Tradition and innovation in the work of the Centre

1st August 2017 By: hannah.evans@annafreud.org

As you may be aware, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families has sold its properties at 12, 14 Maresfield Gardens and is in the process of selling 21 Maresfield Gardens, where Anna Freud worked for part of her career, in order to fund its new integrated campus in King’s Cross which will include a National Centre of Excellence for child mental health.

This is a significant move in the history and the development of our work. We feel we have to adapt to meet the growth in need for our knowledge, skills and services. We believe that the best way to achieve this ambition is to build a new integrated campus to support the increased demand on services from children and their families. And we can only fund this move by selling our properties.

The prospect of this move is challenging in several respects and you may have seen a petition calling for the retention of the property we call House 21. We understand that the sale of this building represents a physical loss and a tangible link to our history. Indeed, many of you who studied in these buildings will have fond memories of them and will have felt the privilege of working in the buildings where Anna Freud’s work developed. As such, the decision to sell has been a very difficult one. But after careful reflection we believe that the best legacy for Anna Freud’s contribution is a living one. We believe that the living work of the Centre is the best way to carry forward her legacy and, importantly, best serve the vulnerable children and families to whom she dedicated her own life.

Over the last 15 years the Centre has thrived. We work with over 1,000 schools to help them support children who are struggling. We have developed a new educational model for children at risk of exclusion - the Family school – which is entirely consistent with Anna Freud’s own innovations in combining education and mental health. The Family School draws on Anna Freud’s principles and seeks to ensure that vulnerable children are supported to return to and thrive in mainstream education.  The Family School will be at the heart of the new Campus, both physically and intellectually. It is a new model that uniquely offers excellent education alongside therapy and mental health support for children and their families. This is just one way in which Anna Freud’s work continues to influence and inspire us.

As we continue to grow and develop, psychoanalytic work will retain an important place at the Centre. We have trained over 500 postgraduate students in psychoanalytic theory and currently offer an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology, a PhD programme in Psychoanalysis and we collaborate with the British Psychotherapy Foundation in delivering a Doctoral Training in Child Psychotherapy that currently has 22 trainees. This year we have set up two new Psychoanalytic Toddler Groups in other parts of London extending this service from two sites to four. We have also applied to the British Psychoanalytic Council for accreditation of a new Parent Infant Psychotherapy Training that has been developed at the Centre. More broadly, we provide a range of clinical services and continue to train thousands of practitioners each year.

We cannot continue to grow and serve the needs of families and children in our current environment where we are dispersed across multiple sites. To continue our tradition of ground-breaking contributions to child mental health, we need to integrate clinical, training, research and increasingly policy programmes of work. Our new National Centre for Excellence will provide an environment to help us achieve these ambitions. It will welcome clinicians, families, schoolchildren, students, policy makers and researchers.

The new Campus and Centre of Excellence will allow us to expand and to better reach the vulnerable populations that we are here to support. It will serve as a living legacy for our founder, adapting her philosophy, ethics and epistemology to meet new needs. We continue to be inspired by her extraordinary work and her unbounded enthusiasm for helping children and families when faced with trauma and distress, and we feel that she would be proud to see her legacy grow.

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