Clinical health psychology service (Thurrock)

The Thurrock Clinical Health Psychological Therapy Service, which is based at the Thurrock Community Hospital in Grays, offers psychological assessment, signposting and treatment of adults, couples, families and carers who are referred to us.

What we do

The majority of patients with clinical health problems need psychological support in adjusting to their diagnosis and medication, managing their symptoms, and maintaining the necessary lifestyle changes. Therefore, we offer a patient-centred integrative approach to therapy (Person Centered, CBT and Psychodynamic) to help people with long term physical conditions (*LTC) that may be, depending on the situation, short-term or longer-term psychological therapy. We also offer supervision, training and consultation for staff and link-working for other service professionals.

*LTC – The list below is indicative and not exhaustive:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Chronic Respiratory (e.g. Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD))
  • Chronic Pain (e.g. Arthritis)
  • Other Long Term Conditions* (e.g. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD))

Referrals

Referrals are for people who are experiencing difficulties with physical health, and also emotional suffering related to physical health conditions (usually long standing). We accept referrals of people with LTC mentioned above and health problems that include infertility, medically unexplained symptoms, psychogenic non-epileptic seizures, musculoskeletal problems, injuries, etc. People who need to use this service may also be experiencing psychological trauma in relation to their physical health. We offer appointments to individuals, couples, carers and family groups, where appropriate. Our aim is to help alleviate suffering where possible, help patients adjust to their condition and improve quality of life.

Inclusion criteria

Patients who present with risk, and mental health complexity, such as psychosis or emotionally unstable personality disorder, will be considered with the following criteria incorporated into their care plan through the duration of the clinical health psychological therapy input:

  • Accepted and seen by a Thurrock mental health service, such as First Response Team, with regular review by a psychiatrist and multidisciplinary support during crisis periods.
  • A clear clinical health difficulty is the main reason for the referral, rather than a physical health difficulty as secondary to other areas of psychological distress.

Exclusion criteria

  • People presenting with risk to self and/others and require an MDT MH approach to risk management.
  • People who present with complex mental health difficulties and who require an MDT MH team approach.
  • People who have eating disorders should be referred to the Eating Disorder Service.
  • People who have addictions should be referred to substance misuse service Inclusion Visions Thurrock (IVT) as a main referral route, with triage into CHPS on a case by case basis.
  • People who require intensive pain management with a pain management programme are referred to their local hospital by their GP.

Appointments

Appointments for psychological therapy typically last 50 minutes and are usually held on a weekly or fortnightly basis, but can be arranged more or less frequently if required. Contact by telephone or video-call can also be arranged if it is difficult to visit us in person.

The first two appointments are offered for what is called an initial psychological assessment, and is generally about getting to know you and asking you to tell some of your story, and your health journey. During this assessment, your therapist will discuss with you what you need, whether therapy will be useful for you, and what goals you would like to set for this therapy. A therapeutic contract and a therapeutic plan will follow the assessment which will be reviewed regularly.

Meet the team

Dr Maria Smaga, HCPC Registered Highly Specialist Counselling Psychologist

My name is Maria Smaga and I am the lead Psychologist for Clinical Health Psychology Services in Thurrock. I have trained in integrative therapy, an approach that brings together different elements of specific therapies (Person Centred, CBT and Psychodynamic). As part of my clinical work, I offer psychological assessments and evidence-based psychological interventions drawing from Third Wave Psychological Therapies including Mindfulness for Health and also Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), in line with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

Seeing that there is no panchia or a single approach that can treat every patient for all psychological problems, likewise I believe in an integrated approach to physical and psychological health and health care overall. That is because the body and mind are interconnected and affect each other in various ways –when one is wounded the other is bound to manifest suffering, somehow. Therefore, I consider each and every patient as a whole and from a holistic approach I aim tailor therapy to idiosyncratic needs and personal circumstances of the individual. My personalised therapeutic style will give scope for different treatment options to patients who want to learn different ways to improve symptoms, adjust to physical health challenges and live a fuller life. These options are all tailored and geared towards enabling patients make peace with the painful past, empowering them to live mindfully and in the present moment and therefore eliciting hope for the future.

Lucia Spinosa-Pike, Assistant Psychologist

My name is Lucia Spinosa-Pike, and I am the Assistant Psychologist for the Clinical Health Psychology Services in Thurrock. I completed my undergraduate degree in ‘Abnormal and Clinical Psychology’ in 2018, and my masters’ degree in ‘Foundations in Clinical Psychology’ in 2019. Since completing my degrees, I have worked with various psychological and physical health presentations to support many different clients as well as strengthening my knowledge within this field. I am very passionate about using a person-centred approach in therapeutic settings. I believe that it is important to hold the client at the centre of therapy, and I consider it to be essential that we can work integratively to tailor the intervention to best support the client’s needs.

How to contact us

Mayflower Hospital
Blunts Wall Road
Billericay
Essex
RM16 2PX
Email: Nem-tr.CHPS@nhs.net

Opening times: Monday to Friday 9:00am -5:00pm

Psychology service lead: Dr Maria Smaga