The Tavistock clinic (1920-the present). Dr. Hugh Crichton-Miller set up the Tavistock Clinic, London, in 1920, in response to a need for psychological help for people affected by the First World War. From that time to the present, the Clinic has aimed to combine research into the causes of mental ill-health with the development of effective treatments, along with a commitment to the dissemination of skills to trainees and other professionals. During the Second World War, many of the staff joined the Forces to provide psychological and psychiatric treatment, particularly to people suffering from what was then called 'war neurosis' or 'shell-shock' and would now be called PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). The return of these staff, with their experience in military service, influenced the Clinic's work, which continues to have as one of its specialities the treatment of trauma-related conditions.
The period immediately following the Second World War was a time of great theoretical developments in psychoanalytic theory, and in Britain this was very much centred on the Tavistock Clinic. Amongst many theorists, it is notable that Melanie Klein, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth were working at the Clinic and contributing to the development of the unique Tavistock style of work. This combines a deep compassion for the difficulties many people face in psychological adjustment with a concern for the development of theoretical understandings of the processes by which such difficulties arise and how best they can be treated. As well as being one of the key centres in which modern object relations theory continues to develop, the Tavistock Clinic has an international reputation for its work in marital therapy, for its systemic approach to family therapy and for its unique infant observation training.
The Tavistock Clinic is also important for another theme in the development of psychology – the systems approach to psychology – which has relevance in family therapy but also in industrial and occupational psychology. To quote from its published aim: \n\nToday, our core aim remains unchanged. It is as relevant for the millennium as it was in 1920: to make a significant contribution to improving the mental health of the nation by leading the development of innovative, multidisciplinary training for professionals working in the mental health field, the probation service, education and social work.