Dr Peter Cairns

Chartered Clinical Psychologist

Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS)
Registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Peter worked in the NHS for over 20 years and now has his own independent practice. He has worked as a Clinical Psychologist in a range of mental health services in London, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. He has extensive experience of conducting assessments with adults, children, and adolescents, including assessments of mental health, personality, cognition, neuro-developmental issues, parenting, and the impact of trauma, abuse, and neglect. Peter has longstanding experience working therapeutically with individuals, groups, and families, using a range of psychological approaches.

Peter has over 10 years experience of working as an expert witness in family court cases, providing psychological assessment reports and giving oral evidence in court.

He has provided clinical supervision over many years, to psychologists, therapists, and a range of other mental health professionals. Please make inquiries about clinical supervision via email or the contact form.

Peter adheres to the professional guidelines of the British Psychological Society, its recommendations for ethical practice, and continuing professional development.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Peter Alexander Cairns
Chartered Clinical Psychologist
Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society
Registered with the Health and Care Professions Council

Relevant experience and skills

2012 – present                 Independent psychological work.

1. Independent legal work commissioned by the family courts.

  • Psychological assessment of adults and children;
  • Parenting capacity and capability;
  • Risk assessment;
  • Mental health and personality disorder;
  • Cognitive, learning, and capacity assessment;
  • Assessment and formulation of attachment;
  • Impact of trauma, abuse, and neglect;
  • Contact disputes and private legal proceedings.

2. Provision of individual psychological assessment, formulation and therapy.

  • Specialist application of a range of therapeutic models and interventions;
  • Working with adolescents and adults with a range of issues, including mood problems, PTSD, complex trauma, and interpersonal difficulties.

From January 2023         

Clinical Psychologist,
Autism assessment and diagnostic service,
Psychology Clinic of East Anglia, Norwich.

  • Specialist, multi-disciplinary assessment of autistic-spectrum conditions;
  • Psychologically-informed formulation, recommendations, and guidance for individuals and their families.

2012 – 2022 

Assessments for Educational Psychology and Specialist Support (EPSS), Norfolk County Council.

  • Psychological assessment of children and young people in education (aged 4 to 19 years);
  • Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) assessments of children and young people;
  • Assessment of learning and cognition;
  • Assessment of social, communication, and interaction difficulties;
  • Assessment of social, emotional, and mental health;
  • Impact of physical and sensory issues and disabilities.

April 2006 – March 2019
Clinical Psychologist, Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, based in Great Yarmouth (Norfolk), Lowestoft (Suffolk), and surrounding areas.

July 2010 – March 2019   Child, Family & Young Person Mental Health Services.

Lead psychologist since 2013.

  • Psychological assessment and treatment;
  • Individual, group, and family work;
  • Staff supervision and multi-agency consultation;
  • Strategic clinical leadership;
  • Local and trust-wide training;
  • Research and service evaluation. 

March 2006 – July 2010   Clinical Psychologist, Adult Mental Health Services.

  • Psychological assessment and treatment across primary and secondary care;
  • Clinical lead for the newly formed ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT);
  • Staff supervision and training.

April 2004 – March 2006  Clinical Psychologist, Oxleas NHS Trust, London.

  • Assessment and intervention with adults with severe and enduring mental health problems;
  • Inpatient work on an acute psychiatric ward and a low-secure rehabilitation unit.

Further Education

1991 – 1994            University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

B.A. (Hons.) Degree in Psychology                   Grade 2(I)

1999 – 2000            University of Bristol

MSc. in Research Methods in Psychology

2001 – 2004            Salomons / South Thames Clinical Psychology Training Scheme

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

2007 – 2009            North Thames CAT Training Course

Postgraduate Diploma in Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)

Recent Training

November 2018 – January 2019           Cambridge Centre for Attachment

Meaning of the Child training – A procedure for assessing and understanding parent-child relationships in ‘at-risk’ families (6 days)

I am accredited as a reliable coder in using this methodology

December 2019 Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust, London (Crittenden & Landini)

Attachment, Neurodevelopment, and Psychopathology (3 days)

January 2020 – February 2020             Anna Freud Centre, London

Stem Stories Assessment Profile training – A clinical tool for examining young children’s mental representations of attachment and relationships (3 days)

I am accredited as a reliable coder in using this methodology

November 2021                                   Anna Freud Centre, London

Child Triangulation Processes – A new, child-centered framework for understanding resistance to contact (Webinar).

September 2022                                   British Psychological Society

Expert Witness Conference 2022 (Webinar)

March - September 2023              Family Relations Institute

Adult Attachment Interview training (18 days)

Research & Publications

  • Cairns, P. & Jarrold, C. (2005). Exploring the correlates of impaired non-word repetition in Down Syndrome. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 23, 401 – 416.
  • McPherson, S., Cairns, P., Carlyle, J., Shapiro, D., Richardson, P. & Taylor, D. (2005). The effectiveness of psychological treatments for refractory depression: A systematic review. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 111, 331 – 340.
  • Hodgekins, J., Clarke, T., Cole, H., Markides, C., Ugochukwu, U., Cairns, P., Lower, R., Fowler, D. & Wilson, J. (2016). Pathways to care of young people accessing a pilot Specialist Youth Mental Health Service in Norfolk, United Kingdom. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, doi: 10.1111/eip.12338.
  • Crockford, H., Cairns, P., Kingerlee, R. & Goodwin, M. (2019). ‘You have to start somewhere’: A service improvement strategy for people with trauma-related dissociation in Norfolk. Clinical Psychology Forum, 314, 10-16.
  • Doctoral thesis – A qualitative project exploring the experience of returning to work for people with severe and enduring mental health problems (2004).
  • Book chapter – Cairns, P. & Howells, L. (2019). Angry Young Men: Using an Interpersonal Formulation of Anger to Help Bring about Change. In: Handbook of male mental health and male psychology: theory and practice. Editors: Dr. John Barry, Dr. Roger Kingerlee, Mr. Martin Seager, Dr. Luke Sullivan.
  • Norfolk Principle Investigator (PI) for the Early Youth Engagement (EYE-2) study based at the University of Sussex, a national Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) evaluating the effectiveness of innovative engagement approaches within Early Intervention in Psychosis Services.

Additional roles

Between August 2018 and July 2021, I was on the Board of Trustees at the St Barnabas Centre in Norwich. This organization offers low-cost counseling and psychotherapy to people in the local community.

From 2016 to 2019, I facilitated seminar groups for trainees on the Doctoral Clinical Psychology Programme, at the University of East Anglia.

Professional registration

I am a Clinical Psychologist registered with the Health Professions Council (registration number PYL03312) and the British Psychological Society (membership number 125771).