Psychologically informed physiotherapy (SEM-06)

Psychologically informed physiotherapy


People with long-term physical health conditions and chronic pain are two to three times more likely to experience mental health problems, with increased risk of depression. Mental health issues are increasing rapidly worldwide due to factors such as ageing and multi morbidity, with projections that by 2030 mental health problems will be the leading cause of mortality and morbidity globally. Therefore, Physiotherapists need to be competent in addressing patients’ psychosocial well-being in order to address the requirements of the WHO’s Rehabilitation 2030 Agenda.

Despite strong evidence for the effectiveness of psychosocial therapies in the management of chronic pain and (co-morbid) mental health problems, globally, there is insufficient access to skilled psychological practitioners. Therefore, a drive exists in many countries for physiotherapists to upskill in psychological therapies, such as low-intensity cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Psychologically Informed Physiotherapy Practice (PIPP) often involves CBT skills, in combination with ‘traditional’ physiotherapy, delivered by a physiotherapist. While many physiotherapists demonstrate positive attitudes and beliefs regarding PIPP, further professional development, including cultural adaptations, in this area is required to instil greater confidence.

Aspects of physical health are taught widely in physiotherapy curricula, but important precursors to mental well-being, such as psychological and social capital optimisation, receive little attention. Thus, educators responsible for training the next generation of physiotherapists for PIPP need to incorporate this early in and throughout students’ pre-qualifying education and initial professional formation.


  1. To argue the case for the routine implementation and inclusion in entry level education of Psychologically Informed Physiotherapy Practice when addressing global health issues, e.g. the demands of an ageing population, multi-morbidity, mental health, physical activity and chronic pain.
  2. To outline the evidence for and features of routine Psychologically Informed Physiotherapy Practice for multiple fields of practice, rehabilitation settings and entry level education.
  3. To provide delegates with accessible and evidence-based models, practical resources and tools for embedding Psychologically Informed Physiotherapy Practice into their educational training and routine clinical practice

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