“For decades, the Tavistock’s work has helped shape how we see ourselves, as persons and as a society. Much thinking that has entered the mainstream emerged from its challenging, interdisciplinary research and practice”Hilary Mantel
History of the Tavistock and Portman
The Tavistock Clinic, or Tavi as it is more colloquially known, was founded on 27 September in 1920 by Hugh Crichton-Miller. In the beginning it was the home of a small band of seven doctors. In addition to Hugh Crichton-Miller, the Honorary Director, there was: Dr JA Hadfield, Dr Mary..Read More
The Tavistock Clinic saw its first patient, a child, on 27 September in 1920. The first patient was seen by Dr Hamilton Pearson on 27 September 1920 and this is where we take the date of our founding from. The second patient was an adult and was seen by Mary..Read More
During the 1920s the Tavistock Clinic grew. Speech Therapy and Social Work were added to the services provided by the Clinic and towards the end of the decade a hostel was opened for patients from outside London. Education and training at the Clinic grew at a considerable rate. In the..Read More
In 1929 the Tavistock Clinic acquired a nearby Bloomsbury house and opened a hostel for patients who lived too far for regular attendance. The hostel was under the medical supervision of EA Bennet and run by Muriel Payne.
In 1929 the London Child Guidance Training Centre (CGTC) obtained premises at the Tudor Lodge, 1 Canonbury Place, Islington and opened their clinic in July 1929 with Lady Lawrence as the president and Cyril Burt as the vice president. Dr. William Moodie was its first director and Lucy Fildes its..Read More
By the end of the 1920s the building on Tavistock Square was no longer big enough. JR Rees, who had been deputy director since 1926, established an extension fund, called the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology, to raise money for new premises and on 9 August 1929 it was formally..Read More
In 1930 the Tavistock Clinic changed its name to the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology. The name change was part of a strategy to move more into the field off education.
On 22nd July 1931 Grace Pailthorpe formed the Association for the Scientific Treatment of Criminals (ASTC), which subsequently became the Institute for the Scientific Treatment of Delinquency (ISTD). Along with Grace Pailthorpe the other founders of the ASTC were: Dr M. Hamblin-Smith, Dr David Eder, Dr Edward Glover, Dr James..Read More
When the ISTD was founded, a number of important and influential Vice-Presidents were recruited who could guarantee the status of the society and attract public attention. Early Vice-Presidents included: Professor Alfred Adler, Professor (later Sir) Cyril Burt, The Countess De la Warr, Havelock Ellis, Professor Sigmund Freud, Cardinal Griffin, Sir..Read More
In November 1932 the Tavistock Clinic moved into a new building on the corner of Torrington Place and Malet Place. It was positioned alongside the University of London and renamed the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology. The building had previously been the stables for a Tottenham Court Road department store,..Read More
In a meeting at Dr Jensen’s flat at 56 Grosvenor St, London on 29 November 1932 Dr Jennings White proposed that the name of the organisation be changed from the Association for the Scientific Treatment of Criminals (ASTC) to the Institute for the Scientific Treatment of Delinquency (ISTD), which went..Read More
The Portman Clinic was founded by Edward Glover in 1933 as the ‘Psychopathic Clinic’, with a consulting room n the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases at 73 Welbeck Street. On 18 September they saw their first patient: ‘a woman, 47 years of age, noted as having a violent temper,..Read More
In 1932 Wilfred Bion joined the Tavistock Clinic. He was part of a new generation of recruits at the Tavi. This cohort also included: Leonard Browne, HV Dicks, Mary Luff and Charles Berg. Several of these came under the influence of JA Hadfield, who at that time was responsible for..Read More
Samuel Beckett was Wilfred Bion’s first case at the Tavistock Clinic. The analysis, which began in 1934, was difficult, lasted for nearly two years and had a profound reciprocal influence on both men. Beckett had come to London for analysis, because it was illegal in Ireland at the time. He..Read More
In the mid-1930s the Tavistock Clinic started to gain limited University recognition for its non-medical courses. This was led by social work in particular and the courses with the London School of Economics.
