Trauma service

Our service has special expertise to help people in the aftermath of trauma.

COVID-19 UPDATE: The Tavistock Trauma Service remains open for referrals and we are working to adapt our therapeutic approach in the current crisis. We are working remotely by telephone and sometimes Zoom with both individuals and some groups. For more information, visit our COVID-19 section. 

Trauma may come in many different forms. It may be a single episode of trauma such as an assault, a road traffic accident, a natural disaster or the loss of a loved one by murder or suicide. 

People such as war veterans, asylum seekers and refugees, or victims of domestic violence may suffer multiple episodes of trauma over a period of time.

Many of the patients we treat have experienced traumatic events in childhood including sexual or physical abuse that continue to have a significant effect upon their lives.

Who we see

Some trauma services require patients to have a certain number or type of symptoms in order to be seen. We consider anyone who feels trauma is something that causes them significant distress or interferes with their relationships or daily living.

Usually, the patients we see find that something has become ‘stuck’ around the trauma and they find it hard to move forward. They may experience flashbacks, nightmares, feel significantly depressed or numb, or struggle with anxiety.

Assessment and treatment

We usually offer an extended consultation over four sessions to understand the nature and impact of the trauma, using a trauma-informed psychoanalytic approach. We also explore the most suitable approach to treatment

Following the consultation we may offer: 

  • A trauma psychoeducation group – usually six weeks in length
  • Specialist trauma groups including a women’s group, a trauma art therapy group, a trauma- mentalisation-based therapy group or a trauma yoga group
  • Psychoanalytic psychotherapy – usually beginning at fortnightly intervals, and up to once weekly
  • Treatment in our generic or Fitzjohn's unit

We usually treat individuals, but occasionally see couples and families who have suffered traumatic events. 

In addition to using a psychoanalytic approach, we sometimes make use of other trauma-focused interventions. This will generally be in the context of an on-going therapy, however, these techniques (especially in complex PTSD) require a period of stabilization and secure establishing of a therapeutic relationship, and can destabilize some individuals if used alone.

We have a Service User Panel Group which meets regularly to help inform the service and to develop better service user involvement over time.

Team

We are a specialist team of mental health professionals.

Our senior staff are psychoanalytically trained and trauma-informed in their practice. Many staff are also trained in a variety of other modalities suitable for trauma work including trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Narrative Exposure Therapy, and so on.

Our trainees are experienced and senior clinicians from a variety of backgrounds including psychiatry, psychology, social work and psychotherapy.

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