Jargon buster

A guide to some of the terms used within the NHS

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

A service at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust which can give telephone help, advice and information about the services we provide.

Patient and Public Involvement (PPI)

A term used to describe a way of involving people who use services, and the wider public, in how NHS services are planned and provided.

Patient Journey System (PJS)

The electronic patient records system developed at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. It holds information about people who use our services and the care and treatment that they receive from the Trust.

Personality disorder

Personality disorders are a range of conditions that affect a person's thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Most people with personality disorders find it difficult to deal with other people.


Someone who has expert knowledge of the use of medicines. They work closely with doctors and nurses and advise them on the safe and effective use of drugs.  They are responsible for supplying medication and making sure it is available in the right form.


The study of drugs and their uses and effects.


A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear, for example a fear of heights or animals. Phobias are estimated to affect 1 in 40 adults a year.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

If you have experienced a traumatic event, you may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the days, weeks or months after the incident. Although such events can be very difficult to come to terms with, confronting your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD.

Postnatal depression

The birth of a baby is an emotional experience and, for many new mothers, feeling tearful and depressed is also common. However, sometimes longer periods of depression, known as postnatal depression (PND), can occur during the first few weeks and months of the baby's life. PND can have a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, but it can be treated.

Primary Care Trust (PCT)

An organisation which plans the way health services our provided for the local population. PCTs commission and fund organisations like SLaM to provide NHS services to patients. These groups will cease to exist as of 1 April 2013.


Proteomics is the large-scale study of proteins, particularly their structures and functions.


An organisation which provides health and/or social care services to local people.


A medical doctor with specialist experience and qualifications in mental illness and emotional disorders. He or she has overall responsibility for your care.  This includes any medication you may take, and any activities you may be involved in whilst in hospital, or in the community.

Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic Therapy

A 'talking treatment' which looks at how your past relationships might be affecting how you currently feel, think and behave. It can be done individually or in a group.

Psychological therapies

Psychological therapies are also known as 'talking therapies' or 'talking treatments'. They are ways of helping people through talking. They give you the chance to talk about, explore and deal with problems, with a trained psychological therapist.


Someone who has done a psychology degree, then further training in helping people with emotional or psychological problems.  Psychologists can offer you therapy which involves talking about your difficulties and working together to overcome them. They are different from psychiatrists in that they are not medically trained and do not prescribe medication.


Disorders involving distorted perceptions of reality - thinking, feeling, hearing and seeing - often with symptoms of hallucinations and delusions.


Someone who has trained to carry out one or more of the psychotherapies. They can be from any professional background - or none. They should be registered with a professional psychotherapy organisation in the UK.


A 'talking treatment' which aims to help people to understand their mental or emotional problems, change behaviour and thoughts or emotions to improve their well-being. This can refer to any form of psychological therapy but is often specifically applied to psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

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