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Urgent / Crisis Contacts

This web site and associated email and phone number are not montitored 24/7 and therefore should not be used for urgent/crisis contacts.

If you require urgent psychological assistance please contact your GP, Out-of-Hours GP, emergency department or lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

Keeping Safe During Suicidal Thinking

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

There are other solutions. When you feel suicidal, make a promise to yourself. Download, print and complete the document below.

Keeping Safe During Suicidal Thinking


Our Department of Psychological Therapies, along with the Physiotherapy Department and Coaching and Development Department, 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.

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 specialist therapy, group intervention or self-help.

All treatment offered is structured and goal orientated, usually lasting for 16 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 your therapist.


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

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Reactions (including PTSD)
  • Complex trauma
  • Complicated bereavement and loss issues
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Workplace Stress
  • Adjustment to retirement

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 2018, WHO 2013 & CREST 2003), our treatment approach is based on Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy including Trauma focused CBT and CPT. 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 Psychological Therapies Team is made up of Psychologists, Cognitive Behavioural Therapists, EMDR Practitioners and Consultants. Our therapists provide evidence-based treatment and are registered and accredited with appropriate professional bodies including HCPC, PSI, BPS, BACP, IACP, UKCP, BABCP and EMDRIA.


The following groups are eligible for our service:

  • Retired Police Officers (RUC GC/PSNI)
  • Relatives of Retired Police Officers (adults who have been impacted by their family members service)
  • Relatives of Deceased Officers (adults who have been impacted by their family members service)

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 initial 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. Treatment can be provided in person or remotely via a digitial platform or telephone. If treatment is not required, or appropriate, you will be offered advice and a referral to a more appropriate service for your needs.

To make an appointment contact Services Admin on 028 9042 7788 or

View PSYCHOLOGY articles and videos on the RESOURCES page

Listen to PSYCHOLOGY Audios on the AUDIO page

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.

What are Psychological Therapies?

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)
What will happen when I first attend?

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.

What happens next?

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.

What if I can’t think about problems?

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.

Who will know I am attending?

PRRT are committed to safeguarding and preserving the privacy of our service users and visitors.

PRRT adheres to the Ethical Framework on confidentiality outlined by relevant professional bodies including HCPC, BACP, IACP, BABCP, BPS, PSI, UKCP. This identifies the circumstances in which confidentiality will be broken and the legal obligations to report to other agencies. PRRT will share information with other healthcare providers such as Psychiatrists, Community Psychiatric Nurses and Community Addictions Team, if this is deemed necessary to provide the best standard of care and treatment.

Information will be given to you about Confidentiality and consent sought from you before you enter into treatment with our department.

When you consent to treatment and attend for assessment, we will write to your GP to let them know you are attending as they have primary responsibility for your care. We will inform them when you have finished treatment with our service.

If you have been referred by your employer, standard information provided to your employer will be on attendance. No further identifiable information will be shared unless consented to.

Will I see the same person each time?

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.

How do the appointments work?

In order to maximise the benefit of treatment and to keep waiting list time to a minimum it is very important that you attend all scheduled appointments.
You will be expected to attended sessions on a fortnightly basis or if appropriate weekly. In order to benefit from treatment you must be available to commit to a course of treatment with no prolonged absences. Necessary absences will be discussed and managed with your therapist.
Number of treatment sessions offered will be regularly reviewed.

Do other people feel this way?

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.

Can therapy really help?

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”

What is therapy? What does it involve?

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.

What do I need to bring to therapy?

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.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

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.

Do you only treat PTSD?

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.

What to do if you can’t attend an appointment?

Any two missed appointments (cancellations or failure to attend) may lead to discharge from treatment. Any appeals regarding this decision can be made to the Head of Department in writing or via your treating clinician.
I understand if I have to cancel my appointment I will contact PRRT on 02890427788 at my earliest opportunity, preferably more than 24 hours in advance in order for the appointment to be rescheduled. If I am unable to reschedule at that time I understand that I will be sent a cancellation letter. Failure to reschedule within 7 days of your cancellation will result in discharge.

I understand that if I fail to attend an appointment and do not contact PRRT I will receive a “Did not attend” letter requesting that I contact PRRT to arrange a new appointment. Failure to contact within 7 days from your DNA will result in discharge.

These measures are designed to ensure that you get the best out of your treatment at the Psychological Therapies Department.

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.

Anger Management

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.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

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.


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

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.
Relationship Problems

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

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/Social Phobia

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.

Keeping Safe During Suicidal Thinking

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

There are other solutions. When you feel suicidal, make a promise to yourself. Download, print and complete the document below.

Keeping Safe During Suicidal Thinking


Psychological Therapy Locations

The map below shows PRRT Psychological Therapy locations.