by Benjamin Fry
Taking A Step Back
As we approach the 3rd anniversary of opening Khiron House on October 3rd 2014 I have had a wonderful opportunity to step out of the front-line delivery and management for three months over the summer. With some distance from the clinic I have been able to arrive at the opinion that the next phase of Khiron House’s development needs new leadership.
When we started Khiron House, the clinical environment in the UK was largely unfamiliar with the kind of cutting edge therapies which we were using from America. That has begun to change, but in the meantime we were faced with the difficult task of connecting what we were offering with the people who most needed to know about it.
My approach to this was simply to tell my story.
I wrote in some newspapers about my own struggle with PTSD related illness and my difficulties of getting treated by the professions in the UK and expanded this into a narrative account in a book. The reaction to this was somewhat ‘marmite’. It is fair to say that some people found it very useful, while others loathed me for it. Furthermore, the way that we went about marketing the business, which was based on advice about how best to reach individual sufferers, seemed alien to many of our colleagues in the professional communities.
I’m convinced that at first I took the right approach. There are people we have treated who credit Khiron House with saving their lives. They say they would never have known about it without my writing in the press. Also, beyond just the treatment which we could supply, this has been of benefit to others just in terms of information:
Thank you so much for your article in The Mail magazine which I read with such hope. My son has had similar problems and we have been unable to get him any help for years on the NHS.
I read your article in the Telegraph and I thought it was inspirational. It perhaps gives me hope that I will ride out the storm. I can’t afford your services but at least now I know what I’m looking for.
The best description of depression that I’ve read. Raw brutal honesty. And a very inspiring tale of recovery. A must read for anyone who had a traumatic childhood.
However, there has come a point where this way of communicating has hurt the reputation of the clinic too. During the last year I have had very little to do with the clinical delivery, which has been done by some wonderfully talented therapists and individuals. And yet my own activities in the press, and particularly with my book, have given the impression to some of our colleagues in the professions that our organisation is unprofessional:
I am astonished that you think what you are doing is increasing awareness of mental health issues and treatments. In my view, on the contrary, what you are doing is working quite hard to publicise and promote yourself and your service. It is at best disingenuous, and at worst dishonest and unethical to portray what is actually a sales campaign as though it were a public information campaign.
or, more succinctly,
Would you please take your second rate, superficial, self-aggrandising behaviour elsewhere and stop bothering serious professionals.
This may be fair comment on my activities, but it is not an accurate reflection of the excellent clinical work being done by the ‘serious professionals’ at Khiron House. However it does mean that it is important to change the way we do things to enable the best possible outcome for everyone who might need our services.
My Goal In Setting Up Khiron House
When I returned from my own transformational treatment in America, I had two fond wishes; one was to tell people that help was available, and the other was to make that help available. My work at Khiron House was, initially, just a small part of this. I worked with a think tank on a publication on how the NHS could safely and cost-effectively include some of these new modalities and I set up a non-profit organisation to supply that idea.
In the press I wrote about these new techniques which were bringing hope to so many who had previously suffered, like me, without any hope. And out of that impulse to communicate Khiron House itself was born, an article I wrote leading to an offer to help me to establish the clinic. So organically I found myself leading a clinical team while at the same time remaining vocal about my experiences.
The time has come for these two accidental activities to be given a clear sense of distance and boundary from each other. I remain passionate about writing and communicating, particularly from the patient’s perspective. I accept that this now means that I must step down from day-to-day control of Khiron House. I will still manage the company’s affairs and be available to both staff and clients but will not lead the clinical team.
My great fear is that there are people suffering who could recover, with our help, but whose doctors, psychiatrists or therapists would not refer to us because of my activities in the media leading us to be not trusted by them.
My goal was the opposite so it is time to address this problem.
The Future At Khiron House
We are incredibly fortunate that we have been able to recruit to run Khiron House’s operations one of the true veterans of trauma healing from the USA. Our new Executive Director has exceptional credentials both in trauma healing as a clinician and in working at the highest level in a residential setting.
We will be announcing this appointment next week and I hope that you will then share my enthusiasm and excitement. In the meantime, to prepare for this shift in both management and marketing style at Khiron House, I am stepping down from my position as Managing Director with immediate effect. I will continue to write and to communicate in the media in my own name, unconnected with Khiron House.
Next week our new Executive Director will be writing to our mailing list and on our blog by way of introduction. I look forward to the next phase in our development and hope that we can remain a part of helping people to recover their lives for many years to come.
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