Portman Clinic
8 Fitzjohn's Avenue, Swiss Cottage, NW3 5NA
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1931 - current

Mental (Out-Patients only)
The Psychopathic Clinic was established in 1933 by the Institute for the Scientific Study of Delinquency as its clinical branch for the treatment of those suffering from delinquent or criminal behaviour.

The aims of the Clinic were thorough assessment of the patient, diagnosis and treatment, mainly through psychoanalytic psychotherapy.  However, the work was also multidisciplinary, involving social workers and psychologists.  As well as undertaking research work, the Clinic offered training and consultations for professionals working in forensic mental health.

Many of the patients were found to be suffering from problems with disturbing sexual fantasies, behaviour and experience which did not fall into the delinquent or criminal categories.  Another group would also be added later, incorporating violent patients.

Initially the Clinic had no premises.  Clinicians agreed to see patients in their own consulting rooms, and treated them at a much reduced fee so as to fulfil the charitable purposes of the Institute.

The first patient - seen on 18th September 1933 - was 'a woman, 47 years of age, noted as having a violent temper, charged with assault on her woman employer'.

In the mid 1930s, with the help of Dr Emanuel Miller, who had helped found the East London Child Guidance Clinic, a room was secured at the Western Hospital.  This room was available for use by the Clinic on mornings only, and 5 shillings (25p) had to be paid every time it was used.  Patients were given a physical examination by Hospital staff, and a psychometric examination by a psychologist from the Clinic.  The staff of the Clinic - doctors, lay therapists, psychologists and social workers - received no pay.  Should psychotherapy prove necessary, treatment took place in the therapist's own consulting rooms.

In May 1937 new premises were acquired for the Institute and Clinic at No. 8 Portman Street.  The Clinic moved there in February 1938, where it was renamed the Portman Clinic.

During WW2 (1939-1945) many members of staff joined the military.  However, the clinical work carried on in a limited way (only assessments and short-term treatments were undertaken), mostly carried out by a small group of psychiatric social workers.

After the war, because the area around Portman Street had been damaged by a high explosive bomb, the Clinic moved to No. 8 Bourdon Street, a building reputedly located between a residence for nuns and a brothel.

In 1948 the Clinic joined the NHS under the control of the North East Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board.  It separated from its parent Institute, which remained an independent entity.

In 1970 the Clinic moved again, to its current location at No. 8 Fitzjohn's Avenue, adjacent to the Tavistock Centre.  Its staff consisted of consultant psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers and a consultant physician.

Following a major reorganisation of the NHS in 1974, the Clinic came under the control of the Hampstead District Health Authority, part of the North East Thames Regional Health Authority.

With the introduction of the 'market place' system within in the NHS in the early 1990s, the Clinic merged with the Tavistock Centre to form the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.

In 2006 the Trust became an NHS Foundation Trust.

Present status (February 2018)

The Clinic continues to offer psychotherapeutic treatment, but the unique nature of its clinical work has changed from helping patients who have committed acts of delinquency or criminality to those who suffer from sexual perversions or who commit acts of violence.

No. 8 Portmand Street
No. 8 Portman Street, the first real home of the Clinic, is now part of the Habib Bank UK, which occupies Nos. 7, 8 and 9 Portman Street.

No. 8 Bourdon Street

No. 8 Bourdon Street, the second home, was once the St George's Diocesan Training School.  The building has been demolished and replaced by a newish office block (above and below).

No. 8 Bourdon Street

Portman Clinic
No. 8 Fitzjohn's Avenue is the current location of the Clinic.  Whether by chance or design, all the buildings occupied by the Clinic have been numbered No. 8.

Portman Clinic
The only signage for the Clinic is a brass plate by the front door.
References (Accessed 25th February 2018)

Fishman C, Ruszczynski S 2007 The Portman Clinic: An Historical Sketch.  In:  Morgan DH, Ruszczynski S (eds) Lectures on Violence, Perversion and Delinquency.  London, Karnac.  Pp. 15-22.

https://tavistockandportman.nhs.uk (1)
https://tavistockandportman.nhs.uk (2)

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