Psychologist - Allied Health


The Psychologist's role in working with an older adult receiving palliative care at the end of life is the assessment, management and support in equipping individuals to address their mortality and changes their diagnosis may mean for them.

Key Points

The Psychologist liaises within the interprofessional care team to promote best outcomes. Psychologists who work with older adults receiving palliative care at the end of life is led by the person’s symptoms and their sense of what is important to them to co-create realistic goals and expectations with the person in the face of impending death within the context of a therapeutic relationship.

A Psychologist would initially assess or screen a person for distress, inability to cope, or anxiety or depression using a tool like the SPICT or Cornell Scale for Depression. More information on assessment tools can be found at Assess Palliative Care Needs.

Further services a Psychologist might provide

  • Helping an individual understand the interrelationship between physical symptom distress and psychological distress
  • Listening and counselling and allows a person to talk about any fears, worries or conflicting emotions
  • Clarify misunderstandings or mis-expectations around an individual’s diagnosis and palliative care
  • Helping a person identify and talk about loss or grief and may provide bereavement care and support to family and carers
  • Helping a person with existential concerns such as the search for meaning in life, hope, sense of purpose, dignity, grief, and spirituality
  • Assisting a person and their family to communicate and to explore relationship or emotional issues
  • Helping to mobilise individual or family resources, to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Acknowledging strength and achievements in the life of the person
  • Introducing meditation or relaxation exercises to help ease physical and emotional pain
  • Contributing to the preparation of legacies and eulogies either with the person and/or the family.


  • Resources
  • For Families
  • Further Learning

Australian Psychological Society

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) is the member society for Psychologists working in Australia, and provides access to a number of resources and support through special interest groups.

The APS has been actively involved in ensuring that psychology has a voice in current debates around end-of-life issues and care. In 2008, the discussion paper on Psychological perspectives on euthanasia and the terminally ill was updated.

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association (APA) has developed a fact sheet Older Adults and Palliative and End-of-Life Care Factsheet (2019) (PDF, 153KB) that discusses psychological issues that can arise with life limiting illness, and suggestions for how carers and family can respond.

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association (APA) runs a workshop on Psychosocial Issues in Palliative and End-of-Life Care: Considerations for Psychologists.


Page updated 17 April 2023