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Contact information

St-Elisabeth site - Uccle
02-614 20 00
St-Michel site - Etterbeek
02-614 30 00
Bella Vita Medical Center - Waterloo
02-614 42 00


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About psychology

The mind and body are closely connected. 
When the body suffers, so does the whole being, including one’s psyche. This is why it is important to have psychologists working in hospitals.

When a patient is hospitalised, a psychologist discusses the patient’s subjective experience with him/her, and displays neutrality and support as he/she listens to the patient. The support a psychologist can offer relates primarily to what the patient is experiencing, regardless of his/her objective medical situation. When the services of a psychologist are expected, or even requested, he/she co-develops with the patient a construct of the somatic suffering that the patient can then include in his/her life story. The psychologist becomes the catalyst of this construct (Gori, Del Volgo, 1991).

If necessary, or if the patient so wishes, the psychologist is also available to provide support to the patient’s relatives.

There is another aspect of the psychologist’s work that is not so well known: this is the work conducted within healthcare teams. The psychologist lends support to the team and helps its members consider subjective dimensions of the patient’s health. Healthcare teams are often torn by requirements of objectivity and rationality on the one hand, and by what the patients says and how he/she uniquely experiences events on the other hand. The overriding purpose is to provide adapted healthcare that takes into account the uniqueness of the patient. This work stems from a close collaboration with doctors and healthcare teams, and from the observations and interactions the psychologist entertains with the patient, the latter serving to better understand the person in question. The healthcare provided is therefore as broad as possible. Obviously, the utmost professional secrecy surrounds the healthcare thus provided.

The intervention modalities of the psychologists can vary: they can intervene at the request of the patient or at the request of the healthcare team, but in every case the patient’s agreement is required. In some units, the psychologist can offer his/her services spontaneously to a patient, which the patient is free to accept or decline.

Following a hospitalisation, the patient might be required to come back as a day-patient (rehabilitation, dialysis...). The patient can then ask to see the psychologist for a consultation. 
The framework is therefore similar to that of a conventional consultation, where the patient comes with a specific request or is referred to the psychologist by a doctor. Relatives can also be seen if the patient so wishes.
The role of the psychologist is to listen and to accept the request of the patient along with his/her mental suffering. The entanglement of somatic and mental suffering provides a different view of the situation, which can be used to help the patient feel better and find the resources to accept his/her illness; the patient is then able to better adapt to his/her condition or to painful personal situations. If necessary, efforts are implemented to combine the psychologist’s work with that of the healthcare team, subject to the patient’s approval.

When the patient is hospitalised in the psychiatric ward, he/she consults with a psychologist, whose work is to listen, support and provide help in terms of creating a mental construct relating to the patient’s issues. Depending on the pathology or the issue, some techniques can also be implemented, such as cognitive restructuring, progressive desensitisation, systemic therapy (in some cases, couple therapy and/or therapy for the patient’s relatives)... The patient is also offered adapted group therapy with techniques such as mindfulness, self-confidence building, sophrology... At the end of the hospitalisation, the patient can come back for day-patient consultations.

In some cases, the psychological work can be implemented within support groups for patients who share the same type of issues.