Assessing risk: a relational approach

Course overview

This ten week course offers you an innovative framework for understanding the complex and subtle issues involved in assessing and managing the risk of violence and sexual offending. You may work in a variety of settings, including generic mental health services, social care, forensic mental health and the criminal justice system.

This is a ten-week CPD short course and over the ten weeks, you will examine:

  • Introduction: models of risk assessment. Accuracy and limitations of different types of risk assessment.
  • Key psychodynamic concepts in understanding symptoms, offending and enactment.
  • Psychodynamics of the relationship between offender and victim, and between practitioner and client.
  • Psychodynamic theories of violence.
  • The impact of childhood development on adult enactment and offending: developmental history, attachment and cycles of violence and abuse.
  • Psychodynamic theories of sexual offending and perversion. 
  • Borderline and psychotic states of mind. 
  • What can be learned?

Each session will include a lecture and work discussion group.

This course is delivered by the renowned Portman Clinic and will introduce you to models of risk assessment and examine the accuracy and limitations of them.  You will examine key psychodynamic concepts in understanding symptoms, offending and enactment and gain an understanding of the impact of childhood development on adult enactment and offending. You will also examine psychodynamic theories of sexual offending and perversion and borderline and psychotic states of mind.

This course is for you if you are a clinician or practitioner working in generic mental health services, social care, forensic mental health or the criminal justice system and come into contact with individuals who present a risk of harm to others. You may be a clinician or practitioner who assesses and manages risk of harm to self or others in individuals with severe psychopathology in secure and community settings.

Although there are no formal academic entry requirements, we ask that you have had some previous learning/experience in the basics of psychodynamic theory.

Typical Course Outline  

  • Introduction to the Course
  • Online Perversions
  • Violence and Psychopathy
  • Relational Approaches to Sexual Offending
  • Stalking: A Relational Approach
  • Counter-transference Issues in working with Mentally Disordered Offenders 
  • Relational Security in Forensic Institutions
  • Attachment Issues in Offender Populations
  • Violence and Sexual Deviation in Adolescence
  • Offending as a Psychodynamic Enactment
  • The Psychoanalytic Understanding of Female Offenders
  • Conclusion  

I came away from the Tavistock feeling like I have learned so much. Mar 18

Fascinating course with really informative lecturers. Difficult and challenging content presented so thoughtfully and skilfully. Dec 20

Really helpful thank you. So much to think about and reflect on. Dec 20

Dr Muzaffar Husain (Course Lead & Speaker) is a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist and a Psychoanalyst. He trained in forensic psychiatric settings across the secure estate in the UK. Alongside the Portman Clinic, he works in a regional secure service. He has wide ranging experience in providing expert evidence to criminal courts and parole board hearings in the context of mentally disordered offenders. He works as a medical psychotherapist undertaking individual and group treatment of violent and sexually deviant individuals. He is a member of the British Psychoanalytic Society.  

This course integrates a series of engaging, virtual lectures – covering a rich variety of topics, and delivered by a group of expert speakers, including:

Jessica Yakeley is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Forensic Psychotherapy and Director of the Portman Clinic, and Director of Medical Education, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. She is also a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society and Editor of the journal Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. She specializes in the psychotherapeutic treatment of people presenting with violent and sexual problems. She has published widely on topics including psychological therapies, medical education, violence, risk assessment, prison health, and antisocial personality disorder. She is Vice-Chair for the Royal College of Psychiatrists Psychotherapy Faculty and Research Lead for the British Psychoanalytic Council. She is currently leading the national development and implementation of community services for a multi-site randomised-controlled trial of mentalization-based treatment for antisocial personality disorder as part of the UK Government’s National Personality Disorder Offender Pathways Strategy.

Alla Rubitel is a Consultant Psychiatrist in forensic psychotherapy at the Portman clinic. She co-edited a book “Containment in the community” published by Karnac in The Portman Papers series. She also contributed chapters to the books in the field of forensic psychotherapy. She is the organiser and the chair of P1 CPD course at the Portman clinic.

