David Gillanders

Head of Clinical Psychology


I graduated from City University in London and trained in clinical psychology at the University of Glasgow, qualifying in 2000. My major research thesis was an experimental study investigating repetitive information processing in depression.

After qualifying I worked for NHS Ayrshire, spending part of the time in a community mental health team and part of the time in a district general hospital treating individuals who had been referred from a wide range of medical specialties and in particular chronic pain services.

I joined the University of Edinburgh in October 2004 and until August 2012 spent half the week working for the University and the other part of the week working for NHS Lothian Chronic Pain Service. I now work full time for the Doctorate Programme in Clinical Psychology, where I lead the teaching, assessment and curriculum aspects of the programme as Academic Director. 

My main theoretical interest is in contextual behavioural approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT, asid as one word, rather than three letters).

To see me talking about how to apply ACT in Juvenile Ideopathic Arthritis, click here: Arthurs Place

To see me talk about ACT for Depression at a recent Edinburgh Neuroscience / Global Health Academy Public Lecture, click here

To see Sarah Gillanders and I talk about applying ACT with people with Multiple Sclerosis, click here.


I am one of only a handful of Peer Reviewed Trainers in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in the UK and can provide training to other organisations in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, through an arrangement via Edinburgh Research and Innovation. Please email me to enquire further. 

To see my training materials go to my training page at:


 You will need to join ACBS to download materials.

Postgraduate teaching

  • DClinPsychol, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • DClinPsychol, Research Tutorials

Research summary

I lead a research programme in clinical health psychology, focused on a variety of long term health conditions and investigating different theoretical perspectives on psychological factors in long term conditions. This research strategy supports thesis projects for DClinPsychol students, and PhD students.

These projects have investigated adjustment and accetpance in chronic pain and other long term health conditions, including breast cancer, HIV, diabetes and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This programme of research has investigated relationships between appraisals, acceptance, adjustment, emotion regulation and how these relate to emotional and behavioural function.

In addition I am interested in visual imagery based cognition and its relationship to emotional and behavioural functioning, relative to more verbal forms of cognition, across different psychological problems.

Current research interests

The majority of my research activity comes through the supervision and mentorship of Trainee Clinical Psychologists and PhD students. Many of these research collaborations lead to publication and presentation, for a list of publications and conference presentations see below. Our research programme has two main overlapping strands: living effectively with chronic illness, and theory and measurment in acceptance and commitment therapy. These research themes have led to studies and collaborative projects in the area of chronic pain, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis. In addiiton, we have published a well validated measure of cognitive fusion. A developing area that I am currently working on is the empirical evaluation of ACT training, and the application of ACT to Palliative and Supportive care.

View all 69 publications on Research Explorer