(BA (Hons) Eng Lit; BA (Hons) Psychol; PhD (Psychol); DClinPsych; MSt MBCT)

Chartered Clinical Psychologist Specialising in Psychotherapy, with Senior Practitioner Status 

James’ approach focuses on paying mindful and compassionate attention to emotional processes as they unfold in the therapeutic conversation. This increases awareness of problematic ways of coping with emotional distress, builds tolerance of healthy emotional experience, and supports people in finding clearer ways of expressing their needs and building intimacy with others in their lives. James’ work also emphasises client feedback on the process of therapy – expect to be asked to comment on how you are experiencing the therapeutic relationship. The aim here is to make the most of the therapy relationship as a new learning experience within which it is possible to let go of old, redundant ways of coping and experiment with more emotionally connected, meaningful ways of expressing oneself. Client feedback also helps us to be both flexible and disciplined in finding ways of tackling your problems that work for you.

James originally trained in Gestalt Therapy in the 1980s. Since then he has completed a PhD exploring the role of shame and other factors in psychotherapy clients’ decisions about whether to talk or not to talk about emotional experiences. He has also completed a doctorate in clinical psychology at the Salamons Centre (Canterbury Christchurch University College). He has trained in Experiential Dynamic Therapy (EDT) and is an accredited teacher and supervisor of EDT. He completed a MSt in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and teaches mindfulness to university students and staff. James studied Alliance-Focused Training (AFT) with the late Jeremy Safran and continues to work with and be mentored by Jeremy's close colleague, Chris Muran. He trained in Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) with Robert Elliott, another important mentor, and is a certified EFT therapist and supervisor in training. James has worked with traumatised refugees and subsequently as a clinical psychologist specialising in psychotherapy in adult mental health in the NHS between 2003 and 2013. He has been an academic tutor on the Oxford Doctoral Course of Clinical Psychology, and until 2019 was a Visiting Tutor, organising the module on psychodynamic therapy, and teaching on psychodynamic therapy, resolving problems in therapeutic relationships and on the clinical value of psychotherapy research. He was Director of Clinical Training for CORE-IMS between 2012 and 2014. James has a longstanding interest in research on psychotherapy and how we can improve psychotherapy services. He is involved in research on resolving problems in therapeutic relationships. He has taught on this topic over the last few years at various Universities and at the British Psychological Society. 

James works full time at Headington Psychotherapy and initial consultations can usually be arranged soon after you have made contact with us. Evening and Saturday morning appointments are also possible.


  • Macdonald, J. (1995). The clinical relevance of shame. Forum, 85, 28-29.
  • Macdonald, J. (1998). Disclosing shame. In P. Gilbert & B. Andrews (Eds.), Shame: Interpersonal behaviour, psychopathology, and culture (pp. 141-157). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Macdonald, J., & Davies, M. (2000). Modernising mental health service policy: an interview with Anne Richardson at the Department of Health. Psychology Research,10(1), 3-18.
  • Macdonald, J., & Morley, I. (2001). Shame and non-disclosure: A study of the emotional isolation of people referred for psychotherapy. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 74, 1-21. View Document.
  • Macdonald, J. (2002). Book review of ‘Cognitive-Analytic Therapy for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse: Approaches to Treatment and Case Management’ by Philip Pollock. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 17, 415.
  • Macdonald, J., Hollins, S. and Sinason, V. (2003). An interview study of people with learning disabilities’ experience of, and satisfaction with, psychodynamic group therapy. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 76, 433-453. View Document.
  • Macdonald, J., Cartwright, A. and Brown, G. (2007). A quantitative and qualitative exploration of client-therapist interaction and engagement in treatment in an alcohol service. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 80, 247-268. View Document.
  • Leeming, D., Boyle, M. and Macdonald, J. (2009). Accounting for psychological problems: how user-friendly is formulation? Clinical Psychology Forum, 200, 12-15. ISSN 1473-8279.
  • Derek (with notes by James Macdonald) (2012). A service user’s view of Experiential Dynamic Therapy. In F. Osimo & M. Stein [eds.]. Theory and Practice of Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy. London: Karnac.View Document*.
  • Macdonald, J. (2012). EDT in the context of psychotherapy research and mental health policy in the UK. In F. Osimo & M. Stein [eds.]. Theory and Practice of Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy. London: Karnac. View Document*.
  • Macdonald, J. (2013). ‘Formal’ feedback in psychotherapy as psychoanalytic technique. Psychodynamic Practice: Individuals, Groups and Organisations. View Document.
  • Macdonald, J. & Mellor-Clark, J. (2014). Correcting psychotherapists’ blindsidedness: Formal feedback as a means of overcoming the natural limitations of therapists.Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy. doi:10.1002/cpp.1887/full
  • Aafjes-van Doorn, K., Macdonald, J., Stein, M., Cooper, A.M. & Tucker, S. (2014) Experiential Dynamic Therapy: A Preliminary Investigation into the Effectiveness and Process of the Extended Initial Session. Journal of Clinical Psychology. DOI:1002/jclp22094 View Document.
  • Steel, C., Macdonald, J., Schroder, T. & Mellor-Clark, J. (2015). Exhausted but not Cynical: Burnout in Therapists Working Within Improving Access to Psychological Therapy Services. Journal of Mental Health, 24 (1), 33-37.
  • Llewelyn, S., Macdonald, J. & Aafjes-van Doorn, K. (2016). Process-Outcome Studies. In J. Norcross, G. VandenBos & D. Freedheim (eds.) APA Handbook of Clinical Psychology: Volume II. Clinical Psychology: Theory and Research. View Document.
  • Aafjes-van Doorn, K., Lilliengren, P., Cooper, A., Macdonald, J. & Falkenstrom, P. (2017). Patients' Affective Processes within Initial Experiential Dynamic Therapy Sessions. Psychotherapy. 
  • Steel, C., Macdonald, J. & Schroder, T. (2017). A systematic review of the effect of therapists’ internalised models of relationships on the quality of the therapeutic relationship. Journal of Clinical Psychology DOI: 10.1002/jclp.22484 
  • Macdonald, J. & Muran, J.C. (2020). The Reactive Therapist: The problem of interpersonal reactivity in psychological therapy and the potential for a mindfulness-based program focused on "Mindfulness-in-Relationship" skills for therapists. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/int0000200.  View Document.
  • Elliott, R. & Macdonald, J. (2020). Relational Dialogue in Emotion-Focused Therapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session. DOI: 10.1002/jclp.23069. View Document.
  • Macdonald, J., Elliott, R. & Couto, A. (2022). Relational Dialogue in Emotion-Focused Therapy: Process Analysis and Comparison with the Alliance-Focused Training Model. In C. Eubanks, L. Wallner Samstag, and J.C. Muran (Eds.) Rupture and Repair in Psychotherapy: A Critical Process for Change. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 

*These chapters were originally published in Theory and Practice of Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy, edited by Ferruccio Osimo and Mark J. Stein (published by Karnac Books in 2012), and reproduced with kind permission of Karnac Books.