Psychodynamic reflective practice in mental health (D65)

Develop understanding and experience in the field of mental health – drawing on work in a range of professional and voluntary settings.

This programme will be of value to anyone interested in developing both theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the field of mental health.

You will be supported in applying key psychoanalytic concepts to your practice – whether in mental health care settings or a range of other professional and voluntary contexts. Through a stimulating mix of tutorials, seminars and work discussion, the course will enhance your current professional role and relationships, and also prepare you emotionally and academically for further clinical training.

The deadline for applications to this course is provisionally set for Wednesday 31 July 2024. However, we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible, as spaces are limited and can be competitive.

Please note: you may see the D65 course also referred to as PATCTP006 in communications from our application system.

About this course

This course offers a foundation in developing a clinical understanding of direct experience with service users. It provides a theoretical framework for students to develop their knowledge of and capacity to apply psychoanalytic concepts in their work within mental health care.

This course aims to:

  • extend students’ experience of working directly with clients who are suffering from mental illness or who are vulnerable to emotional distress – whether in mental health care settings or in a range of other professional or voluntary contexts, including befriending services, housing support, youth offending, social work, bereavement counselling and NHS services
  • provide those already working in mental health with the opportunity to develop a new theoretical framework to think about their work and the way they engage with it
  • support those interested in undertaking further psychotherapy training with the time and space to prepare emotionally and academically for the intensity of clinical therapeutic trainings
  • deepen understanding of how psychoanalytic concepts might look and feel when encountered in one-to-one work with clients and patients
  • explore the impact of equality, diversity and inclusion issues on us as individuals and on organisations, as well as how this relates to our practice, and to our understanding and application of psychoanalytic theory
  • build an in-depth understanding of human development, the impact of developmental and emotional difficulties in the context of social, economic and cultural circumstances, and the relevance of this to mental health work
  • consider psychodynamic theory within the context of a live working group, through a range of experiential learning opportunities
  • develop the capacity for more meaningful, accurate risk assessment
  • develop an appreciation of the therapeutic use of self in clinical practice
  • reflect on the importance of conscious and unconscious communications in the workplace
  • develop awareness of professional roles, relationships and clinical dilemmas and how to observe and understand them in practice.

Through a combination of applied theory seminars and work discussion groups you will develop an understanding of the underlying dynamics present in the complexities of the healthcare environment.

This course will improve your understanding of clinical and institutional dynamics, including complicated dynamics around experiences of sameness and difference which are at play within these processes.

At the heart of the course is the work discussion group which enables you to gain an understanding of the emotional challenges inherent in mental health work. This provides a valuable development opportunity for those with little clinical experience and offers a refreshing and stimulating approach for experienced mental health workers.

The seminars offer a synthesis of theoretical seminars with work discussion which enables students to reflect on how theory can allow for a deeper understanding of their work within mental health services.

This deeper understanding can improve patient care, maintain professional roles and relationships, improve risk assessment and lead to a better understanding of our patient’s experience as well as our own.

Tutorials are offered throughout the course, enabling you to consider your work in depth and to discuss your professional development, and plans for further training, where appropriate.

Who is this course for?

There are two groups of people who would benefit from this programme:

  • people who are keen to undertake psychotherapy training in the future, who may have completed an initial course and want to extend their experience of direct work with people in a mental health setting
  • mental health professionals who are keen to explore psychodynamic perspectives, to develop their knowledge and enhance their understanding of interactions at work with mental health service users, colleagues and institutions

Course details

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you demonstrate an interest in understanding a psychodynamic approach to the provision of mental health care and a willingness to organise and undertake a volunteer role in a mental health setting, if you are not already engaged in working within a mental health service.

This should ideally be established by October when the course commences and can be discussed at interview.


£4,010 per year (2024/25)


£8,020 per year (2024/25)

You will be charged course fees for each year of your course. If your course is longer than one year, the fees that you will be charged after the first year will be subject to an annual inflationary increase. This will either be an increase of 3% or the Consumer Price Inflation as on 1 September of that year – whichever is the greater. At its discretion, the Trust may determine a figure between these two rates. Please refer to our Student Fees & Refund Policy for further information.

Financial support may be available to help you fund your studies at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.


The course does not include a requirement for formal assessment. In the final term, there will be an option to submit a written piece of work relating to the application of theory to clinical experience.

Whether or not you chose to complete the optional written assignments will not affect your entitlement to the Tavistock Trust certificate at the end of the course.


  • Tuesday afternoons, 3 pm to 6pm during term time
  • Some reading and preparation will be required between sessions and there will be 24 sessions over the academic year

Many graduates of this course go on to study further training in adult psychotherapy, such as the Foundations of psychodynamic psychotherapy (D58) course at the Tavistock.

They often go on to secure paid or voluntary placements in mental health settings such as befriending services, psychiatric units or wards and counselling services. Others have gone into working in schools as part of mental health teams.

Why study with us?

You will be taught by experienced, practising clinicians within the applied theory seminars, and supported in exploring your experiences and observations in a work discussion group, facilitated by the tutor.

The course provides a solid foundation in developing skills and experience in working with mental health service users within both voluntary and statutory services.

The course provides an opportunity to develop observational skills, both of one’s self in practice and also of the ‘other’, be it client, team or organisation.

With an emphasis on applied psychoanalytic concepts, seminars will focus on applied therapeutic theory and the development of professional roles and relationships in mental health care; the foundations of psychotherapeutic work.


“Studying on this course has impacted my life, career, practice and myself. The theoretical concepts, combined with the depth of practice experience from my placement, has helped me prepare for the next steps in the journey. The diverse group sharing has created a deeper understanding and preparedness for future work. The courses I studied also impacted my own dynamic understanding of direct work with patients in a mental health setting and of the underlying dynamics present in the healthcare environment.”

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