Professor Chris Williams

  • Professor of Psychosocial Psychiatry (Mental Health & Wellbeing)
  • Associate (School of Medicine)

telephone: 01412113912


Chris Williams is Professor of Psychosocial Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. His main clinical and research interest is in the area of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and in particular in looking at ways of disseminating this approach more widely. He has developed written and computer-based self-help treatments for anxiety, depression and bulimia and is a well-known CBT researcher, trainer and teacher. He is a President-elect of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies - the lead body for CBT in the United Kingdom and also a past Governing Board member of the United Kingdom for Psychotherapy (UKCP).  He is Director of Glasgow Institute of Psychosocial Interventions (GIPSI) - which has a focus on training and research in evidence-based psychosocial interventions. He is also a Trustee of the charity Triumph over Phobia - a user-led self-help organisation addressing self-management of anxiety and a Patron of the National Phobics Society - the anxiety disorders charity.

He has published a number of self-help packages addressing depression, bulimia and anxiety - details of which are available at

He has written and supports two websites Living Life to the Full and for users and practitioners respectively. Living Life to the Full is a free online life skills site identified as one of the top 4 mental health portals by the Times newspaper (November 11th 2006),,8123-2446026,00.html.

Research interests

Research interests focus on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and in particular in looking at ways of disseminating this approach more widely to non-CBT specialists. This has included the development and evaluation of a jargon-free CBT model (the so-called five areas approach) and linked training courses SPIRIT (Structured Psychosocial InteRventions In Teams) project in secondary care and the START project (Self-help training access resource team) in primary care. Linked to this, he has developed a series of training CD ROMs and online packages aimed at helping train health care practitioners in the detection and treatment of common mental disorders.

His main focus is on the evaluation of a series of written (Overcoming Depression and Overcoming Anxiety) and computerised (Overcoming Depression and Overcoming Bulimia) self-help packages for use by patients experiencing common mental health disorders. This includes a CSO funded randomised controlled trial of written Cognitive Behaviour Therapy self-help materials, two MRC-funded Brain Sciences Platform studies examining the treatment of bulimia in adolescents online and medically unexplained symptoms in neurology clinics, a current large HTA funded project examining CBT for treatment resistant depression in primary care, and current randomised controlled evaluations of the effectiveness of the Living Life to the Full, Overcoming anorexia and Overcoming bulimia websites.

His clinical work has focused on the local delivery of CBT self-help materials including running the University accredited SPIRIT training course in the use of CBT self-help materials, and the Living Life to the Full College course and website  - which has averaged over a million "hits" a month and is recommended by various bodies such as CSIP.

He has a close interest in teaching and training and co-organises the delivery and examinations for the Undergraduate Psychiatry course.


Grants and Awards listed are those received whilst working with the University of Glasgow.

  • Development of a guided self-help Cognitive Behavioural Therapy resource for the reduction of dental anxiety in young people aged 11-16 years
    National Institute for Health Research
    2013 - 2015
  • BEAT-IT: A randomised controlled trial comparing a behavioural activation treatment for depression in adults with learning disabilities with an attention control
    Health Technology Assessment
    2013 - 2016
  • A feasibility study of Recovery versus Mindfulness models for Depression in Self-help help groups (REMoDES)
    Scottish Executive Health Department
    2012 - 2014
  • Counselling versus low-intensity cognitive behavioural interventions for persistent subthreshold and mild depression (CLICD): A pilot/feasibility randomised controlled trial
    Scottish Executive Health Department
    2012 - 2013
  • Learning disabilities - The Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory
    Scottish Government - Health and Social Care Integration Dir
    2012 - 2018
  • A randomised controlled trial of a community based group guided self-help intervention for low mood and stress.
    Scottish Executive Health Department
    2012 - 2014
  • A pilot study of behavioural activation for depressive symptoms in adults with learning disabilities
    NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board
    2009 - 2011
  • Functional MRI markers associated with initial and sustained response to CBT
    Greater Glasgow & Clyde Primary Care Trust
    2009 - 2010
  • Guided self help for adults with learning disabilities and depression and anxiety
    Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS Trust
    2008 - 2009
  • Brief NHS Direct phone support for computer based Living Life To The Full: A randomised controlled study with economic analysis
    Department of Health
    2008 - 2011
  • Pilot study of a practice nurse supported psychological self help intervention for patients with diabetes or coronary heart disease and co-morbid depression
    Scottish Executive Health Department
    2008 - 2009
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy for treatment resistant depression in primary care - a randomised controlled trial
    Health Technology Assessment
    2008 - 2012
  • An evaluation of the effectiveness of structured cognitive behaviour therapy self-help materials delivered by a self-help support worker
    NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
    2007 - 2007
  • Early intervention for adolescents with bulimia nervosa - a feasibility study of a web-based CBT intervention with flexible support
    2005 - 2007
  • A complex intervention for patients with medically unexplained neurological symptoms - trial platform
    2004 - 2006
  • An evaluation of the effectiveness of structured Cognitive Behaviour Therapy self-help materials delivered by a self-help support worker within Primary Care.
    Scottish Executive Health Department
    2004 - 2007