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It’s good to talk

The practical challenges of living with a bleeding disorder are well documented, yet there can also be a significant mental health impact on individuals and their families. It isn’t something that’s often talked about but it’s there for most people at some point, whether you have a bleeding disorder or someone you love and care for does. 

Very few people receive NHS treatment for the psychological impact of living with a bleeding disorder, which brings a greater need for emotional support from other sources. We hope the following information will help you find appropriate provision if you are seeking emotional and mental health support. 

 What is talking therapy? 

Therapy offers a secure, confidential space to talk about life and things that feel confusing, stressful or painful. Therapists are trained to be objective, attentive and non-judgmental – an outside pair of ears to help guide you towards new ways of coping.  

 How will I feel? 

Everyone’s experience is personal and it can be hard dealing with emotions. It can take several sessions to feel improvements, but even after a single session you may feel encouraged by having a dedicated person to talk to.  

 How can I find a therapist? 

There is no legal obligation for someone who sets up as a counselling service to be trained or registered. However, professional therapists go through rigorous training, so proper accreditation is important.   

Start by asking if any support is available from your haemophilia centre: there are a few specialist psychologists based in haemophilia centres. You may also be able to access talking therapies via your GP. If that isn’t available you might decide to look for private support from a counsellor or therapist accredited by a reputable professional body. The BACP and UKCP registers carry up-to-date lists of psychotherapists and counsellors and the BPC and BPS regulate psychoanalysts and psychologists (websites are listed at the end). Some of these terms are used interchangeably but usually refer to the method or process the therapist will use. There is a helpful comparison on the NHS Choices website (again, see end). It’s also worth checking your chosen therapist has some experience or interest in your particular area of concern.  

Who is the right therapist for me? 

Since therapy is very personal, you need to feel comfortable entrusting the therapist with sometimes very private feelings. Usually a therapist will offer a consultation, sometimes free – it’s an opportunity for you both to mutually decide to continue working together. Personality fit is as important as their experience and qualifications. If you pursue therapy, remember that difficult emotions will arise and trust the process – but there’s no shame in changing if it doesn’t seem to be working. You can read more about finding the right therapist at: itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/frequently-asked-questions/finding-the-right-therapist 

 I’m thinking about seeking a professional therapist. What questions should I clarify first?  

  • How many sessions will I have? Counselling tends to be a short-term intervention, psychotherapy usually continues over the long term. 
  • What type of therapy do you specialise in? You can find a helpful glossary at: itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/what-is-therapy/types-of-therapy 
  • How much does it cost? Therapy can be anything from £25-£100 a session. Some therapists offer concessions or a sliding scale, dependant on income.  
  • What happens if I miss a session? Some therapists will want payment if you don’t turn up; others have a cancellation policy.  
  • What happens if I want to take a holiday – will I still have to pay? As above, some therapists will want payment even with notice – best to manage expectations up front. 
  • Will the counselling be confidential? Confidentiality is deeply embedded in therapists’ ethical framework. To comply with the law in extreme cases, e.g. terrorism or abuse, there may be a break in confidentiality. 
  • Will you make notes during the session, and if so, what happens to these?  
  • Can I contact you in between sessions?

 Find out more 

BACP bacp.co.uk 

UKCP psychotherapy.org.uk 

BPC bpc.org.uk 

BPS bps.org.uk 

NHS Choices nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/types-of-therapy.aspx