My interest in chronic pain started many years ago during my clinical practice as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist. Noticing that traditional physiotherapy approaches were not effective with people living with persistent pain, I then started to be curious about the complexity of persistent pain. Later, I spent a few years working in a Spinal Cord Injury Unit, as a neuro-physiotherapist, and I was deeply touched by how many patients were suffering from neuropathic pain, a particular type of chronic pain that can be very debilitating. At that time, the only answers to manage pain were based on medications.
Dr. Valentina Buscemi | Pain Therapist
From that point, I started my journey of exploration in the field of pain science. I first earned my MSc and then my Ph.D.. During my doctorate, I started to explore the role of stress in pain and how this can impact on the initiation and perpetuation of pain and suffering. At the same time, two important things happened in my own journey. I discovered the power of mindfulness meditation which led me to qualify as a meditation and chair yoga teacher, and I discovered the Sensory Processing Sensitivity trait, which is present in around 20% of the population worldwide (for more information click on the Highly Sensitive People button above).
I then had the privilege to work in the NHS alongside a very experienced multidisciplinary team in a well-known Pain Management Unit in the UK where I trained as a psychologically informed physiotherapist (and chronic pain therapist) using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT model, which draws many of its components from the mindfulness-meditation tradition (for more information on the model see the "Pain Management" section). I can finally say that I am now more than ever very passionate about putting in practice what I learned in my professional journey, by "joining the dots" using a body-mind approach within the ACT model to support people living with chronic pain and also those who are Highly Sensitive.
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Qualifications and training
I qualified as a Physiotherapist in Italy and I am now a chartered Physiotherapist according to the Health Care Professions Council in the UK.
I completed my MSc in Neurorehabilitation at Brunel University of London and wrote my dissertation based on a qualitative research study exploring living with neuropathic pain after a spinal cord injury.
As I started to become more and more interested in understanding the neurophysiology of pain, I earned a Doctorate Degree in Australia, at Western Sydney University. My studies focussed on understanding the role of stress and changes in cortisol levels in people who transit from acute to chronic non-specific low back pain.
Following my Ph.D., I completed the course on “Pain management: putting cognitive-behavioral therapy skills into practice” at The Pain Management Research Institute (University of Sydney) and I participated in the “ACT for Chronic Pain” workshop with Dr. Lance McCracken and other short courses and webinars via the UK Physiotherapy Pain Association (PPA), which I'm a member of.
Between 2019-2021, I worked as a Specialist Physiotherapist in the NHS at one of the UK’s national Pain Management Units, at St Thomas' Hospital in London where I trained as a Pain Therapist in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
In 2021 I completed a programme with Dr. Elaine Aron (the renowned researcher on sensory processing sensitivity) on “Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person” and I have qualified as an HSP-Knowledgeable Professional and listed on her website at https://hsperson.com/therapists/seeking-an-hsp-knowledgeable-therapist/uk/.
In the last couple of years, my interests have moved towards understanding further the role of trauma, and how high levels of stress negatively impact on the body and nervous system, and I am now following the latest theories and models in my practice.
Since 2021 I have been working as an independent Specialist Physiotherapist and self-management coach, and I deliver sessions internationally remotely and face to face in central London at:
- Light Centre (London Bridge and Victoria)
- Coulsdon Foot Health and Physiotherapy clinic (Surrey)
My latest collaborations as a Pain Specialist Physiotherapist are with:
- The Pain Service UK (https://www.painservice.co.uk/)
- M.I.A.L. Clinic - London (https://mial.healthcare/)
Based on my professional journey, I now define myself as a body pain therapist as well as self-management coach and my practice as HSP and trauma-informed
Latest trainings 2022:
- Applied Polyvagal Theory in Therapeutic Yoga, Level 1-2
- Currently attending Integrative Somatic Trauma Therapy - Certificate Programme
My contributions to the media
From the website: The Highly Sensitive Refuge
The Link Between Being an HSP and Chronic Health Issues, According to Science