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About Us

Who we are

We are a group of professionals, trainees, volunteers, experts by experience and others with an interest in the psycho-dynamic understanding of offending and its treatment. The IAFP brings together professionals from many countries, services and agencies who are involved in the development and the application of the psychotherapeutic understanding and treatment of offenders. 



Many who join the IAFP are psychotherapists, psychiatrists and psychologists, although our members also include group therapists, arts therapists, social workers, nurses and lawyers, as well as service users. We share an interest in studying the emotional, social and familial difficulties that offenders face, and in helping to reduce the risks they pose to themselves and others. We encourage members to become involved in research projects, conference presentations and other related academic activities.  We are keen to foster opportunities for sharing knowledge and expertise in the field. Our members come from the UK, Austria, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden and the USA but we are always keen to develop our international base.

Membership of the IAFP is open to anyone over the age of 18 with an interest in the field of forensic psychotherapy.  All disciplines are very welcome to join, as are managers, commissioners and policy makers. 


The benefits of membership include:


  • A discount for event, conference and workshop fees

  • Subscription to the IAFP journal (IJFP) - starting July 2019

  • The possibility of submitting and peer-reviewing papers

  • Access to resources and publications

  • The opportunity to be elected to the board

  • Networking opportunities with other members of the community


Every member is welcome to take part in the activities of the IAFP, and to contribute to the development of forensic psychotherapy worldwide.  


Details about how to join can be found here.

Our Events

Each year we hold an international conference on a theme relevant to forensic psychotherapy, such as the clinical challenges of treatment, the organisational processes that can impact upon therapy, and the sometimes complex social and political attitudes that exist towards offenders.  In the past, we have held conferences in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA. We also run local One-Day Seminars on these themes throughout the year, as well as sponsoring and supporting other joint events.

To date, the IAFP has held 28 international conferences, and various seminars


What is Forensic Psychotherapy?

Forensic Psychotherapy is a term that has both a specific and a general meaning.  Specifically, the term refers to the application of psychoanalytically-informed conceptual and clinical models both to the treatment of offender patients and to the understanding of organisations that carry out this work on behalf of wider society. More generally, the term refers to all psychotherapeutic interventions with patients or clients whose principle way of communicating is by means of violent enactments against themselves or others. 


The IAFP encourages and supports research and new developments in the psychodynamically-oriented treatment of offenders and in the continuing professional development of forensic mental health workers.


We particularly believe in the importance of supporting staff in carrying out this difficult work.  We also actively try to encourage employing organisations to provide regular opportunities for clinical supervision and reflective practice.

A high proportion of offenders suffer from a mental disorder, and are detained in secure settings within the prison or healthcare systems for prolonged periods. It is important that staff working with offenders, are supported, so training, clinical supervision and reflective practice form part of our practice. Likewise, we are interested in understanding the organisational processes that can impact upon treatment, sometimes negatively.

In the field of forensic psychotherapy, we also interact with the criminal justice system at all levels and stages, as well as the sometimes complex social and political attitudes to offenders and their victims.


The International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy was formed in June 1991 in Leuven, Belgium at a meeting held during the 17th International Congress on Law and Mental Health. The formation of the IAFP was based upon the true roots of psychoanalytic psychotherapy with offenders, which started at the Portman Clinic in London with its foundation over 70 years ago.


The original group of members decided to meet regularly to discuss the difficulties encountered daily in their work of treating patients, influencing policy development, and working with different organisations as well as with colleagues from a variety of professions. 

The first President of the IAFP, Estela Welldon, and her colleagues were a small group of European psychiatrists trained in analytic psychotherapy and working within forensic settings. They decided to meet regularly to discuss the difficulties encountered daily in their work in terms of the treatment of patients, policy making and working with colleagues from other disciplines. The organisation grew from this small body into an international society with members from all disciplines.


From these beginnings, the IAFP grew into an international body with members from many disciplines and many countries. The organisation celebrated its 25th anniversary by returning to Belgium for its 2016 annual conference in Ghent.

In 2013, the IAFP became a registered limited company through Companies House. Company Number 8789169


In 2017, the IAFP registered as a charity, Registered Charity Number 1165137

Please read our full constitution here.

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