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Antea Worldwide Palliative Care Conference

Rome, 12-14 November 2008


Presenting author The Role of Clinical Psychologists in Specialist Palliative Care
Christine Kalus
Authors (max 6, presenting author included): Kalus Christine
Clinical Psychology in the UK is a profession that has developed over the past 40 years, and is
Phone currently a 3 year training, culminating the qualification of Doctor of Clinical Psychology.
Placements cover domains such as adult mental health; children and families; physical health
settings; people with learning difficulties. The core curriculum within the profession is predicated
on ensuring that on qualification practitioners are able to work autonomously within the health
Mobile phone and social care system.
Clinical Psychologists are trained to be competent as Cognitive Behavioural Therapists (CBT) which
is the therapy of choice for many mental and physical health settings because of the relatively
strong evidence base. They are also exposed to other therapeutic modalities, including
Please underline the most Psychodynamic, Psychoanalytic, Phenomenological/Existential, Systemic, Acceptance and
appropriate category for your Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness. Training gives practitioners the ability to develop
abstract formulations and, where appropriate, interventions based on the needs of the individual or family
in need of help.
• Pain and other symptoms With regard to palliative care, in 2004 the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)
produced a document on Supportive and Specialist Palliative Care in which it recommended that
• Palliative care for cancer patients all generalist and specialist palliative care services should have access to psychological
practitioners able to provide Levels 3 and 4 assessments and interventions to people in receipt of
• Palliative care for non cancer
specialist palliative care, and into bereavement if appropriate. Levels 3 and 4 are high level
patients interventions which requires practitioners to be trained in psychological therapies, giving them the
• Paediatric palliative care ability to work with patients and families who have complex mental and physical health needs.
• Palliative care for the elderly Despite this encouragement to develop psychological services, there has been limited investment
in clinical psychology services within specialist palliative care throughout the UK, and currently the
• The actors of palliative care
number of practitioners is around 50.
• Latest on drugs Alongside this lack of service development, there is a concomitant lack of clarity about the “right”
therapeutic model to use within specialist palliative care. There is also a lack of clarity within the
• Pain
evidence base as to what is the most “effective” therapy to use, and the high attrition of subjects
within the speciality means that research, which give practitioners confidence in their approach,
• Illness and suffering through
is difficult to conduct. The most commonly used models are: Psychodynamic; CBT and Systemic.
media Practitioners will also use integrated approaches, which clinical psychologists are well placed to do.
Palliative care brings its own challenges, and facing dying, death and bereavement on a daily
• Marginalisation and social stigma
basis and if we are to avoid burnout and high levels of attrition within the speciality, professionals
at the end of life and volunteers alike need to learn how to care for themselves, and develop as reflective and
• Palliative care advocacy projects reflexive practitioners. This is something that clinical psychologists are particularly able to help
facilitate, and work well within teams offering training, supervision, support and consultancy for
• Prognosis and diagnosis individuals and teams.
communication in In order to think about how clinical psychologists can develop and enhance the skills that they
different cultures need to achieve the above, the workshop will address the following issues:
Core curricula necessary to socialise and train trainee clinical psychologists into specialist palliative
• Communication between doctor- care; post qualification needs; communication skills; the ability to develop, undertake and
patient and patient- evaluate research into appropriate clinical assessments and interventions with patients and
equipe families.

• Religions and cultures versus
suffering, death and
• Public institution in the world:
palliative care policies
and law
• Palliative care: from villages to metropolies

• Space, light and gardens for the terminally ill patient
• End-of-life ethics
• Complementary therapies Session: Workshop on core curricula
• Education, training and research
• Fund-raising and no-profit Chair of the session: Junger Saskia
• Bereavement support
• Volunteering in palliative care
• Rehabilitation in palliative care
• Core curricula