This blog offers health care providers thoughtful commentary and resources so they can help people develop their skills for living well, while respecting individual values.

Why call it Healthskills?  click here to find out…

About me: I trained as an occupational therapist, and graduated in 1984. Since then I’ve continued study at postgraduate level and my papers have included business skills, ergonomics, mental health therapies, and psychology. I completed by Masters in Psychology in 1999, and started my PhD in 2007. I’ve now finished my thesis (yay!) and can call myself Dr, or as my kids call me, Dr Mum.

I have a passion to help people experiencing chronic health problems achieve their potential. I have worked in the field of chronic pain management, helping people develop ‘self management’ skills for 20 years. Many of the skills are directly applicable to people with other health conditions.

My way of working: collaboratively – all people have limitations and vulnerabilities – as well as strengths and potential. I use a cognitive and behavioural approach – therapy isn’t helpful unless there are visible changes! I don’t use this approach exclusively, because it is necessary to ‘borrow’ at times from other approaches, but I encourage ongoing evaluation of everything that is put forward as ‘therapy’. I’m especially drawn to what’s known as third wave CBT, things like mindfulness, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and occupation.

I’m also an educator. I take this role very seriously – it is as important to health care as research and clinical skill. I offer an active knowledge of the latest research, integrated with current clinical practice, and communicated to clinicians working directly with people experiencing chronic ill health. I’m a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Orthopaedic surgery & Musculoskeletal Medicine at the University of Otago Christchurch Health Sciences. Remember though: this blog represents my opinion, and not the opinion of my employer.

I also offer courses, training and supervision for therapists working with people experiencing chronic ill health.

If you are a person experiencing health problems, you may find information here that is helpful. I encourage you to make sure any advice you receive anywhere (including here) is based on sound scientific studies. This blog is not designed to give any personal advice on health conditions, and should not replace a consultation with your own health care providers. I cannot be personally held responsible for any decisions you make on the basis of the information in this blog.

Some comments about commenting

I hope you find this blog interesting, thought-provoking and challenging. I look forward to dialogue, debate and differences – but be prepared to support your point of view with evidence. If you hold an opinion, make sure you have some science to back it up!  If you comment, I’m bound to consider your opinion to be non-medical or a lay opinion. All commenters must behave at all times with respect and honesty.

If you do decide to comment, please remember that your posts will be visible to everyone – but you may edit or delete your comments if you wish.   If you comment, and give recommendations, you must either provide a link to a reputable source to verify it, or make it clear that you have personally experienced it yourself.  Your comments must be true and not be misleading, and please remember, that I do not allow comments that are advertisements for products or services.  I don’t allow any advertisements on this blog, and any announcements I do make are purely for education (I don’t make money from advertising on this blog).


What you’ll find here over time:

  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)
  • chronic pain management
  • relaxation
  • motivation
  • values-based therapy
  • research
  • psychology
  • interdisciplinary teams
  • using exposure therapy
  • and more!!

Bronwyn Thompson, PhD, MSc (Psych) 1st Class Hons, DipOT, Registered Occupational Therapist

Please note: I do not allow advertising on this site, and receive no advertising revenue from any links that you may follow. This site is personally funded by me, and I receive no funding from any agency or organisation for the production or information contained on this website.

All case reports presented on these pages are typically composites of multiple patients with identifying information changed for the sake of confidentiality. All opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author only, and do not represent the positions of her employers or any medical facility or organization with which she is affiliated.

Last updated: October 2019


To contact me, complete the box below!:


  1. Hi Bronwyn
    I applaud what you’re doing and the service and encouragement you’re offering clinicians. As you probably are aware I’m on a journey to help myself to wellness from CRPS/RSD. In a little over 12 months I’ve gone from chronic, intractable, quite severe pain and symptoms to a much better quality of life with manageable flare ups. Although many things have helped, the most helpful with easing and stopping pain has been mirror therapy. It has stopped pain not only from this syndrome but pain of a tooth abscess and other acute pains. David Butler who co wrote Explain Pain” with Dr Lorimer Mosely told me that in Australia there is not finantial gain to be made by big funding drug companies for research into mirror therapy. I will be devoting time this year to approaching our new Labour Government to fund research which would give credibility to this very effective way of stopping the brain’s message of pain.
    I was wondering if this might be a part of PhD study.

    Also, I notice a lot of people join up for emails of my posts. I would be keen to get your’s by email if you consider adding this.


  2. Hi and Happy New Year jeisea!
    Thanks for stopping by and taking time out to comment. Great idea to ask for sponsorship by Govt for this kind of therapy. David Butler is quite correct, there really isn’t a lot of money to be found for non-pharmacological research. It would be wonderful to think that people might fund it because it is helpful – but most research in healthcare is driven by the mighty dollar. Same thing in most universities now too, where Govt funding has reduced unless the outcome of research is something that can be sold. Shame. Good luck to you and keep us posted. Yes, mirror therapy studies would certainly be an excellent PhD topic!

  3. Oooops, I forgot to add that I don’t know how to set up an email of my posts – I’ve suggested people use RSS feeds instead, but will take a look at the logistics of emailing as well. You can subscribe via Google Reader also, which allows you off-line access to the contents of any blogs that you subscribe to.

  4. Hi Bronwyn

    I really like your blog! It’s informative and helpful to lots of different people, and on top of that it’s funny as well. Therefore, I have added you to my blogroll, hope that’s ok…

    My own blog is still in its baby shoes but with time it will hopefully be useful to some people as well. Of course, I’m not as qualified as you are, but I’m working on it :-}


  5. Hi Yvonne – thanks so much for visiting and even more for commenting! It’s a pleasure to know that you appreciate what I’ve started to do here. I’m grateful that you want to put a link to my blog on yours, thanks!

  6. Hi
    Forgot to ask if I may put your link on my blog. Just as an update, I am now of the firm opinion that due to the brain’s plasticity and competitive nature, there are many ways to retrain the brain. Great blog. Many thanks. I’ve joined your rss feed.

  7. Hi Jeisea
    Of course you can add my blog to your blogroll – and yes there is more and more evidence to show that the brain is really plastic and able to use multiple forms of input to alter how it works. I’ll post some more on brain plasticity later.

  8. Thank you for your wonderful site and I have also picked up your RSS feed so I don’t miss anything. You are a wonderful educational and practical resource on coping and I look forward to learning a great deal from you.

    Best always~

  9. Hi Maria
    Thanks for your kind comments, it’s wonderful to think that what I’m putting on here is helpful. Let me know if there is anything you’d like more of.

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  11. Hello Bronwyn
    I look forward to looking through your website.
    My interest is in the negative effects on health outcomes from compensation systems – an Australian/Tasmanian perspective. Also interested in computer-related pain syndromes – see http://www.tipssite.org
    Peter Sharman – Occupational Physician – Hobart

  12. Dr. Bronwyn Thompson,

    I hope this finds you well – my name is Daniel, and I am a pain management OT here in the USA. Our kind is exceedingly rare, so it is a relief and an empowerment to find someone of your knowledge and stature (albeit on the other side of the globe). I would absolutely love to communicate with you, perhaps on an email basis, as to both learn from your wisdom and refine my own perspective. If this is possible, then I would be honored to speak further with you.
    -Daniel Martin, OTR/L, FAAPM, FASSET, CMTPT/CDN
    Fellow of the American Academy of Pain Management
    Fellow of the American Society of Shoulder and Elbow Therapists

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