CERN’s attentive ear: the first 18 months

In November 2010 the CERN Medical Service announced that it was opening a psychology service. So what's the verdict after 18 months? The statistics for the first year of operation illustrate a positive balance sheet.


The independent psychologist Sigrid Malandain is available for consultation by CERN personnel on professional and personal problems in complete confidence. The service is available to all CERN personnel - whether they be staff, users or apprentices - but so far the main clients have been staff members (51%) and users (28%). As Sigrid Malandain explains: “In total, around a hundred people consulted the Medical Service’s psychology service between 2010 and 2011 - a clear indication that people are well aware of its existence.”

During its first year of operation, the main reasons for consulting the service were professional issues (54%) or family problems (36%). “Given that the service has been set up in an occupational context, it is not surprising that work-related issues regularly come up,” says Sigrid Malandain. “The most frequently raised issues are conflicts between colleagues or with supervisors, difficulties associated with the renewal or non-renewal of contracts and excessive workloads.”

The goals of the psychology service are to inform, advise and orient people with difficulties to the appropriate professionals. To date, over half those consulting the service have been advised to consult experts outside CERN; some have been followed up within CERN through consultation while others have received the benefit of advice, diagnosis, recommendations and psycho-educational training.

The psychology service has found its niche amongst the available support structures, which include the Ombudsman and the Social Affairs Service. Within their respective remits, the common mission of all these services is to listen to members of the CERN personnel and to orient them in a professional and competent way towards the most effective solution.

Consultations at the psychology service are available, by appointment only, on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Appointments can be arranged by contacting or the Medical Service secretariat.

by Caroline Duc