Gerry Byrne

Gerry is a DPhil student (part-time) and also a member of St Antony’s College. For his doctoral research, Gerry is exploring the role and mechanism of epistemic trust in reducing maltreatment in high-risk families undergoing the Lighthouse Mentalisation-based Treatment Parenting Programme. He is supervised by Professor Jane Barlow

Gerry is a consultant child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapist (Tavistock), a consultant nurse, and adult psychotherapist. He is also a mentalisation-based treatment (MBT) practitioner, supervisor, and trainer (adult, adolescent and family) for the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. He trains and supervises MBT programmes and clinicians in the UK and internationally and leads on MBT trainings for the Centre in Ireland. 

In September 2021, Gerry founded SOLAS Oxford CIC, a not-for-profit community interest company whose mission is to support health and social care professionals working with vulnerable, complex, risk laden clinical populations to enhance the quality and effectiveness of their therapeutic relationships, through bespoke training, supervision, adaptation of treatment programmes, and innovation. In collaboration with Alessandro Talia, PhD, SOLAS Oxford have developed a radical model of Attachment-informed Supervision and Training for Psychotherapists (AiSTP). 

Prior to his DPhil studies, Gerry spent 35 years as a clinician in specialist NHS mental health services. His primary focus as a clinician and designer of services over the last 32 years, has been the expert assessment and treatment of families in which severe child abuse has taken place. For the last 16 years he was Head of Attachment and Perinatal Services at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. He designed and ran four award-winning specialist CAMHS services; the Family Assessment and Safeguarding Services (FASS Oxford & FASS Wiltshire and BATHNES), the Reconnect Service (Buckinghamshire) and the Infant-Parent Perinatal Service (Oxford). In addition, he was Clinical Lead for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and served three years as Associate Clinical Director of CAMHS. 

Gerry developed, in collaboration with Nick Midgley, Anthony Bateman and Peter Fonagy at the Anna Freud National Centre, an approach and treatment programme aimed at reducing the risk of maltreatment in high-risk families - The Lighthouse MBT-Parenting Programme (LLP). 

The LPP is a manualised, innovative adaptation of mentalisation-based treatment (MBT) which aims to prevent child maltreatment by promoting epistemic trust, mentalizing and sensitive caregiving in parents. It is rooted in psychoanalytic, attachment and mentalisation concepts. Currently there are six, separate manualised Lighthouse MBT-P programmes for different populations.

The Lighthouse Parenting Programme is undergoing randomised-controlled trials (RCTs) in England and Germany. In England, the Supporting Parents Project (SPP) is a two-arm multi-site randomised controlled trial which aims to evaluate the Lighthouse Parenting Programme in Children's Social Care for parents of a child aged 12 or under who have been on a Child Protection Plan in the last 12 months. Funded by a grant from What Works for Children’s Social Care the trial is conducted by the Child Attachment and Psychological Therapies Research (ChAPTRe) team (Dr Michelle Sleed, Professor Nick Midgley and Professor Pasco Fearon (Anna Freud National Centre and UCL). In Germany, an adapted version of the Lighthouse programme was pilot tested (Volkert et al, 2019) and is now undergoing a RCT as part of the UBICA-2 Project (Understanding and Breaking the Intergenerational Cycle of Abuse) led by Professor Svenja Taubner at the University of Heidelberg. The aim of this randomised controlled intervention study is to break the transgenerational vicious circle of child abuse through a prevention programme aimed at mothers and fathers who are considered a risk group for child abuse. 

In addition, there are pilot studies of the shorter 12-session programme in Portugal, Lithuania, and Ireland and a pilot study of the multi-family version is planned for 2022. Outside of the UK, the programme is being delivered clinically in Poland, Ireland, Portugal, Lithuania, Spain, Germany, Australia, Argentina, and trainings are planned for teams in Israel, Brazil, Denmark and Belgium in 2022-2023. 

The work of the Lighthouse Programme was featured in a documentary on Radio 4 on 1 February 2019 entitled Seeing Unseen Children

Gerry is also author of a children’s picture book, All at Sea, published by Walker about a little boy who has bad dreams following the arrival of a new baby. 

The role and mechanism of epistemic trust in reducing maltreatment in high-risk families undergoing the Lighthouse Mentalisation-based Treatment Parenting Programme.

Volkert, J., Taubner, S., Byrne, G., Rousseau, T., Midgley, N (2021). Mentalization-based approaches for parents, children, youth and families American Journal of Psychotherapy
Published Online: 2 Nov 2021 https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.20210020

Byrne, G. (2020). "And whatever you say, you say nothing" Establishing epistemic trust in The Lighthouse MBT-parenting programme: a case study. Journal of Psychological Therapies, 5(2), 206-228. doi: 10.33212/jpt.v5n2.2020.206

Volkert, J., Georg, A., Hauschild, S., Herpertz, S.C., Neukel, Byrne, G., C., Taubner, S. (2019). Strengthening attachment competencies in parents with mental illness: adaptation and pilot testing of a mentalization-based Lighthouse parenting program. Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie, 68, 27- 42.

Byrne, G., Sleed, M., Midgley, N., Fearon, P., Mein, C., Bateman, A., & Fonagy, P. (2018). Lighthouse Parenting Programme: Description and pilot evaluation of mentalization-based treatment to address child maltreatment. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359104518807741

Warriner, S., Byrne, G., Graham, D. (2011) Maternal and Mental Health Services Working Collaboratively for Women, British Journal of Midwifery, November 2011, Vol 19, No. 11

Paz,I., Jones, D., and Byrne, G. (2005) Child maltreatment, child protection and mental health, Current Opinion in Psychiatry

Taubner, S., Byrne, G. & Volkert, J. (2018). The Therapeutic Relationship in Mentalization Based Therapy (MBT) [Die therapeutische Beziehung in der Mentalisierungsbasierten Therapie (MBT)]. In Variants of psychotherapeutic relationship - transdiagnostic findings, concepts, perspectives. [Verhaltenstherapie & Verhaltensmedizin], 39(1), 23-38.

Byrne, G., Lees, G. (2017) When the Bough Breaks – The Lighthouse Programme. In Celebi, M., and Foster, R. (Eds) Weaving the Cradle, Facilitating Groups to Promote Attunement and Bonding between Parents, Their Babies and Toddlers. Singing Dragon, London and Philadelphia. 

Bass, C., Acosta, C., Adshead, G., and Byrne, G. (2014) Fabrication and induction of illness in children. In Huline-Dickens Sarah, Clinical Topics in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. RPsych Publications

Byrne, G. (2008) The Evocation of Mystery in the Art of Anthony Browne. In Plastow, J. (Ed.) The Story and the Self: Psychoanalysis & Children’s Literature.

Jones, D.P.H., Byrne, G. and Newbold, C. (2000) Management, treatment and outcomes. In Emison, M. and Postlethaite, R.J. (Eds) Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy Abuse Handbook. Butterworth/Heinemann

Byrne, G. (1999) Child Psychotherapy. In Stein, S., Stein J. and Haigh, R. (Eds) Essentials of Psychotherapy

Byrne, G. and Jones, D. (1998) Severe Breakdown in the parenting of infants, In Green, J. and Jacobs, B. (Eds) In-patient Child Psychiatry