Professor Derek Bolton


Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist | Professor

Professor Derek Bolton is an Honorary Clinical Psychologist in the Trust’s Child and Adolescent Anxiety Service and a Professor of Philosophy and Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

He is Director of national and specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) for the Trust’s Anxiety Clinic, which has developed, enhanced and evaluated psychological therapies for children and young people suffering from distressing and impairing anxiety problems.

Other roles

He is a Clinical Researcher with the National Institute for Health Research’s (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health. He also researches philosophical issues in psychiatry, and is a senior faculty member of the new Centre for Humanities and Health at King’s College London, a facility funded by the Wellcome Trust.


Professor Bolton was awarded a first classification in Moral Sciences at Cambridge and followed this with doctoral research.

He read undergraduate psychology at University College London and trained as a Clinical Psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry, joining the faculty in 1979. His clinical work was completed at the Maudsley Hospital.

Recent national and international work includes:

2010: Lecture on ‘Defining the disorder in mental disorder’. Conference on Autonomy and Mental Health at The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) and Philosophy Department at Cambridge University.

2010: Lecture on ‘Definition of mental disorder and classifying by etiology’. Conference on ‘Brain and Self. Psychiatric Nosology: Definitions, History and Validity’ at the Danish National Research Foundation’s Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen. Convened Josef Parnas and Ken Kendler.

2009: Lecture and workshop on ‘Paediatric OCD: causes and psychological treatment’ at the University Clinic, Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen.

2009: Lecture on ‘Paediatric OCD: causes and psychological treatment’. Annual Joint Meeting of ACPP/BABCP.


His clinical research has mainly focused on paediatric obsessive compulsive disorder. Studies include behavioural genetic phenotyping of childhood obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in relation to anxiety and tics and to normative childhood repetitive routines. This work incorporated two treatment trials, one involving exposure with response-prevention and another using a cognitive model and therapy methods.

More recent clinical research includes psychological treatment trials for paediatric generalised anxiety disorder, including a qualitative study of young peoples’ experience of therapy.


Bolton D. and Hill J. (2004) Mind, Meaning, and Mental Disorder: The Nature of Causal Explanation in Psychology and Psychiatry. Second edition. Oxford University Press.

Bolton, D. (2004) Values in the definition of mental disorder. Psychiatry, 3, 2-4.

Bolton, D. (2004) Shifts in the philosophical foundations of psychiatry since Jaspers: implications for psychopathology and psychotherapy. International Review of Psychiatry, 16, 1-6.

Bolton, D. (2004). Cognitive behaviour therapy for children and adolescents: some theoretical and developmental issues. In Graham, P. (Ed.) Cognitive-Behaviour therapy for Children and Families. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press.

Bolton, D. (2005) La connaissance en sciences humaines. Annales médico-psychologiques, 163, 740-744

Bolton, D. (2006). What’s the problem? A response to “secular humanism and scientific psychiatry” Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine. Philosophy, Ethic, and Humanities in Medicine 2006, 1:6. Reprinted in Science and Ethics ed.Paul Kurtz, 204-207; NY: Prometheus Books, 2007.

Bolton, D.; Eley, T.; O’Connor, T.; Perrin, S; Rabe-Hesketh, S; Rijsdijk, F.; Smith, P. (2006) Prevalence and genetic and environmental influences on anxiety disorders in 6-year-old twins. Psychological Medicine, 36; 335-344.

Bolton, D.; Rijsdijk, F.; O’Connor, T.; Perrin, S; Eley, T. (2007) Obsessive compulsive disorder, tics and anxiety in 6-year-old twins. Psychological Medicine, 37, 39-48.

Bolton D, Perrin, S. (2008) Evaluation of exposure with response-prevention for obsessive compulsive disorder in children and adolescents. Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 39, 11-22.

Bolton, D. (2007) The usefulness of Wakefield’s definition of mental disorder for the diagnostic manuals. World Psychiatry 6: 3, 165-66.

Bolton D. (2008). What is mental disorder? An essay in philosophy, science and values. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bolton, D. (2008). The epistemology of RCTs and application in psychiatry. Philosophy, Psychology and Psychiatry 15 (2), 159-165.

Bolton, D. (2009). What is mental disorder? Psychiatry, 8, 468-70.

Bolton, D. (2009). Disorder. In the Oxford Companion to Emotion and the Affective Sciences, Edited David Sander and Klaus Scherer, Oxford University Press, pp.123-24.

Eley, T. C., Rijsdijk, F. V., Perrin, S., O’Connor, T. G., & Bolton, D. A Multivariate Genetic Analysis of Specific Phobia, Separation Anxiety and Social Phobia in Early Childhood. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, (2009). Online early DOI: 10.1007/s10802-008-9216-x.

Bolton D, Rijsdijk F, Eley T, O’Connor T, Perrin S (2009). Obsessive compulsion and related normative behaviors in 6-year-old twins. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50:9, pp 1139–1146, online early doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2009.02094.x

Stein DJ, Phillips KA, Bolton D, Fulford KWM, Sadler J Z., Kendler KS. (2009) What is a Mental/Psychiatric Disorder? From DSM-IV to DSM-V. Psychological Medicine. 40, 1–7. Early online doi:10.1017/S0033291709992261

Bolton, D. (in press) Social, biological and personal constructions of mental illness, in Principles of Social Psychiatry (2e), D.Bughra and C.Morgan (eds). Wiley.

Bolton, D. (in press). Commentary on Fulford & Sadler’s “Mapping the Logical Geography of Delusion and Spiritual Experience”. In Religious and Spiritual Issues in Psychiatric Diagnosis: A Research Agenda for DSM-V. Edited by John Raymond Peteet, M.D., Francis Lu, M.D., and William E. Narrow, M.D., MPH. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association.

Bolton, D. (in press). Conceptualisation of mental disorder and its personal meanings. Journal of Mental Health.

Bolton, D. Salkovskis, PM, et al. (in preparation) Controlled evaluation of cognitive-behaviour therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents: comparison of standard, therapist-intensive therapy versus brief therapy.

Payne, S., Bolton, D., Perrin S. (in preparation) Cognitive Therapy for Generalized Anxiety in Youth: a case series.

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