Portman clinic

Offers specialist long-term help for children, young people and adults with disturbing sexual behaviours, criminality and violence.

The Portman clinic offers specialist long-term psychoanalytically informed psychotherapeutic help to people who suffer from problems arising from:

  • delinquent behaviour
  • criminal behaviour
  • violent behaviour
  • paraphilias (disturbing and damaging sexual behaviours or experiences).

We are here to provide services for people who may be excluded or rejected by other services because of their past or present behaviours.

We aim to treat patients in a respectful and sensitive way, whatever their history.

Assessment and treatment

We aim to offer patients a first appointment for assessment within 11 weeks of the referral being clinically accepted by us.


Where the referred patient is a child or young person the assessment process usually involves working with all or some of the family members, or the child’s carers. The active support of family or carers is often essential to effective assessment and treatment. All under-18s who attend the Portman clinic must be accompanied by a responsible carer or parent on the way to and at the clinic as well as on leaving the clinic.

If appropriate, children are offered individual child psychotherapy sessions and the child’s parents or carers are seen periodically as necessary.


We first conduct an assessment, which may require several meetings. This is an exploratory discussion of the patient’s concerns and difficulties in the context of their history. The assessment process is often helpful in its own right.

At the end of the assessment we discuss with the patient what treatment may be appropriate. This could be:

On some occasions, after further assessments involving the referred patient's partner, we may offer couples therapy (see the section below).

After the assessment process, with the patient’s consent, we inform the referrer of the outcome.

Individual and couple psychotherapy involves weekly sessions, although we may sometimes offer sessions on a less or more frequent basis, depending on the patient’s need and the availability of treatment vacancies. Group therapy sessions are weekly and we recommended that patients are able to commit themselves to a minimum of two years of weekly attendance during term times.

We also offer a mentalisation-based treatment programme for men with a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder who want help for managing their aggressive behaviour. The treatment comprises both group and individual sessions. 

In accordance with NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines for the treatment of the individuals we see here, we usually offer longer-term treatment than most other services. Patients with a forensic history (people who have a mental health problem who have been arrested, are on remand or have been to court and found guilty of a crime) and those suffering with personality disorders and paraphilias (problems controlling specific sexual impulses) often need longer-term engagement and our treatment may be offered as open-ended.


Couples are sometimes referred and seen for an assessment. Some couples may be offered regular couples therapy, or we may offer one member of the couple individual psychotherapy or group therapy, whichever is considered to be most appropriate.


Our staff are trained as psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic/psychodynamic psychotherapists and/or child and adolescent psychotherapists with backgrounds in nursing, psychiatry, psychology, and social/probation work. They have all had further training in psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy with adults and/or children and are registered members of the BPC or the ACP.

The Portman Clinic saw its first patient in 1933 and since then has developed particular expertise in this area, having seen over 20,000 individuals for assessment or treatment since its foundation.

National service, with clinic in London

Children, young people and adults who suffer from problems arising from: 

  • delinquent behaviour
  • criminal behaviour
  • violent behaviour
  • disturbing and damaging sexual behaviours or experiences (paraphilias) 

If you feel you would benefit from our service, speak to your GP or other appropriate professional about a referral to us. Your GP may suggest this service to you if you experience any of the difficulties mentioned above.

This is a national service. Referrals can be made to us from any part of England.

Portman Clinic referral form (docx)

Portman Clinic referrers guide (pdf)

Electronic referrals

Please be aware that GP practices are now able to refer to a Referral Assessment Service (RAS) via the Electronic Referral Service.

Service Name: Portman Clinic - Tavistock & Portman NHSFT

Priority: Routine

Specialty: Mental Health - Adults of all ages

Clinic Type: Not Otherwise Specified

Organisation of Site Name field: Tavistock And Portman NHS Foundation Trust

General Enquiries

020 7794 8262


8 Fitzjohn’s Avenue, London NW3 5NA

Referral Enquiries

020 8938 2602


8 Fitzjohn’s Avenue, London NW3 5NA