Tavistock Policy Series: The Consultant’s Act of Freedom: Isabel Menzies Lyth 60 years on

Event overview

Isabel Menzies-Lyth

With our leading mental health experts, our Centenary Tavistock Policy Seminar series provides an opportunity to explore our latest thinking and research into public policy issues. Through a dynamic group format, we explore topical issues related to mental health, wellbeing and human relationships.

Almost 60 years after Menzies Lyth’s (1961) seminal research, Tavistock Consulting were given rare access to work intensively over an extended period with nurses on the Acute Assessment Unit of a large London hospital which was struggling with poor retention. After observations and interviews on the ward, an unusual programme was developed combining work discussion groups, mindfulness and taught systems-psychodynamic concepts.      

It was met with negativity and resistance, and defensive structures and libidinal acting out abounded. A spontaneous stepping away from the consultant’s interpretative stance to a more relational one was a breakthrough moment and change seemed possible. Two years on, retention has dramatically improved and the programme recently won an award at the National Retention Awards. 

This seminar will invite the audience to explore, together with the Tavistock Consulting Team, what constitutes an ‘act of freedom’ (Symington, 1983) and how it differs from Menzies Lyth’s approach.


Kay Trainor and Jennie McShannon


18:30 - 20:30: Talk 


Tavistock Centre, 120 Belsize Lane, London, NW3 5BA


Free but booking is essential. Book your ticket on Eventbrite now.

The Tavistock Centre, London
12 March 2020 18:30 to 12 February 2020 20:30