Mary Luff undertook the first follow-up study assessing the results of treatment at the Tavistock Clinic three years after discharge. This pioneering survey seeking to provide an evidence base for the work of the clinic was published in the British Medical Journal on 13 July 1935. The figures showed that overall..Read More
In 1936 the Rockefeller Foundation and the Sir Halley Stewart Trust awarded research grants to the Tavistock Clinic. ATM Wilson became the Rockefeller Fellow and Eric Wittkower the Sir Halley Stewart Fellow. ATM Wilson studied the psychological and social aspects of peptic ulcers . Eric Wittkower collaborated with St Bart’s..Read More
In 1936, after six years of calling ourselves the Institute of Medical Psychology we reverted to our old name. The ‘Tavistock Clinic’ name had proved to have such popular common usage that it was futile to fight it. However, in recognition of JR Rees dream of the future, the sub-title..Read More
On 1 September 1939 Hitler’s tanks rolled into Poland and World War 2 began. JR Rees was appointed as consultant psychiatrist to the Army at Home, responsible for the mental health of approximately three million people. Many key figures from the Tavistock Clinic joined him in the army, becoming what..Read More
As with many organisations, the war years were a test of survival for the Tavistock Clinic. The story for those who did not join up was very different to those who did. The Tavistock Clinic was evacuated to the Westfield Women’s College in Hampstead on 3 September 1939 and during..Read More
In 1940 the Germans began an intense bombing campaign against industrial targets in Britain. On 7 September they changed their strategy and the Blitz came to London. The Tavi’s move to Hampstead justified itself as 51 Tavistock Square was reduced to pavement level. Then in the spring of 1941 the..Read More
Melanie Klein’s influence on British psychoanalysis had begun in the mid-1920s. British analysts who went to Berlin for analysis with Abraham or Sachs were the first to hear of her work with children . This included Edward Glover, his brother James and Ernest Jones. Jones was hesitant about her work..Read More
In 1944 Michael Balint joined the Tavistock Clinic. Balint was a Hungarian refugee who had fled the Nazis in 1935, moving to Manchester, where he was director of the Child Guidance Clinic. He was a key figure in setting up the Family Discussion Bureau (now Tavistock Relationships). He developed ‘focal..Read More
After the war a new Interim Medical Committee was elected by the whole of the staff with Wilfred Bion as Chair to take the Tavistock Clinic forward. Under Bion’s leadership ‘Operation Phoenix’ was put into action. Radical democratic processes were instituted in the way that the Clinic was run that..Read More
In 1946 John Bowlby joined the Tavistock Clinic. He was recruited from the army, where he had been one of the ‘invisible college’ under JR Rees command. Bowlby was appointed head of the Department for Children and Parents and Deputy Director of the Clinic.
The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) germinated as an idea in the period immediately after World War 2. It came into being in 1946. JR Rees suggested that the TIHR should be created as a separate department but as the Clinic prepared to join the NHS it became clear..Read More
On 28 October 1947 Tavistock Publications was launched with JD Sutherland, ATM Wilson and John Harvard Watts as the original Directors. It was staffed by TS Fairly, Frank Frost (general editor), and John Harvard Watts (promotion). Tavistock Publications took over the publication of the TIHR’s quarterly journal, Human Relations, and..Read More
On 5 July 1948 the Portman joined the NHS and changed its name from the Psychopathic Clinic to the Portman Clinic. The ISTD and the Portman became separate organisations, though they both remained at Bourdon Street and initially largely consisted of the same staff. The Portman Clinic came under the..Read More
In July 1948 the Tavistock Clinic entered the NHS, coming under the Central Middlesex Group Hospital Management Committee of the North-west Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. Joining the NHS exposed the Tavistock Clinic to a much larger and wider patient group. However, sacrifices had to be made as it was primarily..Read More
On 20 January 1949, the Prime Minister, Clement Atlee, announced to Parliament that the King had approved the setting up of a Royal Commission on Capital Punishment, under the Chairmanship of Sir Ernest Gowers. The Commission, comprising 10 men and two women, had 63 meetings over four years. It took..Read More
During the late 40s and 1950s the Tavistock Clinic produced some of its most influential work. Bion initially continued to work on group dynamics, before his analysis under Melanie Klein led him back to working with individuals and developing concepts such as ‘containment’. Bowlby gradually developed ‘Attachment Theory’. This was..Read More
In 1954 in Britain institutionalisation was still the main method for dealing with mental illness. There were 154,000 patients in asylums, which were overcrowded and underfunded. These contained 40 per cent of the NHS inpatient beds, but received only 20 per cent of the hospital budget. The second half of..Read More
In August 1954 the Government set up the Wolfenden Committee, named after its chairman, John Wolfenden. Its report was published 5 September 1957 and recommended that homosexual acts between two consenting adults should no longer be a criminal offence. Edward Glover and Denis Carroll presented to the committee on behalf..Read More
In 1956 the Family Discussion Bureau transferred from the Family Welfare Association to the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations.
