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Glasgow Psychological Trauma Service – anchor

Who We Are

The NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Psychological Trauma Service (GPTS) is a tertiary level specialist mental health service which offers multi disciplinary, psychologically informed interventions to clients who present with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) following experiences of complex trauma. This is a multidisciplinary service including Clinical Psychology, Occupational Therapy and Art Psychotherapy and a Mental Health Practitioner.  The GPTS is led by Dr Lisa Reynolds, Consultant Clinical Psychologist.

How to Contact Us


The Anchor
Festival Business Centre
150 Brand Street
G51 1DH

Referral Criteria and How to Refer

People aged 16 and over (and unaccompanied asylum seeking children who are under 16 years) and:

  • Who live in Greater Glasgow and Clyde;
  • Who have a history of complex trauma (that is repeated interpersonal trauma, including  violence, abuse or neglect); 
  • That has led to CPTSD including symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mood and emotion regulation difficulties and changes to people’s beliefs about themselves and the world. PTSD symptoms include: re-experiencing the traumatic event(s); avoidance of trauma related stimuli; trauma related arousal and reactivity; negative thoughts and feelings; or,
  • Other mental health difficulties that are severe and disabling responses to trauma (e.g. complicated dissociative disorders, mutism, enduring personality change after catastrophic events etc.).

The service prioritises people who experience additional social inequalities or barriers to accessing health care such as those who are homeless or leaving care; asylum seekers and refugees who are victims of torture and organised violence; trafficking victims for all forms of exploitation; vulnerable female offenders.

Please note, the GPTS is not an emergency service (open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm), therefore cannot accept urgent referrals. If the individual requires more urgent input, please refer to the person’s local CMHT/Crisis service. If unsure, we have a duty system which operates daily.  Please feel free to discuss any queries or concerns with us.

The service prioritises people who experience additional social inequalities or barriers to accessing health care:

  • people who have experienced, or are at risk of, homelessness and those leaving care;
  • asylum seekers and refugees who are victims of torture and organised violence;
  • trafficking victims for all forms of exploitation;
  • unaccompanied asylum seeking children and trafficked children who are under 16;
  • vulnerable female offenders, with a history of complex trauma; and
  • survivors of child sexual abuse and sexual assault who present with CPTSD and have additional levels of complexity e.g. severe dissociation, complex co- morbid difficulties etc.

At the Glasgow Psychological Trauma Service we consider the difficulties a person is presenting with now to be more important than details of the trauma a person has experienced in the past when we are making decisions about who is suitable for our service.

More Information

How Can I Refer to the Service?

The Glasgow Psychological Trauma Service accepts referrals from GPs, Mental Health Teams, Social Workers, Community Addiction Teams and Third Sector Organisations.

If you would like to refer to the service, or are considering doing so, you are welcome to telephone us to discuss this. There is always a Duty Worker available for consultation. Should you wish to be referred to the service please discuss this with you GP or other services you are involved with.

Following Referral

Following referral, there will be a team discussion to ensure the client meets our criteria and that it appears the right time for the client to engage in assessment and potential intervention. The client will then be invited for assessment which will take place over one or more sessions.

Following assessment it may be that the client will be found to be not suitable for our service at this time. It may be that another service will be more suitable or that it is simply not the best time for the client to be starting trauma focused psychological therapy. The reasons for this decision will be explained and advice about other options given.

If we decide that the client is suitable for our service, we will explain what the treatment plan will be and what the client can expect from our service. We make every effort to see people as quickly as possible but please note that there is likely to be another wait before starting treatment.

Further Information

What is Complex Trauma?

A trauma can be an event or experience that is deeply distressing to someone. Often this can affect the way someone thinks, feels and behaves. It can also cause bodily reactions such as insomnia and tension. In many cases, traumatic events can impact on relationships with others.

Examples of traumatic events are below:

  • Death
  • Road traffic accident
  • Fire
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Physical assault
  • Loss
  • Witnessing a traumatic event
  • Natural disaster

The types of trauma listed above are single, discrete events that can occur suddenly and without warning. If it is a single, one-off, unexpected event, it is called at Type 1 Trauma.

Some types of trauma can occur on multiple occasions and over a longer period of time. The person may anticipate what is going to happen but be unable to do anything about it. If the trauma happens on multiple occasions, it is called Type 2 Trauma. Many Type 2 Traumas can involve people known to us, family members and people who we love.