Gabrielle Brown is Adult Psychotherapist at the Portman Clinic, where she also leads the Forensic Psychotherapy training (D59F). She is Consultant Psychotherapist in Reflective Practice in SLAM. Trained originally in social work, she has extensive experience of working in custodial and forensic settings and with homelessness. Her edited collection ‘Psychoanalytic Thinking on the Unhoused Mind’ was published by Routledge in 2019.

Stanley Ruszczynski is a Psychoanalyst and a senior Consultant Adult Psychotherapist at the Portman Clinic where he was Clinic Director between 2005-2016. In addition to his clinical, teaching and managerial activities, he has extensive experience of consulting to staff groups, and their managers, working in the criminal justice system, including prisons and the probation service, and in high security hospitals.

Graham Music has undertaken extensive trainings as both an adult and a child and adolescent psychotherapist. He works primarily with children and adolescents in the Portman clinic and adults elsewhere. At the Tavistock he teaches and supervises on the child psychotherapy and other psychological therapy courses. He also leads on training in child development, neuroscience and attachment theory, and has a particular interest in linking cutting-edge developmental findings with therapeutic practice. His current clinical work in the NHS is primarily with issues of post-maltreatment, trauma and forensic work at The Portman Clinic.

Ariel Nathanson (MA, MPsych) is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Portman Clinic where he specialises in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents and young adults who display perverse, delinquent and violent behaviours. Ariel works privately as an organisational consultant to therapeutic communities for highly disturbed children adolescents. He is also a clinical supervisor and consultant to other clinicians and front-line workers who engage violent young people in gangs and in prisons.

Tomasz Fortuna trained as a psychoanalyst at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in London. He is a member of the British Psychoanalytic Society and Hanna Segal institute for Psychoanalytic Studies. He has worked as a psychiatrist in the NHS for 12 years and currently works at the Portman Clinic with adults, children, and adolescents and is in private psychoanalytic practice. He teaches and supervises in the UK and abroad. His professional interests include the relationship between psychoanalysis and the arts and the understanding of severe emotional disturbances. He co-authored a book, Melanie Klein: the Basics, and is a guest editor of Empedocles: European Journal for Philosophy of Communication. 

This course will be delivered remotely using Zoom. This is very easy and safe to use regardless of your level of IT skill.
You will need a device with a microphone and camera together with a suitably fast internet connection. Although mobile devices and tablets can be used, we recommend the use of laptop or desktop PC for the best experience. Some devices provided by employers may have restrictions in place. Please use this test link ( to check your set up before booking.
Additional resources for this course will be provided using Moodle, our virtual learning environment.
You will be sent joining instructions including all the necessary login links, passwords and guidance on how to use the relevant functionality about a week before the course start date.
Should you have any concerns about the accessibility of remote delivery please contact us at to discuss how we can best help you.

The course consists of a two-hour weekly session over the ten weeks of the course. 

The current cohort has now closed. New dates will be advertised here in due course. Please contact us at to be added to the waiting list.

The current cohort has now closed. Please contact us at to be added to the waiting list

Included in your course fee, you will receive online membership of the Tavistock’s internationally-renowned library for the duration of your course.Our friendly and knowledgeable library team will help to support you through your specialist CPD course, whatever your level of professional or academic experience. You will have access to an extensive range of eBooks, online journals, all the relevant key databases and our specialist audio-visual collection, plus reference access to all our print books. Our Information Skills Trainer has made lots of material available on Moodle to help you navigate our comprehensive electronic collections. PCs and photocopiers are also available for your use (charges apply for printing and copying).Library staff curate various online resources, such as Audio/Video Playlists, and regularly share helpful news and research on Twitter and Facebook. Find out more on the Library website:

Certificate of attendance
Course length:
10 weeks
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