Pioneering family therapist John Byng-Hall dies

20 July 2020

We are sad to announce the death of John Byng-Hall on Friday 17 July 2020 after his health had been failing for some time. He is survived by  his wife, Sue, and three sons.

John Byng-Hall

John Byng-Hall was a distinguished and pioneering family therapist who established systemic therapy at the Tavistock and Portman in the early 1970s. His publications and presentations earned him an international reputation as an original thinker.

Kenyan born John Byng-Hall joined the Tavistock Clinic in 1969, taking a position in the Adolescent Department, where in 1971 he was one of the founders of the Family Therapy Workshop. In 1975 he and Rosemary Whiffen established the first family therapy training in Britain, which later led to the establishment of the first ever doctorate in family therapy.

During his time at the Tavi John Byng-Hall was to see and support most of the developments in systemic therapy. Throughout the 70s and 80s John Byng-Hall collaborated with John Bowlby on his attachment research, introducing new techniques to systemic theory and developing the concept of the family as a secure base.

John Byng-Hall retired from the Tavistock and Portman in the autumn of 1997. Sebastian Kraemer said: “John Byng Hall was a remarkable pioneer. Together with Rosemary Whiffen he picked up the threads of family therapy in the Tavistock Clinic and created a great tapestry, with an international reputation, and many distinguished friends around the world. His original theoretical contributions are a lasting credit to the Tavistock's culture of innovation.”

An event to celebrate the life and work of John Byng-Hall is being planned for September 2020. For more information or to be involved contact Sarah Helps.

Read more about John Byng-Hall

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