IHWTE: The Institute for the History and Work of Therapeutic Environments (2007)
In 2007 the Planned Environment Therapy Trust joined with the Centre for the History of Medicine at the University of Birmingham to establish the Institute for the History and Work of Therapeutic Environments (IHWTE), a co-operative venture based in the Archive and Study Centre.
Currently relatively quiet in the wake of massive restructuring at the University of Birmingham, the significant transition in the Trust, and the intense demands throughout 2010-2011 of the "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" project, IHWTE opened its public life in September 2007 with a successful inaugural conference designed to consider the future of therapeutic environments using the perspective of past experience. It was entitled "If it works, wreck it...", based on a comment by IHWTE Advisory Committee member Rowdy Yates, of Stirling University; and it brought together almost sixty medical historians, clinicians, students, service users, and representatives of every aspect of therapeutic community from Camphill to addictions, for a day of structured talk and reflection.
The inaugural conference was followed in 2008 by a "I am, They Are, We Will Be", a seminar on sustainability and therapeutic environments organized by IHWTE Fellow Andrea Wheeler and held at Barns Centre; and by considerable support for the creation of the Child Care History Network, which held its inaugural conference "Child Care: The Need for History" at Barns Centre as well.
At the end of 2008, IHWTE Fellow Dimitris Vonofakos of Exeter University was awarded an IHWTE research grant for "Early influences in the work of Wilfred Bion, with a particular focus on his association with John Rickman" (see 2012).
In 2009 IHWTE Fellow Jonathan Toms organised a lively Research Workshop entitled "Therapeutic Community, the Archive and Historical Research", hosted by the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick. The three papers were given by IHWTE Hon. Director Craig Fees, IHWTE Fellow Jonathan Toms, and IHWTE PhD student Elaine Boyling.
Significant help was given throughout 2009-2010 by IHWTE to the Planned Environment Therapy Trust's successful grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children: An oral history of residential therapeutic child care c. 1930-c.1980". IHWTE Chair Dr. Tom Harrison, and IHWTE Vice-Chair Dr. Jonathan Reinarz, Director of the History of Medicine Unit at the University of Birmingham, served on the project's Assessment, Training and Advisory Group throughout the course of the project; and the two-day project conference was co-organised with and hosted by IHWTE and the History of Medicine Unit at the Medical School in September 2011.
Further in 2011, Elaine Boyling - having been awarded an IHWTE PhD studentship in 2007 to explore the theme of Quakers and therapeutic community through the History of Medicine Unit at the University of Birmingham - successfully defended her PhD. thesis, ‘Quakerism and Therapeutic Environments: dynamic resources in the management of a Therapeutic Community 1962-1995’, and was awarded her doctorate. Her lead supervisor was History of Medicine Unit Director Dr. Jonathan Reinarz, IHWTE Vice-Chair, with Dr. Craig Fees, Archivist for PETT and Hon. Director of IHWTE, as her second supervisor.
IHWTE Fellow Dimitris Vonofakos's 2008 grant, meanwhile, eventuated in an article with PETT Trustee and IHWTE Committee member Prof. Robert Hinshelwood entitled "Wilfred Bion's Letters to John Rickman (1939-1951)" which appeared in the January 2012 issue of Psychoanalysis and History.