In 1957, the Tavistock Institute launched its first full scale experiment in group relations in partnership with the University of Leicester. Leicester conferences continue to this day and are replicated all over the world, including several times a year within the Tavistock and Portman. The original concept of the Leicester Conference..Read More
In 1959, a pilot Adolescent Unit was created, led by Derek Miller and Dugmore Hunter, and in 1960, this became the Adolescent Department which was situated on one floor of a leased building at Hallam Street and was run with the part-time loan of staff from other departments. Originally the..Read More
In 1960 the Tavistock Clinic was visited by Enoch Powell, the then Health Minister, who was impressed by what he saw. The Tavistock Clinic provided a model of non-hospital based care and high quality services integrated multi-disciplinary teams. Not long after, the plans for the Tavistock Clinic’s new building were..Read More
The Portman Clinic organised a two day conference on the pathology and treatment of sexual deviation as part of World Mental Health Year 1961. The papers were collected and published as ‘The Pathology and Treatment of Sexual Deviation’ in 1964, and then republished in 1979 with additional material from Glasser..Read More
The Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) is one of the oldest and largest trans treatment centres in the world. It was founded in 1966 by Dr John Bulmer Randell (1918 to 1982) at Charing Cross Hospital, which at that time was still in the West End. It joined the Tavistock and..Read More
In 1965 the foundation stone of the new building at Belsize Lane was laid by JR Rees and on 4 May 1967 it was opened by Princess Marina. The Tavistock Clinic (including the new Adolescent Department, which merged with the Young People’s Consultation Centre in Hampstead), the TIHR (which included..Read More
After overseeing the move to the new premises JD Sutherland also resigned in 1968, to take up a teaching appointment at the University of Edinburgh. On 1 August 1968, Robert H. Gosling took charge of the Tavistock Clinic under the new title of Chairman of the Professional Committee after winning..Read More
In 1969, the year of the first moon landing, further administrative changes took place within the NHS and the Tavistock Clinic came under the St Charles Hospital Management Committee. Under Robert Gosling’s leadership the Tavistock Clinic flourished once again and went through another period of significant expansion. Throughout his career..Read More
Although Bowlby had retired from the Tavistock Clinic, this gave him more time to write and he went on to publish his definitional trilogy on attachment: Attachment (1969), Separation (1973) and Loss (1980). These were hugely influential and brought global attention to what the Tavistock Clinic was doing. Bowlby’s work on attachment remains absolutely foundational..Read More
During the 1970s the Department for Children and Parents flourished. Martha Harris also wanted to see the influence of the Tavistock extended. In the mid-70s, believing that child development information should be more widely available for professionals working with children, she initiated the publication of the hugely successful ‘Understanding Your..Read More
Also in the early-1970s, Chris Dare and John Byng-Hall, who had both trained at the Tavistock, in child and adolescent psychiatry, began to develop Systemic Family Therapy. John Byng-Hall initially organised a Family Therapy Workshop in the Adolescent Department and a research group. They invited people from the US to..Read More
In 1976, Emanuel Lewis published ‘The Management of Stillbirth: Coping with an Unreality’. Working from 1968 to the 1990s Lewis and Stanford (Sandy) Bourne highlighted the trauma of stillbirth and its wider impact on families. The disposal of stillborn foetuses, without contact with the parents, remained routine practice until the..Read More
In 1979, Robert Gosling retired from the leadership of the Tavistock Clinic, due to his increasing deafness. Alexis Brook took over as Chair of the Professional Committee. Alexis Brook had served under JR Rees in the Royal Army Medical Corps from 1944 to 1947. He trained in psychiatry at the..Read More
At the heart of Glasser’s (1979) concept of the core complex is a universal developmental step which deals with a child’s anxieties of abandonment and engulfment during early separation and individuation from their mother. Faced with this the individual either withdraws, experiencing tremendous isolation and feelings of abandonment, or reacts..Read More
