Outlook Patient Information

Who are we and how can we help?

We are a friendly service offering highly specialist psychological support to adults with appearance concerns relating to an unusual, changed or visible difference in appearance. This includes concerns that may be a result of:

  • Congenital conditions, for example birthmarks, hemangioma, hemifacial microsomia. 
  • Health conditions, for example dermatological, musculoskeletal or neurological conditions, including facial palsy.
  • Trauma after illness or accidents that have resulted in changes to someone’s appearance, for example scars, burns or stroke. 
  • Treatment, for example plastic or maxillofacial surgery, prosthetics, or stoma.

“These sessions weren’t just about emotional help but practical help and advice, which helped me enormously.”

“Having someone understand why I have the problems I do and who could see where I am coming from was so helpful.”

We provide psychological support for appearance-related concerns including:

  • Adjusting to a visible difference or changed appearance following illness, injury, or chronic/congenital condition. 
  • Support with decision-making and/or preparing for surgery, or other medical treatments.
  • Anxiety regarding treatment e.g. pre-surgical, having an anesthetic, or procedural anxiety.
  • Managing psychological trauma following an accident, injury, surgery, or other treatments.
  • Coming to terms with a diagnosis and/or coping with treatment.
  • Adjusting to loss and grief e.g. a change in your body.
  • Coping with emotional issues around your appearance e.g. anxiety, worries, feeling low.
  • Building confidence or self-esteem, e.g. returning to work, family, and social situations.
  • Difficulties in dealing with other people’s reactions.
  • Help getting back to previous activities or adjusting to new ones e.g. going home after being in hospital, getting back to work/study.
  • Signposting to other services that may be more appropriate for co-existing difficulties.

What happens when you get referred?

We only accept referrals from a healthcare professional (e.g. GP or hospital team). When you are referred to the service, we will send you a letter asking you to confirm that you would like to be seen. We will then put you on our waiting list and will contact you as soon as we can offer you an appointment. It is completely up to you whether you choose to come and see us.

“The sessions were flexible and adapted to my changing needs. We focussed on practical changes which I could implement in my day-to-day life”

“The sessions feel informal and the pace of it is within your control”

“The session gave me the tools to help myself to realise. ‘I can do this, nothing bad will happen if I try’”

What can you expect at your first appointment?

Before your initial appointment, you will be sent some questionnaires to complete online. This is to help us understand how things are for you now, and how they change during the course of any support we may provide.

If you feel unable to complete the questionnaires, or require any reasonable adjustments, please let us know by getting in touch. We can arrange to meet with you prior to your initial appointment to discuss any concerns and support you to complete them.

At the initial appointment, you will meet a member of the Clinical Psychology Team. We are experienced in helping people to feel more able and confident to cope with the emotional impact of health issues and appearance-related concerns.

During the first session, you will have the opportunity to explore your concerns. We will also explain in more detail how we might be able to support you with these. At the end of the first session, the psychologist will discuss a plan of care, which may include further sessions with Outlook or signposting to other services.

If you would like anyone to join your sessions, such as a family member or friend, you are welcome to invite them as long as they are over 16. Sometimes, we will ask your permission if another colleague can join the session. It is fine to say no.

“It has been great to feel like there is finally someone to listen and understand what I am going through. I was able to talk openly in a comfortable surrounding environment without judgement. Thank you so much - the sessions made a huge impact on life!”

“I felt relaxed enough to open up and say how I was really feeling, which meant the right help and advice was given.”

What will the sessions involve?

As well as having a safe and supportive space to discuss your difficulties, we will often explore:

  • Ways to handle difficult thoughts, feelings, or sensation (e.g. fatigue) so they have less impact on you.
  • Clarifying what matters to you (your personal values) and what change or progress might look like.
  • Work with you to facilitate change, enabling you to move towards your goals.

We may also agree on some activities for you to do between sessions. Learning new skills takes time and practice but these activities will help you to get the most from your sessions.

“The support has given me the confidence to have my photo taken, ask for something in a shop, go out for a meal…all baby steps to begin with but which have helped me put my life back together.”

“During the sessions we have been working on noticing, reflecting and having a more positive outlook. I feel through discussion this has really helped and having the week in between appointments to input ideas very useful.”

How many appointments will you have?

We usually provide short-term, focused psychological support. We will work with you to decide what goals you want to achieve. This will help us decide together if we are the right service to support you and if so, how many sessions would be useful. Follow-ups are usually 50 minutes long.

We are not able to offer long-term, regular sessions in this service.

However, if that seems a useful or appropriate option for you, we can try to help you find other services that offer longer-term counselling.

“It was great to feel more able to help myself…this meant that my progress has continued even once I’d stopped the sessions.”

What happens to the information we discuss?

We take confidentiality seriously. Most of what we talk about with you will remain private. However, it can be helpful for us to share important information with staff closely involved in your care, e.g. in summary letters after the first and last appointments. 

If there is anything you don’t want shared, please discuss this with the psychologist. However, if we are very concerned there is a risk of harm to you or others we may need to pass this information to relevant services, such as your GP. We keep a brief record of our session together in the medical notes and fuller notes are kept securely within the psychology team. If you have any particular concerns about confidentiality, please let us know.

Where are we based?

We run clinics in Gate 24, the Brunel Building, at Southmead Hospital, Bristol. On arrival, there is a main reception desk where you can find a map of the building, as well as staff and volunteers that can assist you to find your appointment venue. 

If you would prefer, we are able to offer appointments over video call. We can discuss this with you when arranging your initial appointment. 

If you want to give us feedback

We really value feedback from all clients who access the service and we will ask people at the end of their time with us to complete an anonymous feedback form. You can also provide direct feedback by writing to us or contacting the Advice and Complaints Team on 0117 414 4569.

“The sessions were flexible and adapted to my changing needs. We focused on practical changes which I could implement in my day to day life.”

“I appreciated the opportunity to talk things through and giving me hope.”

“I have achieved things I never thought I would manage again.”

“This experience has been hugely influential in my recovery and sense of wellbeing. My own journey is far from complete but I am so much better than I was.”

“Thanks to my sessions I now feel much more at ease with my feature, I don’t care what other people think of it!!”

© North Bristol NHS Trust.  This edition published May 2024. Review due May  2027. NBT003402.

Outlook Patient Information

Contact Outlook

The admin office is staffed Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm. You are welcome to leave a phone/email message outside these times and one of the team will get back to you. 

Outlook & Clinical Health Psychology
Office 3, Gate 38, Level 3
Brunel building
Southmead Hospital
Southmead Road
BS10 5NB


0117 414 4888