National Personality Disorder
Development Programme


How does joining the Complex Needs Service work?


People interested in joining the programme should get in touch by phone (01865 455872), email ( or letter (Complex Needs Service, Manzil Way, Oxford, OX4 1XE). You can also ask a professional to refer you to us, for example your GP, a support worker, psychiatrist, social worker, or someone else.


We will arrange to meet you at a place and time that is convenient. This will be a chance for you to find out what we do, discuss it all, and choose whether you want to go on to the next stage..


The next stage is one of our Options groups, which take place in different places in Oxfordshire on one day per week for a couple of hours. Here you will also be given all the information you need to decide whether to go on to the full programme. You can be a member of an options group for up to a year.


Joining the therapeutic community day programme involves a commitment to attend the daily programme in Oxford every weekday for 12 to 18 months. It will involve coming under our care programme and looking carefully at what psychiatric medication you are on. This means that you need to be absolutely sure that it is for you, and that you are ready to do it. We will help you with this in the Options group, and talk to other mental health staff, if we need to, and if you agree.


For those whose commitments prevent them from attending full time, who cannot easily get to Oxford, or whose problems are less severe, there are three intensive group programmes in Banbury, Wallingford and Witney. These programmes also last for 18 months, and like the Oxford day programme people need to go through one of the Options groups as preparation for joining the more intensive programmes. They involve two group meetings a week for about 2 hours each, as well as other meetings one to one.



What is a TC

Therapeutic communities (TCs) are group living programmes with a structure which includes psychotherapy and various other activities. People with longstanding and severe emotional problems come together to change and improve the way they relate to others, and how they see themselves.


TCs have existed for many years in mental health hospitals, in housing situations where people need long term support, as drug and alcohol rehab units and as prison programmes. There are about a hundred altogether in the UK, with about a dozen in the NHS.


One of the most important features of a TC is that people feel safe there – that they belong, and can be open with others. This level of trust is often something that has been harmfully lacking in people’s lives.


Problems - that people have usually had all their lives - come to light in the day-to-day relationships in the TC, and members are helped to find better and happier ways of coping. Much of the process is about taking responsibility for oneself, and learning when and how to ask others for help.


The full TC programme is from 9.00am to 3.30pm each weekday, with a half day on Wednesday. Meetings start at 9.30am and finish at 3pm, to allow people with school age children to be there.


Each day starts with a community meeting of all the members and staff. This is to catch up with what has happened for everybody since the last meeting, and to do any planning that is needed. This includes admission of new members, and reviewing current members’ progress.


After a morning break, there are various therapy groups, different each day. Some of these are with the whole community (up to 18 people at the moment, 24 later) and others are in smaller sub-groups.


Lunch is a do-it-ourselves affair, with members sharing the tasks of shopping, food preparation and cooking.


The afternoon is more light-hearted, with various activities and games chosen by the community before the final meeting. At this, the community checks how everybody is feeling and discusses how those who need support can get it.


Many other activities and events happen throughout the course of the year.


The base for the day service is in Manzil Way, Oxford. The locations of the intensive group programmes can be found on this website.



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