At the start of the 1980s, the newly elected Conservative government had come to power with a mandate to reduce public spending. This cut across all areas of public services and the NHS was not exempt. It was against this background that following the Griffiths Report in 1983 the NHS..Read More
In the mid-1980s the Child Guidance Training Centre (CGTC) , which had been sharing premises with the Tavistock Clinic at Belsize Lane, had its funding cut. The decision was taken to merge the CGTC with the Department for Children and Parents at the Tavistock Clinic and between 1984 and 1985..Read More
Gloucester House, or the Day Unit, as it was known at that time under joined the Tavistock Clinic in 1985. It entered as part when the Child Guidance Training Clinic merged with the Tavistock’s Children’s Department to form the Child and Family Department. More on Gloucester House
Alexis Brook stepped down in 1985 and Anton Obholzer took up the leadership of the Tavistock Clinic. A South-African by birth, with Austrian lineage, Anton Obholzer is the only Chief Executive to have worked in every department of the Tavistock Clinic. Working closely together, Rob Hale and Anton Obholzer began..Read More
The Seymour Report had stated that although many of the courses at the Tavistock Clinic had professional recognition, training at the Tavistock Clinic also needed academic accreditation. A suitable academic partner had to be found and approaches were made to the University of East London (UEL). The timing was good..Read More
Following the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987, two members of the Adult Department went to Dover to offer backup support. This was the first stage in the formation of the Unit for the Study of Trauma and its Aftermath. Eighteen months later a Trauma Unit led..Read More
In 1988, Estela Welldon published ‘Mother, Madonna, Whore’ the first book on perversions in women. This seminal work challenged the accepted wisdom that women did not suffer from perversions. Her original ideas sent shockwaves through the psychoanalytic community and the feminist theorist circles of the time.
The Gender Identity Disorder Unit was founded in 1989 at the Department of Child Psychiatry at St Georges Hospital St George’s by Domenico Di Ceglie, of the Tavistock’s Adolescent Department, to offer support to young people experiencing distress about their gender identity. In 1994, GIDS moved to the Tavistock and..Read More
In 1992 Valerie Sinason published Mental Handicap and the Human Condition, new approaches from the Tavistock Clinic. This work was very much rooted in the Trust’s strong history of working with developmental issues in child education services and by the 1990s the Trust were a leader in the field. By the..Read More
At the same time as the Tavistock and Portman became an NHS trust, a national training contract was awarded to it. Margaret Rustin, who had become Dean in 1994, worked with UEL to develop five doctorate courses (which also functioned as research degrees). At one stage there were more than..Read More
In 1988, Margaret Thatcher announced a significant review of the NHS as a whole and from this two white papers were published that outlined the introduction of an ‘internal market’ that introduced competition into the NHS and proposed a split between purchasers and providers of care that continues to this..Read More
In 1994, Anton Obholzer supported Jon Stokes to set up Tavistock Consulting. The aim was to bring together psychoanalysis and an understanding organisations from a systemic point of view to develop an individual coaching and consulting service for organisations and leaders. The original organisation was created by Jon Stokes with..Read More
In 1999, Anton Obholzer’s continuing emphasis on promoting the good work of the clinic to the media bore fruit with the BBC’s six-part series, The Talking Cure, coinciding with the publication of a book of the same name. Although many at the Trust were concerned about the impact of media attention,..Read More
In 2000 Laverne Antrobus joined the staff of Gloucester House, becoming the first black clinician at the Tavistock and Portman. Laverne originally trained at the Tavistock and Portman and since joining she has become a key member of the Children, Young Adults and Families Directorate. Outside of her role at..Read More
In the early years of the new century, equalities became a bigger issue at the Trust. Although equalities legislation had been put into place with the Race Relations Acts of 1965, 1968 and 1975, following the death of Stephen Lawrence, the 1999 Macpherson Enquiry found strong evidence of continuing institutional..Read More
In 2001, a Centre for Mental Health in Nursing was set up jointly with Middlesex University to provide new training programmes in nursing.
