Physical Health Psychology at Strive Clinic


The Physical Health Psychology Service at Strive Clinic supports people with chronic physical health conditions through helping them manage the psychological and emotional impact of these conditions on their lives. This includes considering the interaction between the patient’s illness and their thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Who can benefit from a Physical Health Psychology service?

People attending our Physical Health Psychology Service fall into two broad categories;

  • People who are having psychological difficulties in managing their long-term illness
  • People who have developed a secondary psychological problem due to the diagnosis itself and/or events surrounding living with a long-term condition.

Illness which can generate significant psychological adjustment difficulties include:

  • Cancer diagnosis (solid and blood malignancies)
  • Chronic Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Stroke
  • Cardiac failure/MI (heart attack)
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Palliative diagnoses

Common challenges

We offer support to patients in coming to terms with diagnosis and treatment especially where this may include:

  • unwanted changes in identity, role or appearance
  • fatigue
  • low mood
  • anxiety and stress caused by living with and managing the illness
  • existential issues
  • uncertainty about future prognosis and treatment
  • fear of recurrence of illness
  • maintaining control over life
  • adjusting to life with the condition and worries about how the illness is affecting loved ones
  • eating distress associated with side effects of aggressive treatment
  • post-traumatic stress following diagnosis or because of treatment

The service is also open to family members and carers of those living with long-term conditions.

These problems can generate more formally known psychological illnesses such as;

  • depression
  • generalised anxiety
  • insomnia
  • agoraphobia
  • acute stress disorder
  • substance abuse

The Physical Health Psychology Service works in partnership with patients to reduce the distress commonly associated with chronic, long-term or life-threatening illness and improve their overall psychological and emotional well-being. Using research based psychological knowledge, we provide assessment, suggest strategies and support people in making the psychological adjustment to living with illness and help them build resilience despite the challenges physical limitations can create.

How we work

During the initial consultation, the psychologist will assess your needs, abilities or behaviour using a variety of methods, including psychometric questionnaires, interviews and direct observation.

This will inform development of an intervention programme, including therapy, counselling or advice. In consultation with you, a therapy programme will be mutually agreed.

Various therapy models may be employed to assist psychological adjustment including

  • Psycho-education regarding the impact of the illness
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Narrative Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Behavioural Therapy

In order to provide the best possible care, the Psychologist may liaise with medical and allied health professionals to ensure that enhanced psychological care can be offered.

If the Psychologist identifies other conditions or factors influencing adjustment you may be offered referral to other disciplines within Strive Clinic to help you meet your goals.

 Dr. John Donohue, Clinical Psychologist, Strive Clinic Galway

Dr. John Donohue, Clinical Psychologist, Strive Clinic Galway

Physical Health Psychology Team

Dr. John Donohue is Clinical Psychologist at Strive Clinic Galway and has a specific interest and experience in the psychological challenges facing people who are living with physical medical conditions, e.g. cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, etc. Prior to joining Strive Clinic, John spent 10 years working in the area of Physical Health Psychology in the NHS. 

How to refer

Consultants, GP’s and other healthcare professionals may refer patients by contacting Strive Clinic Galway. Due to the added complexity of physical health factors, written referrals are requested from referrers stating the illness, current treatment plans and the reasons for the referral. These can be faxed to 091 393 181 or emailed to 

You can also refer yourself to this psychology service and if further medical information is required our healthcare team at Strive Clinic will contact your GP or hospital team (with your consent) to get more medical information about your case. You can call 091 393 180 to make an appointment.

Payment & Reimbursement

Specialist rehabilitation services at Strive Clinic are recognised by all major health insurers. Extent of cover depends on policy held – please contact individual insurers or Strive Clinic Reception for more details. The cost of an initial appointment with Dr. John Donohue, Clinical Psychologist at Strive Clinic Galway, is €120 for 75 minutes. Follow up appointments last 60 minutes and the fee is €100. Reduced fees are available for students and medical card holders.