Chronic Pain

CHP - Chronic Pain - Top Image
Service lead: to be confirmed

Who is in the team?

  • Lead Counselling Psychologist
  • Dr Emily Leonhardt-Parr, Counselling Psychologist
  • Trainee counselling/ clinical psychologists

Who do we provide services for?

The Whittington Pain Management Psychology Service receives referrals from members of the Persistent Pain Team. This currently includes a Persistent Pain Consultant and two 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
  • 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

The pain management programme is a 12-week (2.5 hours per session) programme run jointly with a physiotherapist from the MSK service.
The programme  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 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.


Patients can request a pain psychology referral at their next pain management outpatient appointment.
If a patient feels unable to wait, they (or the psychologist) can contact the Chronic Pain secretary, on 020 7288 3929  and ask them 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 telephone patients to acknowledge their referral. 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 an opt-in call is within 6 weeks – the target wait for treatment following this is within 12 weeks after assessment.

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Page last updated: 09 Jun 2022
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