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Clinical psychology in children’s burns services

What do clinical psychologists do?

Clinical psychologists aim to help children, young people and families in times of difficulty. They listen to your worries and find a helpful way forward. They do not give medicines or do any physical examinations.

Dr Charlotte Wright is the clinical psychologist who works with the Burns Team to support families after a burn injury.

What you may feel after a burn injury

Burn injuries range from small to more serious or life-threatening. People react in different ways so not all of these feelings or responses may apply to you.

We know that burn injuries can often be very upsetting. It is normal for people to have emotional and physical reactions following the injury such as:

  • Feeling numb, shocked or exhausted. It is normal to feel overwhelmed by what has happened.
  • Feeling more tearful and sad. You may find yourself crying over small things.
  • Feeling nervous or jumpy. You might find it harder to concentrate or remember things. Sometimes people get worries about returning to the place of the accident.
  • Having flashbacks or memories of the traumatic event while awake or having dreams or nightmares about what happened. This can be very upsetting and scary and you might find that to begin with it is harder to get to sleep.

This is normal and is all part of recovering as your body and mind try to understand what has happened. They usually fade away over time and quite often no further input is needed.

However, sometimes these reactions do not go away on their own. When this happens it can be useful to talk to someone trained to help, such as a clinical psychologist.

How can we help?

Children, young people, and families may see a clinical psychologist for many different reasons after a burn injury.

We can help children with:

  • dealing with the long term effects of a burn
  • managing the aftercare
  • dealing with scarring and coping with any change in appearance
  • difficulties returning to school

We can talk with parents and carers or siblings about:

  • their child’s health and development
  • relationships within the family and or school
  • changes in their child’s behaviour
  • feeling responsible and guilty for what has happened

Sometimes clinical psychologists work directly with children and families and at other times they may suggest other professionals or community groups that may be able to help.

What sort of help can be offered?

This depends on your needs. It may involve working with the family as a whole or working with the child or parents or carers on their own. Sometimes the psychologist only meets with people once and at other times they may talk to you about having more than one meeting.

In the first meeting, the  psychologist will introduce themselves and see how you are coping with what has happened. They will listen to the current difficulties that you may be having.

They will also ask about family life and your current lifestyles such as school, friendships, and work. This information helps the clinical psychologist to get to know you and to understand any difficulties.

How can I meet the clinical psychologist?

The clinical psychologist gets referrals from other team members including nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, the play therapist, hospital consultants, and sometimes general practitioners (GPs).

If you would like to talk to Charlotte Wright, please ask any member of staff on the ward or professional involved in your care, and they will help to arrange this. Sometimes there is a waiting list to see a clinical psychologist.

What about confidentiality?

What you say will be kept confidential, unless we are concerned that there is a risk to you or others.  In these cases, we are legally bound to share this information with relevant professionals and agencies but we will always aim to discuss this with you.

Sometimes it may be helpful for information to be shared with other members of the team who are working with you. This will be talked about with you first and you can decide what you would prefer not to be shared.

Contact us

If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact:

Charlotte Wright
Paediatric Psychology Department
3 Northumberland Road
S10 2TD
0114 271 7296

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: PSY7

Resource Type: Article

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United Kingdom

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