About Contextual Consulting

Contextual Consulting was founded in 2012 by Dr Joe Oliver, a clinical psychologist, and associate professor at University College London. The business was born out of Joe’s deep passion for acceptance and commitment therapy (also known as ACT), both in his professional practice and personal life.

In recent years, there has been a remarkable surge in global interest and engagement with ACT across various fields and disciplines. This exponential growth reflects the increasing desire for individuals worldwide to deepen their understanding and application of ACT principles in their personal and professional lives.

We’ve grown into a team of presenters, therapists and support staff over our years, but our goal continues to be the connection of the ACT community through three strands of support: training, supervision and therapy referrals.


A note from our founder, Dr Joe Oliver

Our story

In 2004, as a fresh-faced clinical psychologist from New Zealand, working in a busy London community mental health team, I felt immense pressure to perform well and had a strong sense of responsibility. I vividly recall one time in a morning a team meeting where I had to read out a referral letter from a GP. My mind raced, my heart pounded, and my voice trembled as I began reading. I was convinced that everyone could sense my anxiety, and I thought I was weird or strange. As acute feelings of shame and embarrassment overcame me, I faked a stomach ache and hurriedly left the room. I believed that I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes and had to handle everything perfectly. I had learned growing up in New Zealand and within my family that discussing my struggles was not a good thing, which added to my burden.

From then on, public speaking became excruciating for me as anxiety took hold. I did my best to avoid speaking in public and in cases where I had no choice, I overprepared to ensure I wouldn’t appear incompetent. One of the most challenging aspects was that public speaking was becoming increasingly important for my job, and I wanted to feel confident and at ease in such settings. However, I couldn’t escape the feeling of being a complete impostor.

A turning point came when I finally confided in a close friend about my struggles. I vividly remember the advice he gave me: “Why not try accepting your anxiety?” This shifted my perspective entirely, as I realised I could develop a different relationship with my anxiety rather than constantly fighting against it. Over time, I learned that I didn’t have to hide my vulnerability and that my anxiety stemmed from the fact that I was often engaging in something meaningful. It was like a flag inside me, saying, “Hey, this matters to you!”. From that moment, I decided never to run away from myself during those moments, but instead to stay with myself, show kindness, and acknowledge my fear while standing by my side.

Through these experiences, I personally discovered the power of acceptance and values. I also witnessed the extraordinary difference it made in the lives of the individuals I worked with in therapy. This approach was grounded in the fundamental notion that we are simply stuck in our lives, not broken or flawed, and that we just need better tools to navigate life’s challenges. I cherished the loved and deep acceptance that this perspective fostered.

Also, being a bit of a nerd, I found the science behind Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Contextual Behaviour Science appealing. They aimed to grapple with the complexities of human existence and the pursuit of a meaningful life, utilising data to guide the progress of the therapeutic model.

Contextual Consulting was born out of the passion and enthusiasm that emerged from these experiences, and the desire to share these transformative ideas with as many people as possible.

I am excited to continue walking alongside you on your journey.

Dr Joe Oliver, Clinical psychologist and founder of Contextual Consulting


Learn more about us and start your ACT journey today:

Acceptance and commitment therapy training

Our training facilitates an interesting and accessible ACT curriculum, highlighting the practical benefits and breadth of uses for the model across a variety of situations. We have already helped over 50,000 professionals to advance their continuing development.

We know your time is precious so we offer both live workshops and flexible, on-demand courses plus recordings for you to learn in your own time and at your own pace. Our workshops keep practitioners up to date with the latest techniques because we engage world-renowned speakers, experts in cutting-edge research and presenters who are approachable, and knowledgeable about ACT. We aim to offer practical solutions to the challenges of working in mental health.

More about our ACT training

Acceptance and commitment therapy supervision

Our ACT supervision environments are supportive and tailored to professional’s specific learning needs. We see supervision as absolutely integral to your ACT practice to help you be the best acceptance and commitment therapy practitioner you can be. Our supervision will help you sharpen your formulations and become more compassionate of the issues your clients face, reflecting on your experiences while making sense of them and assisting you in the precision and impact of your interventions.

Learn more about supervision

Psychological therapy

Our team of experienced clinical psychologists are here to help with a range of psychological therapies that that are private, safe and most importantly help you to move on from any problems you are currently facing. We offer free telephone consultation with one of our therapists to discuss your personal requirements and options. We don’t operate a waiting list, which means we can quickly offer you an initial appointment, as sessions are currently offered online. We work with respect, discretion and professionalism at all times.

More about our psychological therapy


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