How do I get advice or treatment at Headspace Dorset?


Most people are referred by their GP. A GP referral is necessary if you want to use your health insurance (and consistent  with General Medical Council Good Practise Guidelines). Even if you prefer to fund your treatment yourself, a GP is still preferable to share health and medication which it may be important in yoru case. 


Some people prefer not to involve their GP for various reasons and we will respect your choice. We would be happy to hear from patients directly for a FREE DISCUSSION of your circumstances and how best to get help and treatment.


If you’re not sure how to go about getting referred or unsure about your funding options, simply contact us and we will help work out the best way for you to get the right help and advice.  


What are your consultation fees?


Psychiatrist fees are £250  for an initial assessment (about 1 hour) and £150 for follow-up (about half an hour). Not everybody needs to see a psychiatrist but that depends on the nature of your condition and whether you've been prescribed medication.


Psychology fees are £150 for a initial assessment (about 1 hour) and £100 for follow-up consulations (lasting about an hour each).


If your circumstances are complex you will meet both a Psychiatrist and Psychologist for the initial consultation. The fee for a joint consultation is £300 (and the appointment is likely to take up to 2 hours but with a break if you need one).


What happens once you get my referral?



Once we receive your referral we will contact you by phone within 24 hours to offer an appointment at a time that suits you. Let us know if you prefer not to be contacted by phone (and which alternative you might prefer e.g. text, e-mail or letter)


We try to see all new referrals within a week (or within a few days if it’s important). We usually see patients at 77 Penn Hill Avenue, Lower Parkstone, Poole (above Penn Hill Dental Surgery with plenty of on and off-street parking). We can offer evening and weekend appointments.



Is there anything I should do to prepare for my consultation?


You are welcome to bring a friend or relative with you for some or all your consultation if it would help, though spending at least part of the appointment alone is often helpful. It may be useful to write down notes about your goals, questions, or any other detail ahead of your appointment to make sure they are all covered on the day. You are welcome to take notes during our appointment as well.



Many people have health insurance policies that will cover appointment fees (provided you’ve been referred by a GP), but you will need to check with them in advance that you are covered. If you get a preauthorisation number from your insurer before coming for your first appointment then we can charge your insurance company directly. It can be difficult to claim fees back from your insurer if you have not let them know about it in advance. If you require a claim form completing, please bring it with you to the appointment with you.



Many people find the prospect of seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist daunting. People often feel embarrassed or weak for asking for help. Usually this is more a result of the negative styles of thinking that arise when people start feeling more depressed or anxious. You might feel scared of being stigmatised by other’s poor understanding of mental health difficulties. These feeling often reduce once you realise many other people have the same difficulties and that help is available from people you can trust and won’t judge you.



What happens at the initial consultation? 


Depending on your circumstances, the initial consultation with a psychiatrist or a psychologist (or sometimes both). A psychiatrist differs from a psychologist in being medically qualified and so able to investigate any physical causes which may have an impact on mental health, and also the ability to prescribe medication if needed.



The initial consultation usually takes about an hour, during which you describe the problems and any factors that may be contributing to the situation. We will need to ask you about your relationships, background, substance use and other physical matters, some of which may have a bearing on your current circumstances. It is also useful to have a list of current and previous medication, including names and doses. Its often easier to just bring the medication packages with you.



At the end of your initial consultation we will explain our clinical opinion and treatment recommendations. In complex circumstances we may have to meet for another sessions and/or gather more information (e.g. from you GP or previous therapists, with your permission off course) before we can decide how best to help you. 



We will discuss the various treatment options with you and to look at the “pros and cons” of each, so that your views are fully taken into account in your treatment. You will be given time to think about our recommendations and we will follow-up with a written report in the post soon after your appointment.



What kind of treatment will I be offered?


Depending on your circumstances you will be offered psychological treatment (i.e. “talking” therapy), prescribed psychiatric medication, or both. Your preferences will be taken into account and you’ll be given all the right information to make the best choice for you in your own circumstances. 


We will explain which treatments we can provide at Headspace, and be clear on the treatments we can’t. We can’t, for example, provide an out-of-hours emergency help-line service, and we cannot (at the moment) offer admission to hospital for people who need more intensive care than we can offer (e.g. people who are feeling suicidal). We will signpost you to emergency, crisis or hospital care if needed. 


If you agree, we will write to your GP after our initial appointment so they are aware of the treatment plan. We routinely send a copy of this letter to you. If you do not wish your treatment with us to be communicated to the NHS or your GP,  then let us know. 



What if prescribed medication is part of my treatment? 


If you decide on having treatment with medication you will need to see a psychiatrist occasionally to monitor your progress. Any potential side-effects will be explained to you and you'll be offered written information on your treatment.


If your treatment includes medication it is important for your GP know in case it interacts with any other medication you may take. For some people it is more convenient or affordable to ask their NHS GPs to write prescriptions for them. If you prefer not to involve your GP we can provide a prescriptions directly, but private scripts may cost more to dispense (but also possibly, less) than NHS prescriptions.  



How will it work if I need psychological therapy?



Everybody’s different, but a typical course of psychological therapy is between 10 and 20 one hour sessions every week or two (so, spread over several months). As part of therapy you will need to do some home work in your own time. Effective psychotherapy takes time and commitment, but it is likely to have more enduring benefits to psychological problems that medication alone.


Some insurers limit the number of psychological sessions they will fund, so the funding for a course of therapy might sometimes fall short. You might have to fund a number of sessions another way, but if this happens we will  work flexibly with you to make use of phone and consultations to preserve your insurance funding for longer. Skype and telephone consultations are not funded by most insurers but they do present a feasible and easier option to access therapy for many of our patients.



If your insurer will not fund therapy and no other funding is available, we will, with your agreement, help your GP to make a referral to your local NHS psychological service. 



Will you discuss my treatment and progress with anyone else?


If you want us to discuss your condition with either your family or anyone else then we will need your written permission to do so. In general, no information about you is disclosed or discussed with anyone other than you without your written permission. That includes family members or parents if you are over 18 years old.



We usually update your GP in writing on your treatment and progress, and any medication you may be prescribed. If you don’t want us to share information with your GP (or share only limited information) please let us know. 



The general rule is that we will keep your information absolutely confidential unless we have your permission to talk or write to anyone else about you. There are a few exceptions to this which are detailed in our Confidentiality Agreement which we will ask you to sign when we first meet.



If you're less than entirely happy with any aspects of your care let us know immedicately so we will resolve it.


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