What we do
We support children and adults who have dissociative disorders and complex traumatised states, often following a history of childhood trauma including abuse. Our work aims to help patients reduce dissociative and post-traumatic symptoms, come to terms with what has happened to them and, where possible, to empower them to regain control and move forward in their lives.
Treatment options can vary according to range including the severity of the dissociative disorder present, the degree of trauma experienced and whether there is ongoing traumatisation persisting into adulthood. Patients are treated by senior psychotherapists with specialist experience in working with people with dissociative disorders.
In 1992 the Department of Health funded a specialist project, conducted by Dr Robert Hale, Director of the Portman clinic, part of the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust and Dr Valerie Sinason, Consultant Psychotherapist and Psychoanalyst with a long professional career in intellectual disability and complex trauma. The project related to alleged victims of historical abuse who had been unable to progress with giving evidence to the police and aimed to discover whether there were any common factors in these cases.
The project’s clinical findings, submitted to the Department of Health, were:
- There appeared to be no mental health condition that precluded the research participants from giving a credible narrative;
- There were no presenting issues of so-called ‘recovered memory’;
- A significant minority of the research participants presented with dissociative disorders, including Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.).
When the project ended in 1998, Dr Sinason founded the Clinic for Dissociative Studies to continue the work and the Tavistock and Portman Trust asked patients to transfer to the Clinic.
Early years of the Clinic
The first patrons of the Clinic were Professor Peter Fonagy OBE and Ms Pearl King, a former President of the British Psychoanalytic Society. A short while later, Sir Richard Bowlby also became a Patron.
When Professor Fonagy ended his term of office after ten years, John Morton, Professor of memory research at UCL joined. John also undertook vital Clinic-based research into dissociative amnesia. Initial psychiatric consultation was provided by Dr Arnon Bentovim, a leading Consultant Psychiatrist in the child abuse field.
Expansion and development
The Clinic further developed with Professor Howard Steele from the Anna Freud Clinic providing attachment assessments. Whilst adhering to its original plan of providing psychotherapy for severely traumatised patients and becoming an independent provider to the NHS, the Clinic expanded and developed its remit to include further research, consultancy, training and specialist supervision over the next 20 years.
As the Clinic has developed a robust management structure has been introduced to ensure quality of care standards are maintained and that appropriate clinical and organisational processes are observed. Dr Rachel Thomas, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist joined the team as Lead Clinician in December 2013 and was appointed Director Elect in 2015.
The Clinic today
In 2016 the Clinic acquired premises in north London, formally opened by Sir Richard and Lady Xenia Bowlby. By December 17th 2016, when Dr Sinason retires as Clinic Director, the Clinic will have seen hundreds of children and adults with dissociative disorders, many treated in long-term, specialist psychotherapy in complex and unique treatment packages around each patient. It will also have provided consultation and supervision to professionals and organisations working with our severe and complex clinical group all over the UK.
The Clinic and its staff have published six books and numerous papers on the subject of the dissociative disorders and staff regularly lecture nationally and internationally on the subject. We are currently an active member of the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (the ISSTD) and the European Society (the ESTD). We are also participants in the ESTD’s UK training group and work closely alongside survivor organisations including First Person Plural, The Survivors Trust and NAPAC.