A Day at The Cassel
On 14 September 2019, INDTC welcomed 30 people from Italy, two from Portugal, one from each of Croatia, India, Spain, India, South Korea, and a few dozen from the UK. The theme of the conference was RELATIONAL PRACTICE AND DEMOCRATIC MENTAL HEALTH. It was held in the wood-panelled Lawrence Hall, and several of the current Cassel residents watched proceedings from the gallery.
Four speakers in the morning presented different ways of using these democratic and relational ideas for clinical services: PETER COCKERSELL told us about CHT’s development of ‘Psychologically Informed Recovery Communities’; NATASHA BERTHOLLIER explained how the whole town of Slough is becoming an enabling town; NICK PUTNAM drew parallels between TCs and Open Dialogue; and SIMONE BRUSHETTA described a Sardinian programme for multi-family therapy. VICKY GAVIN, the current chair of TCTC – the British association for TCs – chaired a panel discussion to digest it all.
Before lunch, three of our Italian TC champions then gave an account of some Italian connnections: RAFFAELE BARONE, LUCA MINGARELLI and ANGELITA VOLPE.
We enjoyed a beautiful autumn day for weather, so at lunch time many people sat on the grass or walked around the large wooded garden – or explored the curious zen spiral, which was once a prize-winning display garden at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hampton Court Show.
Next was a theatrical presentation from MEL BALL and FIONA THOMPSON, who dramatised a moving poetic letter and led a discussion about the experience of being members of the Henderson and Cassel TCs. KIM BARLOW then presented SIMMI PROTAB’s research on psychosocial nursing at the Cassel.
After tea, we moved into a large circle to have a closing community meeting. Connections were made, ideas thrown about, and much gentle but convivial chaos enjoyed – as the clamour of different languages was impossible to translate in time. But everybody seemed to have enjoyed the day, and went home happy.
The Cassel Hospital is part of the heritage of therapeutic communities – it is here that Tom Main worked after the Second World War, and it is here that generations of British medical psychoanalysts have trained. It has been part of the NHS since it started in 1948, and is now the only residential treatment for severe personality disorder in the NHS.