Our service

Our Department of Psychological Therapies, along with the Physiotherapy and Personal Development and Training Services, aims to provide a holistic service to improve our clients’ quality of life and wellbeing.

Our Department is a highly specialist clinical service which aims to address and treat people’s psychological needs which have arisen in the face of adversity and conflict. In addition to our adult service, we also provide a Children and Young People’s Service to children of retired police officers.

When we meet people to assess their problems and areas of difficulty, we agree in partnership on a programme of treatment that is appropriate to meet their needs. This may be one to one therapy, group intervention or self-help.

All treatment offered is short-term, usually lasting for 12 sessions. If more or less is required, this can be negotiated. It will focus on how your life is currently affected by any problems you have, and use tried and tested techniques to help you overcome them. You will play an active part in your treatment, working in partnership with the therapist.

Each of our therapists is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) qualified, and are registered and accredited with appropriate professional bodies. Our practice complies with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) Code of Ethics.

Psychological Therapies

Conditions we treat

All of our clinicians have extensive experience in treating psychological problems such as:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Reactions (including PTSD)
  • Complicated bereavement and loss issues
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Symptoms associated with some of these problems include:

  • irritability, poor concentration, low mood
  • intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares
  • sleep problems
  • feelings of guilt, shame, low self esteem
  • behavioural avoidances, irrational fear
  • inability to make decisions or problem solve
  • repetitive or compulsive behaviours
  • suicidal thinking, self-harm
  • relationship problems
  • anger problems
  • addictions

Our practice

In accordance with Best Practice Guidelines (Nice 2005, CREST 2003), our treatment approach is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It comprises a range of therapeutic models aimed at changing problem behaviours and faulty thinking patterns. It aims to improve quality of life by altering thoughts and behaviours which restrict people’s lifestyles. Other therapeutic approaches such as Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) may also be used within the CBT model, as appropriate.


The following groups are eligible for our service:

  • Retired or retiring police officers
  • Relatives of retiring police officers
  • Relatives of a deceased officer, including RUC GC / PSNI widows, RUC GC / PSNI parents
  • Serving officers and police support staff referred through PSNI’s Occupational Health and Welfare Psychological Service
  • Children of retired officers.

The following groups may use the service on a self-funding basis:

  • Immediate family members of serving officers

How to access help

We accept self-referrals as well as referrals from the Health Service, voluntary sector agencies and other police organisations, such as the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers’ Association.

When you call to make an appointment, an assessment will be arranged within two weeks to discuss your individual difficulties. If our services are appropriate to support your needs, specific treatment models will be discussed, and treatment goals mutually agreed with you. Treatment may be provided at Maryfield, Holywood or closer to your home if this is available, and more convenient. If treatment is not required, or appropriate, you will be offered advice and a referral to a more appropriate service for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Clients are often anxious about attending therapy and are sometimes fearful of what therapy may entail

The Therapists at PRRT are often faced with some common frequently asked questions when clients first attend for therapy. We thought it would be useful to take the time to answer some in advance. Maybe this will help address any concerns you may have.

Frequently asked questions about attending for Therapy.

The Psychological Therapies Department is a specialist clinical service. Our team of Senior experienced Psychologists and Psychotherapists use a range of therapeutic strategies and interventions aimed at changing problem behaviours and unhelpful thinking styles that are impacting on a client’s emotional and functional wellbeing.

Examples include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Prior to entering treatment clients attend for an initial assessment. This is a bit like an informal chat, an opportunity for both parties to find out about each other. In this session there is no need to explore your story or if relevant your trauma history in detail. You will have the chance to ask questions about PRRT and the help available.

Your therapist will want to know a bit about your problems and how this is currently affecting you. The therapist will want an overview and will not be going into too much detail at this stage.

Once you have been accepted for therapy you will be allocated to a therapist.  You will be invited to attend for a full assessment.  In this session the therapist will explore your problems and your history further.  This helps to start the process where specific problems and goals are identified.

Don’t worry your therapist will assist you.  Often this takes a number of weeks to do. We believe this is an important part of therapy as it helps us identify what we want to change.

We provide a confidential service and so will not share any details of your attendance with other people.

PRRT Clinicians adhere to the HCPC, BACP, IACP, BABCP, BPS, IPS Ethical Framework on confidentiality which may be broken only if you are considered to be a danger to yourself or others or if child protection issues are evident

As a matter of courtesy we will write to your GP to let them know you are attending as they have primary responsibility for your care and we will write again when you are discharged.

In some cases it is often useful to communicate with other professionals including, Psychiatrists, Community Psychiatric Nurses and Community Addiction Teams.  If we feel such communication would be beneficial we will make every effort to seek your consent and advise you of this.

