Reflective mental health practice today (D65)

Course overview

This programme will be of interest and value to those who are interested in developing understanding and experience in applying psychoanalytic concepts to their work with service users within a mental health care setting.

This course offers a foundation in developing a clinical understanding of direct experience with service users. It provides a theoretical framework for students to develop their knowledge of and capacity to apply psychoanalytic concepts in their work within mental health care. The aim of the course is to develop individuals’ understanding, awareness and reflective capacities, both of themselves in the work place and of the service users they will be working with.

This course aims to:

  • Support students in developing their dynamic understanding and experience of direct work with patients in a mental health setting
  • provide an understanding of human development, the impact of developmental and emotional difficulties in the context of social, economic and cultural circumstances and the relevance of this to mental health work
  • develop the capacity for more meaningful, accurate risk assessment
  • develop an appreciation of the therapeutic use of self in clinical practice
  • reflect on the importance of conscious and unconscious communications in the workplace
  • develop awareness of professional roles, relationships and clinical dilemmas in practice. 

Through a combination of applied theory seminars and work discussion groups you will develop an understanding of the underlying dynamics present in the complexities of the healthcare environment. This course will improve your understanding of clinical and institutional dynamics. At the heart of the course is the work discussion group which enables you to gain an understanding of the emotional challenges inherent in mental health work. This provides a valuable development opportunity for those with little clinical experience and offers a refreshing and stimulating approach for experienced mental health workers.

The seminars offer a synthesis of theoretical teaching with work discussion which enables you to reflect on how theory can be put into practice to improve patient care, maintain professional roles and relationships, improve risk assessment and develop a deeper understanding of patients’ experience.

Tutorials are offered throughout the course, enabling you to consider your work in depth and to discuss your professional development.

You will be taught by experienced, practicing clinicians within the applied theory seminars and supported in exploring your experiences and observations in a work discussion group, facilitated by the tutor. 

The course provides a solid foundation in developing skills and experience in working with mental health service users within both voluntary and statutory services. The course provides an opportunity to develop observational skills, both of one’s self in practice and also of the ‘other’, be it client, team or organisation. With an emphasis on applied psychoanalytic concepts, seminars will focus on applied therapeutic theory and the development of professional roles and relationships in mental health care, the foundations of psychotherapeutic work.

What our students say:

"The course has been an invaluable aid to my work."

"The course helped me be more empathic with my patients."

"The course put new life into my work." 

"The group was supportive and non-judgmental. I felt more confident in working with difficult patients."

There are two groups of people who would benefit from this programme:

  • People who are keen to undertake a psychotherapy training in the future, who may have completed an initial course and want to extend their experience of direct work with people in a mental health setting and seek to do this within a supportive structure
  • Mental health professionals (nurses, support workers, social workers, OTs) who are keen to explore psychodynamic perspectives, to develop their knowledge and enhance their understanding of interactions at work with mental health service users, colleagues and institutions. 

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you:
  • Demonstrate an interest in understanding a psychodynamic approach to the provision of mental health care and a willingness to explore your experience.
  • Are able to organise and undertake a volunteer role in mental health setting, if you are not already engaged in working within a mental health service. This ideally should be established by October when the course commences and can be discussed at interview.

Francesca BenjaminFrancesca Benjamin is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist. Francesca initially undertook an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology at the Anna Freud Centre, before later embarking on the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy training at the Tavistock and Portman.  She has a particular interest in the application of psychoanalytic ideas to those working with families and children in a range of frontline mental health roles, and in the implementation of psychotherapeutic work in schools and other educational provisions.


The course is part-time, taking place on Tuesday afternoons from 3 - 6pm during term time. Some reading and preparation will be required between sessions and there will be 24 sessions over the academic year.


The course does not include a requirement for formal assessment. In the final term (summer 2020) there will be an option to submit a written piece of work relating to the application of theory to clinical experience.

Whether or not you chose to complete the optional written assignments will not affect your being awarded the Tavistock Certificate at the end of the course.


£3040 per annum


£6080 per annum

We are happy offer a range of ways to pay your fees, as well as some funding for specific courses

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Trust Certificate
Course length:
1 year
Tuesday afternoons
The Tavistock Centre, London
Theoretical approach:
Admission status:
Course lead:
Francesca Benjamin

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