Meet our clinician tutors

Teaching real-world experience, every day

The staff that treat our patients also teach our students

This means that you receive the most up-to-date, relevant and real-time education that will prepare or empower you for your career in mental health, social care or management and leadership.

Meet Shila Rashid, course lead on ‘Systemic psychotherapy (M6)’

Shila Rashid illustration

Having grown up in the era of the Yorkshire Ripper (a serial murderer in the 1970s) and being an avid reader of French and English novels from my early adolescence, I have been always been intrigued by the many different tapestries of people’s lives, how our minds work and the life experiences that affect the ways we think and behave with others.

This deep curiosity about people, coupled with being seen by my friends and family as a sort of ‘agony aunt’ from early on, I think it was inevitable that I would find my way into training as a psychotherapist, which I undertook at the Tavistock and Portman in the early 1990s. 

I then worked as a systemic psychotherapist in the NHS for almost 26 years and became increasingly interested in supervision and training. And, now, here I am, back at the Tavistock, in a very different capacity, as the course lead for the Systemic psychotherapy (M6) course!

“For me, there is immense pleasure, privilege and enriched opportunities for learning and growth when I connect with others. Whether family, friends, clients, students, supervisees or colleagues, people inspire me with their multitude and unique lived experiences and identities. Above all, I am constantly humbled by our ability to strive and thrive in the midst of difficult circumstances and suffering, whether through traumatic experiences, poverty, war, abuse, violence, being a refugee, dislocated from home and loved ones, or oppression and discrimination.

In my different roles as a therapist, supervisor, trainer and course lead, foremostly, I enjoy working with others, being able to co-create opportunities for thinking, reflecting, problem-solving and, sometimes, just sitting together with something quite difficult and challenging whilst acknowledging it may take some time for things to be different but we are in it together.

I have enjoyed all aspects of my professional journey, warts and all! I have learnt, and continue to learn, immensely from my clients, colleagues, mentors, supervisors, students and supervisees. Every experience, even the more challenging and traumatic ones, have contributed to my learning and growth. The possibility to make a difference to the lives of others – whether through therapy, supervision or training – is both a huge responsibility and a privilege, and is at the heart of what inspires and impassions me in my work.

I feel I have come to the Tavistock at a historical moment, when it is celebrating its 100 years of existence and contribution to the field of mental health – through provision of a range of psychotherapeutic disciplines, training and academic writing and research.

Having trained at the Tavistock in the early 1990s, I was the sole ethnic minority in my course, with all my fellow trainees and trainers being white. Issues of race, racism and culture were rarely thought about, or held by others, unless I raised these matters myself, which was not always an easy process being a student! I am, therefore, excited to be working with others at the Tavistock at a point of history, following the death of George Floyd, where the organisation has committed itself to becoming anti-racist and making a visible and meaningful difference to the lives of clients, students and staff from ethnically diverse communities.

If someone is thinking about applying I would say that your doubts and uncertainties are welcome and free to be expressed. However, if you do decide to apply, be prepared for a rich experience of learning and growth, personally and professionally, being stretched beyond what is familiar and comfortable, in a stimulating environment, with a rich tradition of contribution to the world of mental health service provision and training, and with tutors, supervisors and administrators who are committed to supporting your development throughout your training journey!”

Meet Dr. Brian Davis, course tutor on ‘Child, community and educational psychology (M4)’

Dr Brian Davis

I trained initially as a secondary school science teacher, became a head of biology and taught in what was then a social priority area in London, for a number of years. I became motivated to  work with children and young people vulnerable to exclusion and I worked with a team to promote inclusion of young people in mainstream schools.

I went on to complete a postgraduate diploma, a master’s and a professional doctorate in educational psychology; became an educational psychologist, a senior specialist, a principal educational psychologist and finally I carried out deputy director and head of service roles for a local authority. I have been the director of educational psychology courses at the Tavistock and Portman for seven years.

“I work in education psychology because it is important that I feel I have a role in diverse and multi-cultural communities in promoting inclusion, opportunity for all and social justice. I have found working as an educational psychologist very rewarding. I value the joint working with children and young people, parents and carers and other professionals.

