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Understanding trauma: principles and practice (D18)

Gain a deeper understanding of the mental impact of traumatic events within a psychoanalytic framework

This course offers a supportive and lively setting in which to gain a deeper understanding of the impact on the mind of traumatic events as understood within a psychoanalytic framework.

You will develop an awareness of the contribution psychoanalytic ideas can make to therapeutic work with traumatised individuals and groups.

Please note: you may see the D18 course also referred to as PATCTP004 in communications from our application system.

About this course

Over the year, your study will include the elements listed below:

Work discussion group

You will have the opportunity to bring your work with traumatised individuals or groups to a small work discussion group, led by an experienced psychotherapist. You will be required to bring case material for discussion once or twice termly.

Theory seminar/lecture

Through reading, discussion and lectures you will study a psychoanalytic approach to the consequences of traumatic events.

Over three terms, the lectures and discussions cover:

  • historical review and current psychoanalytic theories including the Tavistock model
  • psychoanalytic concepts and their relevance to trauma
  • treatment modalities and specialist areas

Experiential group

An opportunity to learn about a psychoanalytic approach through your own experiences in the group. The group provides the opportunity to talk with fellow students about the impact of the group, the course, and the counter-transference issues raised by work in this area.

Application group

This takes place twice during the course. The group is facilitated and will help you make a bridge between your learning on the course and your own work settings and practices.

Who is this course for?

This course is for you if you are a professional working with the psychological aftermath of trauma in either a generic or specialist mental health or related setting. You may, for example, be a clinical psychologist, a counsellor or a psychotherapist.

Specialist settings can include the police, emergency services, refugees and asylum seekers.

Course details

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you are a professional working with people who have experienced trauma.


£ 3,675 per year


£ 7,350 per year

For more information about financing your studies and your fee status, please see our fees and funding area.

Please note that course fees are subject to a 3% or CPI uplift each year, whichever is greater.

We are happy to offer a range of ways to pay your fees, as well as some funding for specific courses.


This is not a qualifying course; it is part of the Tavistock’s continuing professional development portfolio.

A Tavistock and Portman Trust certificate is available to those with 80% attendance who also complete an optional 4,000 word essay related to the theory and practice of a psychoanalytic approach to trauma.


Thursday afternoons from 2pm to 6.15pm, online.

Graduates of this course are often at the frontline of health and social care services and leave with skills that will enhance and support their workplaces, as well as their own development in trauma-focussed practice.

Many graduates are psychotherapists, who have gone on to work in trauma-specific environments, and nurses, who have reported greater confidence in offering reflective practice to their colleagues.

Why study with us?

The course will provide you with the opportunity to study with others who are experienced in working with trauma. It will help you to develop a deeper capacity to reflect on your working practice and the impact of working with traumatised individuals and groups.

You will increase your understanding of the principles and practice of a psychoanalytic approach to trauma, and the place of psychoanalytic thinking in relation to other models e.g. trauma focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).

You will gain a deeper understanding of the impact on the mind of traumatic events, as understood within a psychoanalytic framework, and develop a greater awareness of the contribution psychoanalytic ideas can make to therapeutic work with traumatised individuals and groups.

Learning about a psychoanalytic approach to thinking about trauma will develop your understanding of the longer term and relational consequences of traumatic experiences, whether you are working within a psychoanalytic framework already, or using cognitive behavioural therapy, EMDR, or a range of models of intervention.

It can help if you are working with individuals who have not substantially benefitted from CBT or EMDR, or if you want to enhance your understanding of a psychoanalytic approach to working with trauma, whatever model you are currently working with.

It can also help you to develop your understanding of the potentially powerful impact of the work on professionals working with trauma, including yourself.


“Being guided by such a well-tried model of the mind was beneficial in my daily psychiatric practice. Having in mind the psychoanalytic model of trauma significantly lessens my anxiety and distress when in contact with severely traumatised patients. ”
“Now I know why the Tavistock has such a good reputation. A fantastic course.”

Course facilitators

Register your interest

Applications for this course are now closed. Follow the link and complete the form to be the first to hear when this course opens for applications.

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