We are a service offering specialist psychological support to people with a different, unusual or changed appearance.
We accept referrals from healthcare professionals from a primary care, hospital and specialist care services. We work with individuals whose physical condition, illness or treatment has resulted in a different, unusual, or altered appearance.
Our appearance can be affected by a range of congenital or acquired conditions, and although the majority of individuals will adjust well to their different or altered appearance, for some it can be more challenging. A change in appearance following trauma, illness and/or treatment, for example burn injuries or scars as the result of an accident or surgical procedure, are common referrals to Outlook.
However, many physical conditions may lead to a different, unusual, or altered appearance and the information below might help determine whether a referral to Outlook is appropriate.
Dermatological conditions can sometimes result in noticeable differences to the skin’s appearance, texture, colour, and health. These conditions can be uncomfortable and frustrating and can result in individuals wanting to hide their skin in fear of being judged.
Endocrinological conditions can sometimes result in differences to our growth and development. For example, areas of the body may develop more rapidly or more slowly compared to other people meaning that they might be more visibly distinguishable from their peers or broader group.
Whilst gastrointestinal and/or urological conditions themselves may not be visible, treatment or management can often involve an altered appearance. For example, where surgery is advocated for diverticulitis, a colostomy might result in a temporary stoma. However, where it is permanent some individuals may experience appearance-related concerns around management for the condition.
Maxillofacial conditions and injury can often result in differences to the way our mouth, jaw, face or neck look. The face is central to communication, whether verbal and non-verbal, and a visible difference in this area can affect the way in which we are understood, how others interact with us and we interact socially or professionally.
Musculoskeletal, orthopaedic and/or rheumatological conditions affect the bones, joint, muscles, ligaments, and tendons and can therefore cause differences in the way the body looks and moves.
Neurological conditions affect the nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and can sometimes result in paralysis or mobility difficulties, for example facial palsy or hemiplegia. Our or others perception of this difference may impact our confidence and emotional wellbeing, particularly it impacts on how people interact with us or treat us differently than that which is appropriate.
Evidence suggests that “beauty means good” is a universal belief, irrespective of cultural heritage. However, diverse cultures might define ‘beauty’ differently and, therefore, will vary considerably in practice. Having a different, unusual, or altered appearance from ethnical or cultural expectations can lead to individuals experiencing challenges unrelated to the effect of the condition, illness or injury but might require additional support to address challenges to achieving their full potential.
As appearance has a cultural context, having a different, unusual, or changed appearance may lead individuals to experience a heightened sense of awareness and monitoring of their appearance as well as low confidence and mood. Some individuals may experience time when they are asked questions about their appearance and/or experience others responding negatively towards them (for example, others staring or pointing). This can be challenging and may lead to feelings of embarrassment and shame.
At Outlook we support individuals with a different, unusual, or changed appearance as a consequence of a congenital condition or acquired through illness, injury or treatment. We accept referrals for those struggling to adjust to their appearance, cope with emotional issues around their appearance, or find intimate relationships, family, social or working situations challenging. For more information, please visit our ‘How Outlook can Help’ page or changingfaces.org.uk.
If you are a previous client and 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.
The admin office is staffed Monday to Thursday 9am to 3pm. Outside of these times please leave a message or email us and we will get back to you.
Outlook & Clinical Health Psychology
Office 3, Gate 38, Level 3