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 the 20th century saw a fundamental shift in the way people with mental health problems were cared for.

In 1956, administration of the Tavistock Clinic shifted to the Paddington Group Hospital Management Committee, which already administered the Portman Clinic and the Child Guidance Training Centre. Plans for the future development of a new building at Belsize Lane were successfully submitted.

Working within the NHS and taking a much wider patient group affected learning and practice within the Tavistock Clinic too. Michael Balint began work on short treatments, later supported by David Malan. Isabel Menzies Lyth undertook ground-breaking research that showed social defence processes involved in working in stressful situations.

Michael Balint also began developing support groups for medical practitioners. Balint groups remain an important support and training resource for anyone working in the NHS.

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