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Ellis, S. Hirst, S. (2018). Catherine Freeman 1953-2017. Brit. J. Psychother., 34(2):319-321.

(2018). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 34(2):319-321


Catherine Freeman 1953-2017

Sian Ellis and Sue Hirst

Catherine Freeman, who died on 4 November 2017, was born in 1953 in a Normandy village near Mont St Michel. She came to London in the 1970s and was manager of Tuttons Brasserie, Covent Garden, in its early days. Then, in the 1980s, she trained as a psychiatric nurse and subsequently as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist.

In writing this Appreciation we have consulted with other colleagues and friends. From 1988 to 2008, Catherine worked as Staff Nurse and later Consultant Mental Health Nurse Specialist and Clinical Manager at the Halliwick Unit, an NHS psychotherapy service in Haringey, North London. Originally located at Friern Hospital, the Halliwick later moved to St Ann's Hospital in Tottenham, where it remains today as a well-respected service for people with personality disorder.

Anthony Bateman, who was appointed Consultant Psychiatrist and Consultant Psychotherapist at the Halliwick Unit in 1989, writes:

Catherine found that a psychotherapeutic approach to people with mental health problems fitted with her personal philosophy and her approach to the treatment of mental illness. She fitted Halliwick and Halliwick fitted her. In the late 1980s Halliwick unit lacked a clear identity in terms of who was being treated and how patients were treated. Catherine became central in re-directing the service as a specialist service for people with personality disorder and, over time, she was significant to the development of a cohesive team.

The team at Halliwick unit was organized along functional lines rather than professional lines. Catherine argued strongly to protect what she saw as the special skills of nurses who were also trained or were training in psychotherapy. She was concerned that managers and others in mental health services tended to diminish nurses and she was constantly sensitive to the potential for the profession to be undervalued. Indeed as a person she could be sensitive and sometimes reactive but she never lost a sense of proportion and her ability to laugh alongside herself was one of her great personal strengths.

Catherine's insistence that nurses were respected naturally led to some tension in the team, but she was constantly respectful of other professional groups and their different skills. Her professional attitudes became more important in shaping the team at Halliwick when she was appointed as the team lead.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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