Below are some examples of Type 2 Trauma:

  • Domestic violence
  • Childhood abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, neglect)
  • Torture

Complex trauma can be defined as long-term, interpersonal abuse, occurring on multiple occasions and often beginning early in life (Herman, 1997).

What are PTSD and Complex PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Many people can develop PTSD after a traumatic experience. Some of the symptoms include the person having dreams or unwanted pictures or images of the trauma coming into their mind (often called flashbacks). They may feel like the trauma is happening again and experience the same sensations and distress. They may find that they try to avoid all things that are related to the trauma. This may include not talking about the trauma or avoiding people or places that remind them of the trauma. Other symptoms include jumpiness, feeling irritable and difficulties sleeping. Many people also experience mood difficulties such as anxiety, depression or anger.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)

CPTSD can develop after multiple experiences of trauma. A person with CPTSD has many of the symptoms of PTSD. They also have the following difficulties:

  • Finding it hard to understand or manage emotions which can be overwhelming and frightening at times;
  • Finding relationships difficult to manage and feeling that other people can be difficult, hurtful or dangerous; and
  • Feeling bad about themselves often feeling ashamed or to blame for what has happened.

Traumatic events may produce feelings of fear, loss, abandonment and isolation. These feelings can affect mood. Because trauma is often associated with danger and vulnerability, some people may experience symptoms of anxiety (e.g. shakiness, trembling, tension, palpitations, and dizziness).

Complex Trauma often produces feelings of fear, sadness and despair that can be difficult to manage and control. Often these feelings start suddenly and become very powerful, often overwhelming. Sometimes people report that the only way they can cope or find any relief is through drugs and alcohol or other forms of self harm.

Our early experiences of care can often affect how we feel about ourselves and impact on the relationships we form with other people. People who experience abuse in what is meant to be a caring relationship can often feel that it is their fault and think badly about themselves. They may also believe that all relationships will be similar and accept this or believe that it is better to be alone. Some people report that experiencing one traumatic event after another can make them feel powerless and helpless and there is no point trying to get help because there is nothing they can do.

Complex trauma can affect people physically. This is because traumatic events normally trigger biological reactions. Symptoms may include insomnia, concentration difficulties, muscular aches and pain, tiredness, palpitations, headaches and stomach problems. In some cases people may be diagnosed with physical difficulties, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, migraines or pain.

Who Works at the Glasgow Psychological Trauma Service?

The Glasgow Psychological Trauma Service has a range of different health professionals who work together to contribute their different skills and experience. We offer a range of different assessment and treatment options for complex trauma.  Treatment can be individually or in groups and service user preferences and needs are taken into account when planning treatment.

 Treatments offered will vary but they include:

  • Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT);
  • Eye Movement Desensitisation Therapy (EMDR);
  • Narrative Exposure Therapist (NET);
  • Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT);
  • Art Psychotherapy;
  • Occupational Therapy;
  • Safety and Stabilisation groups; and,
  • Activity Based groups.

Allied Health Professionals at GPTS:

Clinical Psychologists

Are trained to help people to understand and cope with difficult emotions, thoughts and behaviours. They talk with people about their lives and help them find a way to move forward with their difficulties. Clinical Psychologists do not prescribe medication but they focus on helping people look at the reasons behind the way they are feeling. The Clinical Psychologists in this team have particular knowledge and experience of working with difficulties relating to complex trauma.

Art Psychotherapists

Offers the opportunity to express and explore difficult feelings through the use of art materials and art making. Art psychotherapy can be particularly helpful to people who find it hard to express their thoughts and feelings in words or for those who find relationships difficult.

Occupational Therapist

Works with service users to help them identify and engage in valued and meaningful activity in order to enhance health and well being.

Mental Health Practitioner

Have a background in nursing or occupational therapy and are trained to help people understand and deal with their mental health. Mental Health Practitioners will work with individuals to help them see links between their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and explore ways to make helpful changes.

Medical Secretaries/Receptionist

Answer the telephone, take messages if a staff member is out of the office, type letters and keep all of our paperwork up to date. They will be who you will most likely speak to first if/when you phone our team.

Consultations and Visits

We offer regular Consultation Meetings which workers can book into to discuss complex cases. 

We also offer Open Afternoons where workers can come to the service to find out more about what we offer.