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Psychotherapy Service – Sunderland

This leaflet may not be reproduced in whole or in part, without the permission of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

  • Introduction

    This leaflet explains what psychotherapy involves and what happens if you are referred to the Psychotherapy Service.

  • Why have psychotherapy?

    Sometimes personal problems may feel overwhelming and while it may help to talk to family or friends at these times, at other times, particularly if difficulties continue for months or even years, it works better to talk to a professionally experienced therapist.

  • What is psychotherapy?

    Psychoanalytic psychotherapy (sometimes called psychodynamic psychotherapy) and group analytic therapy involve a particular approach to talking about problems. This focuses on how you see yourself, both as an individual and in relation to other people. Psychotherapy provides a space to think about how you relate to others and the part you play in things going wrong or right for you. It also offers time to think about how your relationships with others, now and in the past, influence and shape your experience of who you are and what you do. This approach involves trying to understand patterns of behaviour and mixed feelings, and offers you a chance to change and develop.

    Psychotherapy is a working partnership between patient and therapist or group. The process of change can feel uncertain, confusing, or sometimes lonely. Remembering your past and understanding the emotional links to the present can be painful and difficult, even if it is a relief to talk and feel understood.

    Bringing out painful or difficult feelings is hard work and takes time. Because of this psychotherapists give serious attention to the arrangements for therapy and aim to provide a consistent and reliable setting to help support the process of change.

    Group and individual sessions always take place with the same therapist, at the same time, in the same room and on the same day of the week.

  • Is there a downside?

    Psychotherapy is not for everyone. It can make things feel worse at times as painful and difficult issues are explored. We realise that some people should not take this risk and sometimes recommend that psychotherapy is not the right approach for them.

  • Your contact with the Psychotherapy Service

    Before you are offered an appointment to see a psychotherapist we send you a confidential questionnaire to complete and return before your first meeting. After you return your questionnaire we will send you an assessment appointment. If you prefer not to complete the questionnaire you can still have an appointment but you will need to let us know that you want one.

  • Assessment for psychotherapy

    The assessment for psychotherapy provides an opportunity for you and a therapist to think about whether psychotherapy is right for you. If it is, we consider with you what approach would be best for you: if not, we will try to help by suggesting other forms of treatment. The assessment meetings give you a chance to find out what therapy would involve and to ask questions.

    You will usually have at least two assessment meetings – sometimes more than two. Occasionally people find that this initial consultation is all that they require. However, if you and your assessing therapist decide on psychotherapy we will offer you either group analytic therapy, couple therapy or individual psychodynamic psychotherapy. These are the main types of therapy we provide.

  • Your therapy

    After assessment you may have a short wait before the right vacancy becomes available for therapy. The therapy may be with a different therapist. During this time we will keep in touch with you by letter, or you can telephone at any time if you feel you have been kept waiting too long.

    When a space becomes available, your therapist will contact you to arrange a preliminary meeting. This is a chance to decide on practical arrangements and to consider your expectations for therapy.

    Most therapy is weekly. However, your therapist may suggest a different frequency if this would be helpful.

    Group sessions usually last 90 minutes: individual sessions are usually for 50 minutes. Therapy is offered at Sycamore, Hopewood Park during working hours and at a time that you and your therapist have arranged. Some therapies may take place at other suitable locations by prior agreement, but scope to provide therapy elsewhere may be limited and not always possible.

    Psychotherapy usually takes between six months and two or three years, occasionally longer. Your therapist will expect you to attend regularly. Of course, people fall ill and have holidays and sometimes unexpected things happen that make it difficult to get to your sessions, but the important thing is to let your therapist know if you cannot attend. Lost time cannot usually be made up and session times cannot be extended.

  • Confidentiality

    We are aware of the sensitive nature of psychotherapy conversations and protect confidentiality, sharing information only as necessary and with your interests in mind. This means that your GP, as well as the person who referred you if this was not your GP, will be sent an initial letter by your assessing therapist explaining why psychotherapy may help. A copy of the letter will be given to you if you want one. Your psychotherapist will also let the referrer know when therapy starts and ends and may sometimes send brief written updates. These communications are in your interest. If you have any concerns about this process, you should talk about them to your assessing therapist.

  • Questions

    If you have any questions about the psychotherapy service, the assessment process or the process of therapy, you should discuss these with the therapist you see.

  • The Psychotherapy Team

    The psychotherapy service team is a multi-disciplinary team. Its members have a background in a broad range of mental health professions. Team members have completed specialist training in either individual or group psychotherapy.

  • Teaching

    We are a training centre for psychotherapy. Clinical Associates work with us as part of their specialist psychotherapy training. Clinical Associates are mental health professionals or trainee Counselling Psychologists nearing the end of their training. All Clinical Associates receive clinical supervision for their work with us.

  • Travel information

    Contact Nexus Traveline: Tel: 0871 200 22 33


  • What if I have a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint about the service?

    If you want to make a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint you can:
    • talk to the people directly involved in your care
    • ask a member of staff for a feedback form, or complete a form on the Trust website (click on the ‘Contact Us’ tab)
    • telephone the Complaints Department 0191 245 6672
    • email Please note that information sent to the Trust via email is sent at your own risk
    • We are always looking at ways to improve services. Your feedback allows us to monitor the quality of our services and act upon issues that you bring to our attention.
    You can provide feedback in the following ways:
    - the quickest way for you to do this is to complete our short online survey at
    - complete a Points of You survey, available from staff.

  • Useful contacts

    • Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
    The Patient Advice and Liaison Service can be contacted for advice and support on Freephone: 0800 328 4397 or
    Tel: 0191 566 7074

    • Royal College of Psychiatrists Psychotherapy Factsheet
    Also available from the Patient Information Centre
    Tel: 0191 246 7288

  • References

    Psychotherapies, October 2014, Royal College of Psychiatrists

  • Contact details

    Psychotherapy Service
    Hopewood Park, Waterworks Road, Ryhope
    Sunderland, SR2 0NB
    Tel: 0191 566 7185
    Fax: 0191 566 7186

  • Information about content, other formats and version control

    Further information about the content, reference sources or production of this leaflet can be obtained from the Patient Information Centre. If you would like to tell us what you think about this leaflet please get in touch.

    This information can be made available in a range of formats on request (eg Braille, audio, larger print, easy read, BSL or other languages). Please contact the Patient Information Centre
    Tel: 0191 246 7288

    Published by the Patient Information Centre

    2020 Copyright, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

    Ref, PIC/643/0219 February 2019 V5 Tel: 0191 246 7288

    Review date 2022