Services and interventions


Oxford Health Complex Needs Service (CNS) runs a range of therapeutic services for people with long term emotional difficulties, trouble coping, or mental health difficulties sometimes described as ‘personality disorder’ or ‘complex needs’.

Once referred, patients are invited to attend an information session/engagement group. Following attendance at this group, you will be asked whether you would like to proceed to individual assessment. This is a chance to discuss your background and difficulties, and to talk about the therapy in more detail. Once the appropriate approach has been agreed, and if the CNS is the best service to provide treatment, one of the following interventions will be offered.

Low intensity treatment.

Mentalisation based therapy group. This is a group for those who would benefit from training and experience in mentalisation. This is the understanding of how our own and other people’s behaviour arises from thoughts, feelings and wishes (known as mental states). It is linked to empathy. People who struggle with mentalisation might misinterpret other people’s behaviours and intentions, which can in turn lead to strong emotions and impulsive or withdrawn behaviours. The groups meet weekly in Oxford, Banbury and Aylesbury, run for 10 weeks, and are fairly structured (having clear tasks and agendas for each stage of the group).

OPTIONS/GETTING READY GROUPS. These are weekly groups meeting around the two counties. Click on the Options Group link for further information.

Medium and High intensity treatment.

Therapeutic community. These are the most intensive and long term of the treatments we provide. Prior to joining a therapeutic community you will need to be a member of an Options group/Getting ready group for at least a month to help you prepare. Follow the links for more information on Therapeutic Community and Options Groups.

Why Groups?

Although some individual work may be undertaken initially in preparation for one of the groups, and some people are seen individually while they settle into a group, all substantial therapy in the service is group based. This is because current evidence points to interventions involving groups being most effective in personality disorder. Many of the people referred to CNS have received individual therapy, sometimes over several years, without substantial effect, but if this is not the case and you do not want to engage in group treatment you should talk to a professional about being referred for individual therapy at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, or refer yourself to Talking Space, an NHS organisation that provides talking treatments in Oxfordshire, or Healthy Minds, which is the Buckinghamshire equivalent.