Keeping Staff in Mind: The Psychoanalytic Contribution to Mental Health Work

On Friday 8 June 2018, The Cassel Hospital, West London Mental Health Trust, in association with the Institute of Psychoanalysis and Routledge Books, will host a one-day symposium on the challenges facing mental health staff today. 


This symposium follows the publication of a book, Psychoanalysis, the NHS, and Mental Health Work Today, edited by Alison Vaspe (Karnac 2017). The book gave particular weight to the need for dedicated spaces in which staff can make sense of their experiences at work, in settings ranging from primary care and outpatient psychotherapy to in-patient and secure forensic units.

Although rewarding, working with vulnerable people is difficult, psychologically challenging, and can be disturbing and disappointing. For staff to be able to work effectively, psychoanalytically informed contributions including clinical and managerial supervision; Balint and reflective practice groups; organisational consultancy; and where appropriate psychoanalytically informed therapy, are all essential.

Through presentations and group discussion, we will explore how, without such psychoanalytic underpinning to the work, some staff will become caught up in problematic organisational dynamics, such as “splitting”, or they will become unwell, thick-skinned, and at worst actively abusive to those who need them.

Target audience:

  • GPs, mental health nurses and care workers, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, IAPT workers
  • Clinical managers, commissioners, researchers
  • Occupational Health and Human Resources
  • Those involved in supervising and training, individually or in Balint, reflective practice, and other groups
  • Organisational consultants.

Tickets: £95 (including lunch) available from Eventbrite, under Staff in Mind: venue Richmond, Surrey.

Enquiries: please contact the Event Administrator:


Tim Dartington PhD is a social scientist and writer on health and social care. He has worked with both the Tavistock Institute and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust as a researcher and lecturer on the system psychodynamic characteristics of groups and organisations. He is a past director of the Leicester Conference on authority and leadership in organisations. He is a member of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisation and the Organisation for Promoting Understanding of Society; he is also a trustee of the Gordon Lawrence Foundation for Social Dreaming.

Dr Turlough Mills MBChB. MRCPsych. DPhil. MA Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is the consultant psychiatrist for Little Woodhouse Hall, NHS psychiatric inpatient unit for adolescents in Leeds. He is an accredited Balint group leader and has an interest in reflective practice for teams managing complex disturbance. His interests include the application of psychoanalytic thinking to psychiatric practice and disorders of personality development in adolescence.

Emma Sutcliffe RMN is a mental health nurse with over ten years’ experience working in CAMHS on an in-patient unit. In 2016 she took a year out to complete the CYP-IAPT post-graduate course specialising in CBT, after which she returned to Little Woodhouse Hall, an NHS psychiatric in-patient unit for adolescents in Leeds, where she was appointed ward manager in September 2017

Alison Vaspe is a psychoanalyst and psychoanalytic psychotherapist. She has worked therapeutically in the public sector, including primary care and hospital settings, with general medical staff and students at Guy’s & St Thomas’s Hospital Trust and, most recently with mental health staff experiencing psychological and emotional difficulties in the workplace. She is contributing editor of Psychoanalysis, the NHS, and Mental Health Work Today, a volume in the Psychoanalytic Ideas series, edited by James Rose.


Dr Oliver Dale is a consultant psychiatrist and Jungian Analyst. He works at West London Mental Health Trust where he is a consultant psychiatrist in the Hammersmith and Fulham Personality Disorder service. He is also the Clinical Lead for the Cassel Hospital and Personality Disorder Pathway. He is an executive member of the British Irish group for the Study of Personality Disorders and is active in researching and developing services for those affected by personality disorder.

Lesley Day is a psychotherapist and a reflective practice and organisational consultant. She was Head of Service at the Cassel Hospital from 2003 to 2013, and before that was the Cassel Head of Training & Consultancy Service. She taught the social sciences at Brunel University, and has published in the fields of social policy and personality disorder.

Louise Lyon is a consultant clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. She has worked at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust for over 20 years. She joined as a clinician in the Adolescent Department and has since held a number of roles including Clinical Director of the Adolescent Department and Trust-wide Head of Psychology. In 2008 she joined the Board of Directors when appointed Trust Director and later took on her current role, Director of Quality and Patient Experience. She believes that staff wellbeing is central to both quality of care and good patient experience and therefore attending to staff wellbeing is crucial in her role. She is a member of the joint New Savoy Partnership and British Psychological Society Collaborative Learning Network on staff wellbeing.

Christopher Scanlon DPhil has a background as a consultant psychotherapist in general adult and forensic mental health and an organisational consultant. He is a training group analyst at the Institute of Group Analysis (London), and Senior Professional Associate at the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations (TIHR). He is a Founder member of the Association for Psychosocial Studies, an associate of OPUS, and has published widely in the field.

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Event Details

Friday 8 June, 2018 10.00-4.30

The Cassel Hospital, Ham Common, Richmond, TW10 7JF


Click here to view the conference schedule.

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