Leah,

first of all, my sympathies on the loss of your husband,
Could you follow up the letter you sent with a phone call? I would find it hard to believe a professional practice would ignore a letter from someone who is obviously going through a tough time and in need of support?

It could have gone astray or the person to whom it went could be out due to illness, or any number of reasons.
It is this eternal optimism that kept me going when my daughter was going through SR

I hope you find someone for your son to talk to.
Take care


Re: Finding a private psychologist

Hi Virginia,

I'm afraid my optimism has mostly dried up after a rough 11 years which has seen always at least one person in the family (and more often 2) struggling with a serious health condition and often also struggling to get a diagnosis or support. Whenever we think life is improving we get another knock back, my husband's cancer and recent death being of course the most devastating.

I emailed the private child psychology practice as this seemed the easiest way of contacting them as I could then give them some details. Because of the way other health professionals had viewed the problem I wanted them to have enough information to decide if they wanted to get involved. Money isn't that plentiful and I didn't want us to travel to and pay for an initial appointment just for them to say that they agree with CAMHS and cannot provide any help.

They got the email as I had a reply from someone who I believe is the practice administrator saying that it had been forwarded to the head of the practice and I would get a reply later. I know Christmas has been in the way, but as it's been over a month I would have expected a reply of some sort in that time, if only to say they would/would not do an initial assessment (and if yes, some sort of time frame if no appointments available currently). I have sent another email saying that as I haven't heard from them I am assuming this means they cannot help but that I would have appreciated being told. If they do not believe they can help my son there is no point pursuing things further with this practice.

I'm not sure where else to look at this stage. I have seen a therapist offering NLP based positive therapy where the idea is they look at all the positive things you can do to change your situation but don't know if that is suitable for the newly bereaved. I'm very scared of getting it wrong as my son does not like talking to anyone about subjects that distress him and I will probably therefore only get one shot at this - after that I think he'll just refuse point blank.

Re: Finding a private psychologist


I am so sorry things are just never easy. I think I have sent my condolences before regarding your husband. Life is just sometimes not fair. It brought back all the memories of loosing my brother to cancer a few years ago (his boys were 15 and 17). It took my sister in law awhile the move forward but things certainly improved and she is now doing well - as are the boys.
It is harder for you because of your son's medical condition too. That will get easier too - but like you say - finding where to get the help is just no easy task - and it should be!!

Have you tried ringing/emailing Parent Partnership to see if they can recommend where to go to find a local psychologist. You also really need one that works with children and adolescents.
There is also the UK psychologist association (see below) and they have a 'find a psychologist' section.

I was able to find one via the internet initially - then by word of mouth from a friend and then the doctor referred us to the psychiatrist - who happens to work not far from us.

Association of UK psychologists

AND also this for Child psychologists in the UK

It is hard if you live in a small town but you don't want to be driving far -
See how you go through these and if still no luck - let us know and others on here might be able to offer other advice.

Hang in there - its not your fault that finding the help your son needs seems so hard to find. For some reason help is never forthcoming. Sometimes the school welfare or camhs might even know someone personally they can recommend - so it is a shame they have just closed the door on it.
Take care and let us know how you go.

Re: Finding a private psychologist

Thanks for the support Linda, it is appreciated.

I don't know of any group or organisation that will recommend a private counselling service. Those I have tried so far have just suggested trying CAMHS again. Our GP is sympathetic but can only refer to CAMHS. She thought I might be too hasty in getting the hump with the private practice I'd contacted but I still think they would have got in touch by now if they felt they could offer something, even if there was a wait for the actual appointment. I have told her I will continue to pursue some kind of help for my son as I don't want to go down the CAMHS route again as they have already said several times they cannot help.

I contacted Young Minds, a mental health charity (part of Mind), who have an advice line and a phone back service. Unfortunately they couldn't come up with anything I haven't already tried either. They did suggest contacting a carers' organisation to see if there was anyone in a similar situation. I tried this and found a few people on the forum having problems getting the help their children need with their education but sadly all seemed to be stuck in constant battles with the schools! It really does seem that sympathetic schools are few and far between.

Perhaps it's best to just leave it for this week as my son has a virus and isn't up for thinking about any of this in a positive way. I'll give it another go next week.

Re: Finding a private psychologist

Hi Leah

I meant to add that when I went via the net to find a psychologist - after the first time and my son not liking the person - I went along first and met with the person and outlined my situation and tried to work out if they were suitable. IT was easier to back out that way if they did not seem like the right kind of person.
Try the Pychology organisations that I gave you though as they have a list of all psychologists registered with them - so they should be the ones who can give you some idea of what you are looking for.
The psychologists I visited were also listed on the psychology association sites but I went directly to the psychologist. Not sure which is best - but at least it might get the ball rolling on your side.
All the best and hope your son feels better soon
Take care

Re: Finding a private psychologist


Got an email from the private psychologists admin person saying sorry they had hadn't replied to me, my email lost it the system etc and did I want to contact them.

So I rang up and ended up speaking to the guy in charge and, as I'd suspected when there was a deafening silence in response to my first email, it was because they don't feel they can help. As usual, a sympathetic response to my situation and an acknowledgement that a lot of horrendous things have been happening in the family as regards to illness and death. An agreement that it is a complex situation and we need some help BUT, as usual, it's not me/us who can help. Have you tried .......? Yes. Well have you tried ......? Yes. Have you thought of ......? Yes, they say they cannot help either.

The most depressing part is the conversation revolved around their view that I needed to get help some help with getting an education. Well not really, as the problem is he's not in a place where he can access it, that's why I contacted a psychologist. Yes, well you really need some help in getting him an education. And just stuck in a loop. AARgh!!! My son could study with me at home if he was in a fit place. He needs some psychological help as everyone agrees that's where the bulk of his problems lie. But if even the private sector won't help, where do I go from here? I feel totally demoralised and exhausted tonight. However, I'm not going to be defeated and will look at other options tomorrow when I've had time to come round a bit.

Re: Finding a private psychologist

Still hitting a brick wall. Looking at the register of child psychologists there is only the practice I have already tried (18 miles away) in this area. The next nearest is just over 30 miles away and is just one person rather than a team. I have emailed her but haven't heard back yet. The costs are very high and I worry about spending a shedload of money and getting no further. Assuming she'll even consider seeing him. I think once they know CAMHS have seen him and decided they could not help, then they feel he's not going to benefit from psychological help from anyone - but I don't think that's the case.

I really wanted my son to see a psychologist rather than a general counsellor as the latter are such a mixed bag. He really needs someone who can help him move forward rather than just unload. I'm the one who needs to unload but have just been told there's a 4 month plus wait for bereavement counselling. Would have made the top of the list if I'd asked for it at the time of my husband's death but I was too busy dealing with the practical side of it all to start thinking about counselling. Oh well, in our usual place; everyone's sympathetic and can see we need help but no-one feels able to offer it. Sorry, feeling a bit sorry for my self, but I'm sure it will pass.

Re: Finding a private psychologist

Hi Leah

That is ridiculous that you got the run around like that. Psychologists normally want to help in any way they can. If they are not used to dealing with children though - they may hesitate. But surely he realised that until help was forthcoming then your son wasn't going to get an education.
I really hope you hear back from this lady, as your son does need the help. In the long run - I guess counselling might be better than nothing if she comes up with no ideas. Your son might find off loading at least partly helpful.
And not surprised you didn't feel up to registering for grief counselling yourself straight after - I would imagine most people would be caught up in the practicalities of the situation too.
Hang in there - something will turn up.
Hear from you soon
Take care
Linda xx