I thought that through becoming the director of educational psychology courses, I would have opportunities to give something back and share learning derived from my experience. In fact I learn very much from the trainees who will be the next generation of practitioners. They work so hard, with such great dedication and a wonderful awareness about developing professionalism and ethical practice. Seeing them succeed is the best part of my job.

If anyone is thinking about applying to the course, I would say that all the educational psychology courses are different but our course is more different than others! The unique setting provides great opportunities to work with and understand other professionals’ perspectives and the experiential elements and reference to psychodynamic theory help in the development of reflective skills and self awareness.”

Meet Sylvia Smith, course lead on ‘Working with complex needs in contemporary social work practice (M45)’

Sylvia Smith illustration

I have worked in social work practice, management and education for over 35 years. I joined the profession out of a strong desire to help and support vulnerable people in our society. 

My career has included work in the voluntary, statutory and private sectors in the areas of youth and community, children and families and mental health. Later in my career, I developed an interest in training, education and development and began as a practice educator which ensures that I remain involved in social work practice so I can impart my real time experience to my students.

Two years ago, I was asked to lecture and be the course lead for our new social work modular programme, Working with complex needs in contemporary social work practice (M45).

“The highlight of my career has been achieving my doctorate in social work. It was entirely challenging but also extremely rewarding and it took a huge level of commitment and determination to complete the course, particularly as I did so whilst continuing to work fulltime. However, it enabled me to undertake research in an area of social work practice and leadership which was incredibly enjoyable.

What I really enjoy about working at the Tavistock and Portman is contributing to the education of the next generation of social workers, to the development of experienced practitioners wanting to study and undertake practice research and to the continuing professional development of practitioners and leaders in the field.

If you are unsure about applying, I would really encourage you to do so. This is a dynamic environment in which you are challenged academically, where you are able to bring your whole self and where your personal and professional experiences are truly valued.”

Meet Francesca Benjamin, course lead on ‘Psychodynamic reflective practice in mental health (D65)’

Francesca Benjamin illustration

Before training as a child and adolescent psychotherapist, I worked for many years using music as way of working with and supporting emotionally vulnerable children and adults, in various role including as music teacher for children with special educational needs.

Over time I became more drawn to the field of psychoanalysis and the way in which it can deepen our understanding of ourselves, others and our relationships, both in a professional and a personal sense. I decided to complete a master’s in psychoanalytic developmental psychology, which was my first stepping stone of the journey to complete my training.

Alongside this I undertook a range of experience working in the field of social care and in educational settings, working with vulnerable children from a range of ages, ethnic backgrounds and cultures. This broadening of experience allowed me to gain a better sense of the challenges and rewards encountered in working with families and children facing complex difficulties. The experience gave me what I needed to then complete my training in child and adolescent psychotherapy.

“I am passionate about not only psychoanalytic work in its own right but also in the way it can be applied to other settings in order to enhance understanding of what can be understood about the meaning behind all sorts of presentations and behaviours. I have a particular interest in both applied psychoanalytic work in school settings and in the way emotional factors impact on the experience of both the learning and the relationships that take place in educational settings. 

I have always had a keen interest in teaching and education and thoroughly enjoy my role as course lead on the Psychodynamic reflective practice in mental health (D65) course and the ways in which it allows me to bring together my interest and experience in teaching and learning, with my clinical psychoanalytic training.

I enjoy both my clinical work with families and children and my work in teaching, and one of the highlights of my career has been to take up my role as a course lead, which has allowed me to strike a balance between clinical and teaching work throughout my working week. I find this balance very rewarding and very much enjoy being able to draw on my clinical work in my teaching, and vice versa.

I enjoy working with families and children from a range of backgrounds, being able to think about the complex dynamics that take place in families and in early development and to use these theories in order to understand more about the people I work with. I enjoy welcoming students from a diverse range of professional and personal backgrounds to my course, and supporting them along their training journey, either to becoming therapists, or to being able to incorporate some psychoanalytic understanding into roles in other mental health settings, and with the aim of deepening students’ understanding of themselves and others in their work lives. 