If your therapy is being paid for by a specific organization we will let them know the slot has been allocated and that you (the client) have attended/not attended.  No further identifiable information will be shared.

Following initial assessment clients are allocated to a specific therapist and will continue to see that therapist until treatment ends. If there are unpredictable circumstances like long term illness you may be allocated another therapist.  This would be discussed and agreed with you.

No costs are involved.  Treatment is free to retired officers and their families.  Others who attend our service have their sessions paid for by their employer.

Most sessions last around 60 mins.  If your therapist has planned a specific piece of work they may plan a longer session of 90 mins.

If your Doctor or Psychiatrist has prescribed medication it is important you continue to take it.  Any changes should only occur after consultation with them.

Many clients ask this question because they are anxious, confused or worried about how they feel.  Often they believe they are alone in feeling this way. It is not uncommon for clients to relate how they thought there was something seriously wrong with them or even thinking they were going mad. It is our experience that how you are feeling is quite normal in the circumstances.  Your therapist will help you to understand your problem and identify ways in which you can improve how you feel.

If your Doctor or Psychiatrist has prescribed medication it is important you continue to take it.  Any changes should only occur after consultation with them.

See common problems/symptoms section at the end of this article.

Yes, the more clients we see the more common presentations we are aware of.  It is often because we are frightened or anxious about what others will think that we don’t talk about our concerns.  If we did we would learn how common our problems are.

The very fact that you are reading this indicates that you are interested in learning more.  There may be something happening in your life or someone else’s that you would like to change.  Maybe you are experiencing fluctuations in your mood or difficulty tolerating things you previously enjoyed. Maybe you have difficulties in social situations or your problems are impacting on your relationships.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Extensive research has highlighted the benefits of therapy. The government has pledged to improve access to psychological therapies for all.  Even if it has been like this for years. Things can change.  You have nothing to lose.

It is our experience that most people who engage in therapy will notice changes in the quality of their lives.

Client comments

“Things have improved so much, thank you I couldn’t have done it alone”

“It’s like a whole new world”

“Thank you for giving my husband back to me”

“Now I see people who remind me of myself in the past…….  I want to tell them to get help”

The key elements of therapy include;

  • Partnership working – Working together with your therapist you will identify your specific problems. A treatment plan will be devised to help address current problems and assist you to work towards your identified goals.
  • Specifying Problems – helps us to focus on how your problem affects you, maybe it stops you doing certain things.  By specifying problems the therapy sessions can focus on what is important to you.
  • Goal setting – when you have specified your problem, you can start to consider how you would prefer things to be.  By setting goals your therapist can identify specific treatments that will help you.  This will also help us to monitor your progress and identify when therapy has been completed.
  • Homework – as part of your treatment your therapist is likely to give you work to do at home. This is often the most important part of therapy.  Homework may include reading about others with similar problems, monitoring your thoughts and feeling in specific situations, conducting experiments by trying new behaviours or engaging in exercise.

Sometimes therapy can be anxiety provoking to start.  Clients often tell us how anxious they feel attending but they also tell us how they settle after a few weeks.  However it is important to note that when we are challenging problems that have been around for a while you may experience an increase in symptoms as you process your difficulties.

Remember your therapist is there to help you and will work with you at a pace that is comfortable for you.

The most important thing you can bring to therapy is motivation and an open mind.  Motivation to change will help you to identify goals and improve your current situation.

Persistent rearranging of appointments, non-attendance or lateness may suggest you struggling with motivation and are not ready to engage in treatment, and could lead to your case being discharged. Poor attendance or difficulty completing homework may be a sign that this is not the right time for you to engage.

Often it is because of a lack of motivation that people attend for therapy and this may be need to be the first issue addressed.

An open mind will mean you are open to learning and trying new things. Often therapy involves experimentation and trying things in a different way.  This allows for new experiences.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the term used to describe a collection of symptoms some people experience after a traumatic event as the brain struggles to make sense of what happened.

Symptoms may include nightmares and intrusive recollections of the event.  Sometimes we avoid locations or people that remind us of the events. These symptoms are a normal reaction to an abnormal or unusual event.

No we treat a range of difficulties including problems with sleep, anger, panic, depression, social anxiety, stress and OCD

See common problems/symptoms section at the end of this article.

There is no contribution for eligible clients.  Please check under Eligibility (earlier on this page) for eligibility.

Sometimes these questions are accompanied by thoughts about other people’s reactions if they learn about a person’s difficulties.  Or thoughts that the problem has been around so long things can never change.

People will think negatively towards me if they find out I have a problem”

 “I have been this way for so long nothing will change”

It’s important to discuss your concerns and address any barriers to attending for therapy.  Remember therapy is about improving the quality of your life and your level of functioning.  So talk it over with those around you or give us a call.

Common Problems

At PRRT we see a range of presentations.

