Dr Zara Hansen

MCSP, BSc (Hons), PGrad Dip CBT, PhD

I graduated from Keele University with a BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy in 1997. I then worked within the NHS and private sector specialising in the area of musculoskeletal outpatients.

During this time I developed a special interest in chronic pain management that led me to undertake a Post Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) at the University of East Anglia from 2002-3. Over the last 12 years I have trained nearly 2000 health professionals in CBT skills.

In 2004 I joined the University of Warwick Clinical Trials Unit as a Clinical Research Fellow investigating the clinical and cost effectiveness of a cognitive behavioural (CB) group approach to chronic low back pain (Back Skills Training Trial; BeST). My PhD, conducted at the University of Warwick, investigated the competence of physiotherapists to deliver CB approaches and was awarded in 2014 (click here for my thesis). I am currently working at the University of Oxford in the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in CBT. Current projects include involvement in a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of CBT in all mental health and physical health conditions. I am a co-applicant on the BOOST programme looking at the optimal management of spinal stenosis, and a co-applicant on the GRASP trial looking at conservative management of rotator cuff disorder.

I am a clinical specialist physiotherapist at my local hospital where I see a range of patients who might benefit from psychologically informed physiotherapy.

I live in the Wirral with my husband and two children, all of whom are highly obedient. I am also prone to fantasies about an ordered home life.


One and two day courses on the cognitive behavioural approach in the management of predominantly physical health problems.

So far I have trained over 2000 health professionals in CBT approaches, these include:- Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Anaesthetists, Nurses, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language therapists, Audiologists, Social Workers, and Dieticians

Clinical areas that these professionals have come from are diverse and include pain management, musculo-skeletal out-patients, neurology, respiratory, paediatrics, community, diabetes, and rheumatology.


Click here for more details
Co-trained physiotherapist and cognitive behavioural therapist - 100%
Conducted high quality research into CBT approaches - 100%
PhD in competence around delivering CBT approaches - 100%
Highly experienced trainer - 100%
Ability to make course attendees wee a bit with laughter - 30%

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has become the psychological treatment model of choice for a range of emotional and psychiatric disorders due to the accumulating evidence base and subsequent guideline recommendations.

The cognitive behavioural (CB) approach has been applied successfully in the management of chronic pain for a number of years and is now being applied to aid the management of many on-going health conditions such as :-

  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • diabetes
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

..with this list increasing year on year. The approach is also being used within acute settings to target the biopsychosocial risk factors for chronicity / disability (also known as “yellow flags”).

See here for an interview I did with Strength Physio on the use of a CB approach in the management of pain.


The CB Model


The CB model is a psychological model that links thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It is a deceptively simple model that gives us a framework for understanding why we do the things we do.

For more information on the CB model please visit the resources and the faqs pages.

Some Statistics

The following statistics are sourced from DoH 2012 Long-term conditions compendium, WHO 2003 Adherence to long-term therapies and Sluijis 1993

15.4 million in England with a long-term health condition.
50-65% of all doctor appointments are accounted for by long-term health conditions
50% Medication adherence among patients suffering chronic diseases.
70% Estimated non-adherence with physiotherapy treatment and exercise.