About Therapy

Persistent pain and chronic illnesses come with medical, social, emotional and psychological challenges. Exercise, sleep, relationships, self esteem and work capacity can suffer. In addition, anxiety and depression can worsen with persistent pain as some people withdraw and become socially isolated. Psychology is built into the very definition of pain and illness, and pain psychologists possess a particular insight and understanding into these difficulties. Research has shown that interdisciplinary psychological therapy and physiotherapy can provide patients with mind-body interventions that are often required.

Our Approach

What to expect?

It is totally normal to feel a little nervous before your first therapy session, so don’t worry if you do. Instead, you can give yourself a little encouragement because, for some people meeting with a therapist can take some courage. In advance of your first session, if you like, you can prepare some questions for your therapist and bring these with you. Feel free to ask about anything you would like to understand better e.g. about the process of therapy, the therapist’s style, her training and experience etc. Your first session may take a little over an hour and each session thereafter will last 55 minutes. The therapist will help you to feel comfortable, she will give you some general guidelines about confidentiality and about how the therapy may progress. She may also want to gather some initial information from you across a variety of topics in order to get to know you.

Remember your therapist is there to help you and support you with kindness and compassion. The therapeutic relationship is at the heart of what we do at Hilltop Psychology and we favour an equal, non-judgemental and collaborative style, which means that you are actively involved in the therapy process.

If you would like to know a little more about the therapies that we use please feel free to read on, however, bear in mind that these are only brief explanations and it is not necessary to read about the therapies before attending. In fact, it may be more beneficial to ‘experience’ the therapies rather than reading about them beforehand!


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a unique evidence based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility means contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being, and based on what the situation affords, changing or persisting in behavior in the service of chosen values.


Traditional CBT teaches coping skills for dealing with different problems. You may learn ways of coping with different situations, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. For example if you feel anxious, if you feel depressed, if you experience sleep problems, if you have relationship difficulties.


Provided one day per week, over a period of either 6 weeks or 8 weeks, Mindfulness Based Interventions (MBIs) promote self awareness, adoption of new behaviours, personal development and general wellbeing. These programmes are provided in group settings. Please check our group programmes and PMPs for further information or contact our admin team.

It was developed in the late 1980s by Steven C. Hayes, Kelly G. Wilson, and Kirk Strosahl. It has some similarities with, and differences from, traditional Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). One of the principal differences is that ACT aims to change our relationship with unwanted thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations so that they don’t have so much control over our actions. This difference in approach arises from the philosophy underlying ACT whereby it is not the content of our private experiences that causes psychological suffering, rather our avoidance or entanglement with those experiences. In fact, research shows that suppressing or eliminating unwelcome thoughts and feelings can result in a paradoxical effect, whereby the frequency and intensity of these experiences actually increase.

The goal of ACT is to enable us to pursue a meaningful life that is guided by our values whilst also accepting the uncomfortable or unwanted thoughts and emotions that will inevitably show up as we engage in such valued actions.

ACT provides a toolkit of skills via experiential exercises and values-guided behavioural interventions that allow us to change our relationship to our private experiences and thus how we respond to them. Central to ACT is ‘mindfulness’, a transformative mental state of awareness, openness, and focus. Used within ACT, mindfulness skills are quick and easy to acquire. You can literally learn them in a few minutes, and they will rapidly and effectively help you to reduce the impact and influence of painful thoughts and feelings, break the grip of self-defeating habits, and engage fully in your life.

A typical structure of a CBT session may include the following:

  • At the beginning of the therapy, you and your therapist may explore the problems you want to work on.
  • When you have agreed which difficulties you want to focus on and what your goals are, you may start planning the content of sessions and talking about how you would like to move forward.
  • During the session, you might work through exercises with your therapist to explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This may be in the form of diagrams or worksheets.
  •  You may be asked if you would like to do some work in your own time between sessions, so at the end of each session you might agree on some exercises to work on.
  • At the beginning of your next session it might begin by going over the conclusions from your previous session, and discussing what progress you’ve made with any work you agreed to do.