Drinking too much – or even drinking a little at the wrong time can cause problems.  If your drinking is affecting your health, social life, marriage, finances or work, you should be doing something about it.

Everyone feels anger at some times. Anger may occur as a result of life stresses such as work or financial problems.  Anger becomes a problem when the emotion is difficult to regulate and starts to impact on our daily living. Clients often describe the “red mist” coming down.  Anger may impact on your relationships, your ability to do everyday things, and even your work. Anger becomes a problem when the emotion is too strong or occurs too often.  Often people notice themselves becoming angry at the slightest thing or trying to find something to focus their anger on.  In extreme cases anger can result in individuals saying hurtful things or becoming aggressive or violent.

Most of us worry about things that might happen and experience anxiety at times. Those who have Generalised Anxiety Disorder seem to worry that bad things are going to happen all the time and anticipate the worst outcomes.  They worry about their family, their health, their finances and their job.  Worry appears to be out of their control and they are unable to stop worrying.  As a result they may experience problems with concentration, restlessness, irritability and sleep problems.

Mood fluctuations are normal and often guide us to address problems in our lives. Clinical Depression is more pronounced than mood fluctuations and has a variety of symptoms. These include decreased energy, irregular sleep, changes in mood, restlessness, feelings of worthlessness, withdrawal from other people and suicidal thinking.  Depression can vary from mild to severe and is very common, with 25% of women and 12% of men suffering a major depressive episode during their lifetime.

Most people will know what anxiety is.  It’s a common reaction to events such as exams or a driving test, or unexpected situations such as someone running out in front of your car. Panic attacks involve such a high level of anxiety and physical symptoms it can feel as if you are having a heart attack or losing control.  Physical symptoms may include shortness of breath, tingling sensations, sense of impending doom, a feeling of choking, chest pain, sweating and heart pounding.  Panic attacks are unexpected and the symptoms can be very strong.  Often the fear of a panic attack results in the individual changing their lifestyle in order to avoid an attack.

Agoraphobia is the fear of situations or places that may trigger a panic attack.  People with agoraphobia often avoid going out alone, to supermarkets, or travelling in planes and trains.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a common reaction to traumatic events.  These may include road traffic accidents, being the victim of crime, living through or witnessing a disaster or seeing someone die.  When we experience such an event it is common to try to make sense of it by thinking about it a lot.   Thinking about it can be distressing so we try not to think about it. The experience will include what they saw, heard, smelt and felt.  Later similar sights, sounds and smells may trigger memories and emotions connected to the incident.

People with PTSD may have problems:

  • Reliving the trauma via nightmares or flashbacks.
  • Avoiding people or locations associated with the incident.
  • Physical symptoms such as sleep disruption, feeling angry or irritable,   difficulties with concentration and Hypervigilance.

Many of the other problems listed can also impact on our relationships. Relationship problems can also occur in isolation and can often be understood in terms of communication difficulties.  Clients are often aware of the problem but are unsure how to address it.  They may have noticed they are not spending as much time together as they did in the past.  They no longer share common pastimes, and don’t talk about future plans. They may also be aware of frequent disagreements or arguments. Sometimes they avoid each other to prevent arguments or further problems and this results in additional difficulties.

Sleep problems are very common as many as 30% of the population is affected by sleep problems.  Studies have shown that people range between needing 4 to10 hours sleep per night. There is no right amount as it varies across people, lifestyles and life span.  As we get older and are less active we often need less sleep.

Sleep problems can be caused by:

  • Normal effects of aging
    • Medical reasons
  • Needing to go to the toilet
  • Pain
  • Loss or bereavement
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Being too hot or too cold.
  • Disrupted sleep routine i.e. shift work

Good sleep habits can help address many common problems.

Social anxiety and shyness is a common problem that affects both men and women.  Most of us will feel anxious in social situations at some time in our lives. But for some people it can make their lives very difficult.  They may avoid certain one or more social situations.  Difficulties include Public Speaking, meeting new people, or talking to people in authority.  People with social phobia often fear they will do or say something foolish, they will blush, sweat or tremble and people will think badly of them.  As a result they avoid the situations as far as possible.  The impact of this may mean they have limited social contact and a reduced number of friends.

Stress is often used to describe how we feel when the demands of life out way the resources we have to deal with them.  People refer to being “under stress”.  Stress can be triggered by life events such as death of a relative, divorce, planning a big event such as a wedding or difficulties in a range of areas for example work, relationships, health or financial problems.

Psychological Therapy Locations

Psychological Therapy Locations

The image above shows a map of Northern Ireland with PRRT Psychological Therapy locations marked.

For more information or to make a referral please contact the Clinical Administration on 028 9042 7788, or email servicesadmin@prrt.org  or Text relay number – 18001 028 9042 7788