The child psychology department in Southampton works closely with the congenital cardiac team to provide a range of therapies for children, young people and their families based on their individual needs.
Psychologists work as part of the hospital team alongside doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers and are often asked to meet with children and their families by their clinicians.
Our psychology service gives patients and parents a chance to think and talk about things with a specialist and come up with some new ideas for managing difficulties. The team can help them think of ways of reducing any stress in their life and any other factors that might be affecting their wellbeing.
They can talk through any illness or treatment that a child might be having to help them understand it a bit better and help them think of ways of feeling brave when they need to have medical procedures which they might be worried about.
Cath Norman and Kate Vasey are clinical psychologists and offer support for children with heart conditions and their families.
Kate trained as a clinical psychologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, qualifying in 2011. She worked in a specialist paediatric psychology team in London for six years before joining the team at Southampton in 2018. Outside of work, Kate enjoys spending time outside going for walks, jogging or pottering in her garden.
Cath undertook her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Southampton between 2010 and 2013, and has worked in the child psychology department ever since. Outside of work she likes to spend time with friends and go for the occasional jog.
It is normal for children with heart conditions and their family members to experience a range of emotions in response to very difficult circumstances.
Finding out someone has a heart condition and having treatment for it can be distressing for a child and for their family. Children who have heart conditions may experience a number of hospital visits, operations and medical procedures and times of separation from family members.
Cath and Kate offer emotional support to children and young people with heart conditions up to the age of 18. They also offer emotional support to parents or caregivers, siblings and the wider family unit.
They can provide the following support:
• Help to prepare your child for operations, treatment and appointments, working alongside the play specialist team
• Give families time to talk about a new diagnosis of a heart condition
• Help children adjust to living with a heart condition
• Manage symptoms of post-traumatic stress (including flashbacks and nightmares)
• Help with the transition to adult cardiac services
• Support families if they are staying on Ocean Ward long-term.
The psychology team try to be as flexible as possible and can either meet by patients’ bedsides or somewhere more private in another space on the ward. They can also offer appointments at their main base in Wordsworth House by Ronald McDonald House.
Support after returning home
Parents of a child has a cardiac consultant at Southampton Children’s Hospital are welcome to contact the child psychology team at any point during their child’s stay in hospital or at any point after they have gone home.
When the adrenalin that helped parents cope and stay focussed on their child during an admission has worn off, they may find they have a chance to reflect and think about what they have been through. It is at this point that many families contact the child psychology team. This support can include talking on the phone, looking into local support if needed or coming back to see us here in the child psychology department.
Links to info on anxiety management and other support are available here.
The team can be contacted on 023 8120 4657 or via:
Child Clinical Psychology, Southampton Children’s Hospital, Wordsworth House, Mailpoint 133, Tremona Road, Southampton, SO16 6YD