Chronic Pain

The Whittington Chronic Pain Psychology Service receives referrals from members of the Chronic Pain Team. This currently includes a Chronic Pain Consultant and two Extended Scope Physiotherapy Practitioners.  The service accepts referrals from clients with any kind of chronic pain condition, including but not exclusively: osteoarthritis, spondylosis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome, musculoskeletal pain, sciatica.
Psychology input focuses on helping clients to manage the impact of pain on their lives, including: low mood, anger or anxiety in relation to pain, increased disability, difficulties with relationships or reduced quality of life due to chronic pain. Support can be offered via our Pain Management Group programme (see details below) or 1:1 input. Current approaches include CBT (including ACT and CFT), Systemic and Narrative styles – however this can be flexible depending on the clinician’s background and training.

Pain management programme

This is a six week (3 hours per session) programme run jointly with a physiotherapist from the MSK service. This covers similar topics to the Islington IAPT Chronic Pain Management Group, except this is set up as a “Step 3” intervention. This group has more of a focus on ACT concepts such as values and acceptance and goes through material in more depth. There is also more opportunity for clients to interact as a group and develop therapeutic relationships, as this is a closed group and therefore suitable for a slightly more complex presentation. We also aim to model pacing throughout sessions, allowing the group to dictate when and how many breaks are taken.


Referrals can be made from the following Whittington teams:

  • Whittington Hospital Team: Pain Management (All referrals to the Psychology arm of the Pain Management Service need to go to Consultant Anaesthetists at The Whittington Hospital)
Patients can request a pain psychology referral at their next pain management outpatient appointment.
If the patient feels unable to wait, s/he (or the psychologist) can contact Kimberly Farrell, Chronic Pain secretary, on 020 7288 5353 ( ) and ask Kimberly to inform the most recently seen chronic pain health professional of this request for a referral. This health professional can then make this referral (unless there are clear reasons why s/he thinks this is not appropriate).

Waiting times

On receipt of the referral form, we write to invite people to an initial information session. Here we discuss our approach to pain management and the options on offer, inviting patients to opt in or out of the service at this point.
We then invite patients to an initial assessment appointment to discuss their difficulties in more depth, prior to offering 1:1 sessions, the Pain Management Programme or an onward referral if appropriate. The target wait time for an assessment appointment following attendance at our Information Session is within 4 weeks – the target wait for treatment following this is within 12 weeks after assessment. 

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