In response to a call for research, in 2001 Phil Richardson and his team began work on the important and influential Tavistock Adult Depression Study. This long-term study was taken over by David Taylor in 2007 after Phil Richardson’s death. Felicitas Rost is currently the lead researcher. In 2015 it..Read More
As part of the national training contract with the NHS the Tavistock Clinic needed to evidence that they were changing the national pattern of training and set about developing regional centres. In 2002 The Northern School of Child Psychotherapy was established in Leeds and a course was developed in Birmingham.
In 2002, Anton Obholzer retired after playing a crucial role while at the helm of the Trust. He was succeeded by Nick Temple. Nick Temple had been a consultant at the Tavistock Clinic since 1989, with Margot Waddell. he had been a founder and joint editor of the Tavistock Clinic..Read More
In 2002 Nick Temple became the Chief Executive of the Tavistock and Portman after Anton Obholzer stepped down. Nick steered the Tavistock and Portman through the process of becoming an NHS foundation trust. This ensured that the Trust secured further independence. He also oversaw significant growth in education and training.
In 2003, systemic therapy was recognised as one of the Trust’s six core disciplines, with systemic therapy having been in existence and running courses at the Trust since the 1970s and having established the first ever doctorate in systemic family therapy, in partnership with UEL in the 1980s.
In 2004, the Institute of Marital Studies expanded by taking over some of the functions of London Marriage Guidance and enlarging its range of services beyond marriage to include couples. In recognition of this, it changed its name to the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships (TCCR). It had already separated..Read More
The Tavistock and Portman becomes Camden’s main provider of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)
In 2005, the Tavistock and Portman became the main provider of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) for Camden, although we had been providing many aspects of CAMHS services and work in schools in Camden for several decades. Our MALT (Multi Agency Liaison Team), led by Rita Harris and..Read More
In 2002, Health Secretary Alan Milburn introduced the idea of foundation trusts, with the first ten announced in 2004. Foundation trusts provided more managerial and financial freedom than NHS trusts. They represented a significant change in the way in which hospital services are managed and provided in the NHS. The..Read More
Matthew Patrick was the Chief Executive of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust from 2007 to 2013. He originally joined the Tavistock Clinic in 1990 as a senior registrar and spent a significant portion of his career as a consultant psychiatrist in the Adult Department, spending 24 years in..Read More
In 2007, Matthew Patrick succeeded Nick Temple, when he retired as Chief Executive. Matthew Patrick had trained as an adult psychiatrist at the Maudsley and Bethlem Royal Hospitals and in psychotherapy in the adult department at the Tavistock. For many years he combined clinical work and developmental research at UCL...Read More
A new service, the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) , was established by the Tavistock and Portman in 2008 to help parents stop using drugs or alcohol and keep families together. Instead of the usual care proceedings, a family chosen for the FDAC programme goes through a very different..Read More
In 2009 the Tavistock and Portman founded the City and Hackney primary care psychotherapy consultation service (PCPCS) to help GPs manage patients with complex needs. The PCPCS was initially located in the ground floor annexe of Shoreditch Health Centre and its founders included: Phil Stokoe, Louise Lyon, Rob Senior and..Read More
In 2009, following further expansion, the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationship moved to new premises in central London and expanded to a second site in Liverpool Street.
Between 2013 and 2020 the Family Nurse Partnership National Unit joined the Tavistock and Portman, leading the delivery of a national home visiting programme for first time mums. In the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) programme, specially trained family nurses visit young mums regularly at home, from early in pregnancy until..Read More
In December 2013, Paul Jenkins became the new Chief Executive of the Tavistock and Portman, succeeding Matthew Patrick. Paul Jenkins had a significant public sector career. He was awarded an OBE in 2002 for his role in setting up NHS Direct. Paul had then worked in the third sector as..Read More
Following on from the work of the Trust’s CAMHS and MALT (Multi Agency Liaison Team) teams, we refined our systemic approach to emotional well-being services for young people and linked up with the Anna Freud Centre to develop a whole system approach that became the THRIVE model, launched in 2014...Read More