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About Arbours

Arbours Association Joe Berke and Morton Schatzmen pyschotherapy

Our History and Approach

The Arbours was established in the early 1970’s by Dr Joseph Berke  and Morty Schatzman, being particularly influenced by the pioneering work of R. D. Laing and his work in the Kingsley Hall community.

Within the Arbours therapeutic communities (which Arbours operated for four decades), we offered an alternative to inpatient psychiatric treatment, particularly for people in crisis. Guests in the communities would live with therapists, everyone would undertake everyday activities in the house and local community, as well as individual and group therapy, and therapeutic community meetings.

For many years, the Arbours approach to mental health crisis was of great interest internationally and has been supported by many highly respected psychotherapists such as Nina Coltart.

The Arbours approach is rooted in a robust study and application of psychoanalytic and relational theory and therapeutic work focuses on the quality of the relationship between the psychotherapist and the person in therapy. It is about ‘being with’ the individual person who is in therapy, and remaining non-judgemental, to listen and help make sense of our patients’ experience.

The Arbours psychotherapy training emphasised experiential learning, with trainees spending a large amount of time over many years working closely and/or living with people in crisis. This aspect of the training encouraged psychotherapists to address their own difficulties and issues whilst working with their clients’ difficulties, so they became better able to enable and sustain a therapeutic relationship in their work.

Rather than judge, explain or label the effects of past adversity, the Arbours way is to support people to understand their own experiences in their own life-enhancing ways. Rather than ask ‘What’s wrong with you?’, we ask ‘What happened to you?’. As Arbours psychotherapists, we minimise a ‘them and us’ power dynamic and keep personal assumptions in check, whilst questioning the assumptions of the prevailing culture (i.e. relating to gender, race, sexuality, class, and mental health), and we support the people we work with to do the same.

Over the last 50 years, Arbours trained therapists have had a significant influence on the mental health profession in London, UK and internationally. Many Arbours therapists have written books on psychotherapy, some have lectured at other psychotherapy trainings, and some have and indeed continue to hold senior roles in the NHS and charitable mental health services.

Although the Arbours no longer operates therapeutic communities or a psychotherapy training programme, our psychotherapy service continues to offer support to people in the same spirit.

Arbour Association Psychotherapy
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