I would encourage prospective students to apply for courses of interest at the Tavistock and Portman. I feel that the we offer a rich learning environment, brought alive by the clinical work that goes on in the same building, and enhanced by the history of theoretical and working models that have emerged through work at the Tavistock over time. The range of courses means that it is possible to find courses that suit the previous work and learning experiences of individual students, and of course the ultimate career goals that they have.”

Meet Matthew Chuard, course lead on ‘Emotional care of babies, children, young people and families (EC1)’

Matthew Chuard

I first became interested in human development at an individual and societal level when I studied A-level psychology and sociology at night school. Following this I went on to study psychology at university and whilst I was on a year studying in America I took an undergraduate course in psychoanalysis and this is where I first encountered the work of Freud and Melanie Klein.

On this course, the lecturer told the class that if we wanted to study psychoanalysis that London was the place to go! Following this advice I moved to London and trained as a teacher with the eventual aim being to train as a child psychotherapist at some point in the future.

“I worked as a secondary school teacher for five years and then trained as an educational psychologist here at the Tavistock and Portman. This was a truly enriching experience and I was introduced to ideas from developmental psychology, systemic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis applied to education in a way which really broadened my thinking and understanding of learning and development.

My interest in mental health and psychoanalysis continued to grow in my work as an educational psychologist and I eventually decided that I would like to train as a child psychotherapist. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity have done two trainings at the Tavistock which are both excellent and very different.

I apply what I learnt in my work as an educational psychologist and as a child psychotherapist to my role as a teacher and the course lead on the Emotional care of babies, children, young people and families (EC1) course. One of the things I love about working at the Tavistock is that I get access to the library – the resources are excellent and the staff are really knowledgeable and helpful. 

I am the first person in my family to go university and the journey to get here has been both challenging and rewarding, and with it there have been many anxieties along the way. Will I make it? Will I be good enough? Will they want me? Such feelings and doubts are an essential and integral part of the learning process and must be managed and thought about in order for us to progress and develop in an authentic way, but, at the same time, it is important that they don’t prevent us from taking that first step and making full use of the opportunities that are in front of us. 

If you are thinking about applying for this course, I would say to go for it! If you have a genuine interest in the development of children and their families, and in society at large, then EC1 is a great place to start.”

Meet Anna Harvey, Senior Clinical Lecturer on ‘Advanced practice and research social work and social care (D55)’

I began working with people in the community as a volunteer many years ago in Glasgow. I worked with homeless people in a therapeutic community and seven years’ experience of working and living with rough sleepers and then young homeless people opened my eyes to the devastating effects of deprivation, traumatic childhood experiences, addiction and mental health problems.

This experience made me curious about how I could work more effectively with people at an earlier stage in their lives so that the effects of trauma could be addressed at an earlier point or even prevented or ameliorated. I decided to become a children and families social worker and I was involved in the much heavier end of child protection, where physical abuse and sexual abuse were the focus.

These extreme experiences disturbed me, and were highly distressing to everyone. I wondered how I could understand the tragedy behind the work better and remain compassionate and therapeutic in my approach.

“I decided to apply for a professional doctorate in emotional wellbeing at the Tavistock and Portman and I subsequently began psychoanalysis. I realised I had unconsciously become the social worker that I never had. This realisation helped me to move away from repetitious need to re-enact my own childhood trauma through my work. 

Obviously, walking on stage and receiving my doctorate award was the greatest moment in my professional career but I also gain huge pride in seeing my students wear a floppy hat! It is my greatest pleasure to be working with the advanced practitioners who choose to study with us at the Tavistock; I learn so much from my students.

The students on the Advanced practice and research social work and social care (D55) course are curious, courageous and thoughtful practitioner researchers. Their research studies often shine a light on the experiences of marginalised groups and we have a strong history of black students achieving doctorate level. It makes me hugely proud that my knowledge can assist in the progression of knowledge of social work and social care practice in the field.

If anyone is unsure about studying at the Tavistock, I say, “Come and talk to any of us!” We are available for discussions anytime of the year; we are approachable and responsive. Our previous or current students could also help you to decide about whether this is the right course for you and we can put you in touch with them to help you decide.”

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