The History of The Harry Guntrip Psychotherapy Trust

Harry Guntrip was the obvious name for a trust to support training in psychotherapy in Yorkshire.

Guntrip spent much of his working life in Leeds as a member of the University Department of Psychiatry and he suffered the difficulties that people training outside London have to live with, having to travel to get training. Crighton-Miller from the Tavistock Clinic was his first supervisor and then briefly his analyst in London. In 1949 Guntrip arranged to go into analysis with Donald Fairbairn, (whom he admired for his writings), in Edinburgh having four sessions a week on two and sometimes three consecutive days. Fairbairn suited him as he was an Object Relations theorist although his practice was in fact quite Freudian.

As Fairbairn became older and more frail he encouraged Guntrip to take on further analysis with Winnicott who was a more deeply ingrained Object Relations analyst . Guntrip travelled to London monthly to see Winnicott for two or three sessions in a day. He spent much time on the train writing about his experience.

Subsequently Guntrip provided much of the training in psychotherapy for mental health professionals in Leeds and Bradford, working with Dr. Ronald Markillie and Alan Dabbs.

(In turn) Brian Lake, who was Consultant Psychotherapist in Leeds and Bradford until 1987, was an analysand of Guntrip’s. Brian travelled to Leeds for his analysis whilst he was training in psychotherapy and working in Nottingham up until 1979. The result of these connections has been a long and strong history of object relations theory in psychotherapy practice in Leeds and Yorkshire. A major part of this was the Postgraduate Diploma in Psychotherapy started by Harry Guntrip and fellow psychoanalyst Ronald Markillie and later joined by Brian Lake and Dorothy Heard. This course was the foundation course for many of the psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapist currently practicing in Yorkshire who then went to complete their trainings elsewhere but came back to continue building the culture here. Many have been helped financially by the Trust.

In 1986 Marta Smith was consultant child psychotherapist in Doncaster and Leeds and from 1987 Dr. Celly Rowe was Consultant psychotherapist and psychiatrist in Leeds. They both had training roles and were close colleagues. They began to work together to raise money to provide a network of training events to raise awareness and understanding of psychoanalytic psychotherapy locally, taking over some of the activity that had previously been provided by the Yorkshire Association of Psychotherapy (YAP).

In 1988 they put on their first fundraising concerts in colleague’s houses. This was so successful and popular that other events followed. Barbara Mindham, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, Caroline Owens, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, Susie Godsil, Psychoanalyst, Ann Harrow, Group Analyst and Lesley Cann, Consultant Psychotherapist and Psychiatrist, all opened their homes for these events.

The money raised was initially given to support the National Child Psychotherapy Trust. However, Marta and Celly felt that money could be well used in Yorkshire rather than going south so they approached Voluntary Action Leeds to get advice about how to set up a charity to raise funds to promote psychoanalytic ideas and help support local psychotherapists with their training.

They soon found that they would need to form a group of trustees and to apply to the charity commission. Andrew Sims, Professor of Psychiatry, and Carol Martin, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, joined them in the task, with Alison Sidey, Lawyer contributing her legal knowledge. Together with Marta and Celly they became the first trustees. Vic Sedlak, Psychoanalyst, acted as outside referee for the charity commission application. Mike Rowe, charity fundraiser was consulted for his fundraising expertise. Dorothy Heard and Brian Lake gave their support, bringing their experience of being involved in setting up a Harry Guntrip Charity in Edinburgh to support the psychotherapeutic work of the clergy.

The Harry Guntrip Trust Yorkshire was given charitable status in March 1995. A big inaugural concert was held in the Cloth Workers Hall at Leeds University in front of the Mayor of Leeds and other dignitaries. Thus began a long series of wide ranging enjoyable social and money raising events, which still go on today. The regular “auction of skills” events were very popular in early days. These activities developed in time into events linking the arts and psychotherapy with an especially fruitful partnership being made with Opera North. As the success of fundraising events became reliable we were able to begin to offer bursaries to trainees in need of support. This work continues to this day with an on-going aim to further psychotherapy training locally.