Understanding trauma: principles and practice (D18)

Course overview

This course offers a supportive and lively setting in which to gain a deeper understanding of the impact on the mind of traumatic events as understood within a psychoanalytic framework. You will develop an awareness of the contribution psychoanalytic ideas can make to therapeutic work with traumatised individuals and groups.  

Want to hear more? Join this course information session at our virtual open day on Saturday 25 June. Book your place using our booking form here.

Over the year, you will study the following:

Work discussion group

You will have the opportunity to bring your work with particular traumatised individuals or groups to a small work discussion group, taken by an experienced psychotherapist. You will be required to bring case material for discussion once or twice termly.

Theory seminar/lecture

Through reading, discussion and lectures you will study a psychoanalytic approach to the consequences of traumatic events. Over three terms lectures and discussions cover: 

  • historical review and current psychoanalytic theories including the Tavistock model
  • psychoanalytic concepts and their relevance to trauma
  • treatment modalities and specialist areas.

Experiential group

An opportunity to learn about a psychoanalytic approach through your own experiences in the group.   The group allows you, amongst other things, to have the opportunity to talk with fellow students about the impact of the group, the course, and the counter-transference issues raised by work in this area.

Application group

This takes place twice during the course of the year. The group is facilitated, and will help you make a bridge between your learning on the course and your own work settings and practices.

The course will provide you with the opportunity to study with others who are experienced in working with trauma.  It will help you to develop a deeper capacity to reflect on your working practice and the impact of working with traumatised individuals and groups.  You will increase your understanding of the principles and practice of a psychoanalytic approach to trauma, and the place of psychoanalytic thinking in relation to other models e.g. trauma focused CBT and EMDR.  

You will gain a deeper understanding of the impact on the mind of traumatic events, as understood within a psychoanalytic framework and develop a greater awareness of the contribution psychoanalytic ideas can make to therapeutic work with traumatised individuals and groups.

Learning about a psychoanalytic approach to thinking about trauma will develop your understanding of the longer term and relational consequences of traumatic experiences, whether you are working within a psychoanalytic framework already, or using cognitive behavioural therapy, EMDR, or a range of models of intervention.   It can also help if you are working with individuals who have not substantially benefitted  from CBT or EMDR, or if you want to enhance your understanding of a psychoanalytic approach to working with trauma, whatever model you are currently working with.  It can also help you to develop your understanding of the potentially powerful impact of the work on professionals working with trauma, including yourself.

What our students say

“Being guided by such a well tried model of the mind was beneficial in my daily psychiatric practice. Having in mind the psychoanalytic model of trauma significantly lessens my anxiety and distress when in contact with severely traumatized patients.”

"Now I know why the Tavistock has such a good reputation. A fantastic course."

This course is for you if you are a professional working with the psychological aftermath of trauma in either a generic or specialist mental health or related setting.  You may, for example, be a clinical psychologist, a counsellor, or a psychotherapist.   Specialist settings can include the police, emergency services, refugees and asylum seekers, for example.

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you:

  • are a professional working with people who have experienced trauma.


Thursday afternoons from 2pm to 6.15pm.


The course is not a qualifying course; it is part of the Tavistock’s continuing professional development portfolio.  A Tavistock certificate for the course is available to those with 80% attendance who also complete an optional 4,000 word essay related to the theory and practice of a psychoanalytic approach to trauma.

Louise is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist with over 15 years of experience working in number of different trauma-focused settings with children, parents, families and young adults. Her current clinical role is based within UCLH, an acute medical trust where she is the Head of Child Psychotherapy. As well as leading a variety of psychotherapy services across the Trust, Louise is passionate about supporting colleagues with the emotional complexities of acute medical care and she and the psychotherapy team deliver a number of work discussion and reflective practice groups to a variety of clinical teams. 

Louise has taught on many Tavistock and Portman courses courses since 2008 and has a deep interest in developmental trauma and its impact and psychoanalytic theory and its applications. She currently leads the Understanding Trauma (D18) course, facilitates the trauma workshop for doctoral trainees in child and adolescent psychotherapy and co-runs the trust-wide trauma forum with Jo Stubley.


£ 3,675 per year


£ 7,350 per year

For more information about how Brexit may affect your fee status, please see Brexit information for EU & EEA and Swiss Nationals

Please note that course fees are subject to a 3% or CPI uplift each year, whichever is greater.

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

Trust Certificate
Course length:
1 year
Thursday afternoons
The Tavistock Centre, London
Adults and children
Theoretical approach:
Admission status:
Course lead:
Dr Louise Allnutt

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