About Ashburn Clinic

Ashburn Clinic works in partnership with people with mental health and addiction difficulties to improve their well-being and quality of life. Our team of experienced clinical professionals has a long history of successfully treating mental health challenges and continues to provide expert care.

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About Ashburn Clinic

Ashburn Clinic is a not-for-profit therapeutic community and psychiatric hospital in Dunedin, offering a professional and supportive environment for diagnosis, treatment and recovery from mental illness and addictions. Established in 1882 as an alternative to state hospital care, Ashburn now operates as a therapeutic community, providing funded and private residential services. People come from all over New Zealand to access care here; patients must be at least 17 years of age to join us.

Located in a beautiful setting on the outskirts of Dunedin, Ashburn has established a physical and social environment where support and self-discovery thrive.

Ashburn offers comprehensive psychiatric and psychotherapeutic residential treatment, individually and in group settings, as well as expert pharmacological treatment where necessary. The Ashburn programme contains specialist groups for specific problems, eg. addiction, eating disorders, as well as common elements for all patients to participate in, such as therapy groups and community activities.

We employ psychiatrists, psychotherapists, nurses, occupational therapists, mental health workers, general practitioners, a dietitian and support staff, and we’re recognised nationally for our specialised, professional treatment encouraging people from all walks of life on to a path of recovery.

Ashburn Clinic maintains Ministry of Health certification (Section 26 of the Health and Disability Services (Safety) Act 2001), and MPI Food Safety certification (Food Act 2014).

Ashburn Clinic is a strictly drug and alcohol-free site, and has a smoke-free policy.

“Ashburn is about looking at who you are, working through the past, changing, and being supported to move on.”

– A Former Patient

Ashburn Clinic

What Should You Know?

Ashburn offers a professional and supportive environment for diagnosis, treatment and recovery from mental illness and addictions. For more information, visit our frequently asked questions.

The Therapeutic Community is the core of Ashburn Clinic providing a unique service. It is an inpatient group-based programme for people aged 17 years or older with conditions such as personality disorders, anxiety and mood disorders, trauma-related conditions, eating disorders, addictions and co-existing problems. Health professionals with mental health and addiction problems are also treated in the Therapeutic Community.

The main therapeutic programme utilises a structured day, with an emphasis on group meetings of various kinds. Within the Ashburn Clinic community, patients enact their familiar ways of relating to other people, which is then explored through processes such as group work. Through being able to understand and communicate to others the reasons for the development of their own difficulties, patients will be better able to cope with the necessary effort and pain which characterises major personal change. The Ashburn Clinic community concentrates on the meaning of each person’s feelings, actions and relationships, so changes in understanding and behaviour can be made. Staff’s own participation in the community will ensure that as far as possible the community is an environment which enables open, honest and effective communication. Effort is made in the assessment process to understand a person’s underlying developmental deficits and to formulate these deficits psychodynamically.

Ashburn offers various types of assistance, from inpatient to outpatient care, as well as community-based services.   

We specialise in helping those with addiction challenges, anxiety, depression and mood disorders, eating disorders, sexual abuse, personality disorders, trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Our Goals

  • To enable patients to learn more about their problems and difficulties, thereby increasing their ability to affect change.
  • To encourage personal responsibility for the patient’s own behaviour and situation.
  • To assist patients to live successfully in the outside world without resorting to unhelpful and unhealthy behaviour patterns, particularly when faced with stressful or difficult situations.

Our Values

  • We recognise the individuality of all, taking into account the whole person and their significant others.
  • We respect cultural and spiritual dimensions and acknowledge the partnership with tangata whenua by honouring the spirit and the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • We accept into our care those people we believe can be helped within our services.
  • We provide a comprehensive treatment approach to enable patients to achieve a better quality of life.

Referrals to Ashburn Clinic must be made through a medical professional, such as a GP or Psychiatrist, in the first instance. All referrals are then discussed by our Admissions Team and assessed for suitability. 

Our Facilities & Staff

Inpatient Unit

Gwen Wilson & Frank Hay Units

These two units are residential care facilities for inpatients with 24-hour nursing care and clinical support. Each patient has their own bedroom and participates in the appropriate programme for their needs. As well as medical support, therapeutic services are provided by nurses, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, occupational therapists and a dietitian. Access to community facilities includes a full food service, IT, recreational pursuits and extensive grounds.

Alexander House

Alexander House provides an independent living environment with full access to the therapeutic community and programme. Each patient has their own bedroom and takes responsibility for the running of the house (more like a flatting situation). Patients are supported by staff to increase their capability for self-management (inside and outside Ashburn) and plan for discharge. Entry to Alexander House is usually as a transfer from the inpatient unit, but on some occasions a direct admission may be considered. 

Clinic Grounds

Not only are the beautiful grounds at Ashburn therapeutic in themselves, we also have a gym, outdoor tennis court and trampoline, and some lovely open spaces such as a dell, and a former orchard. We also have our very own "Warm House", which was built especially for us and provides a magical space for reflection and thoughtfulness.  

Our Staff

Board of Directors:
Clive Matthewson, Chairman
Iris Reuvecamp, Trustee
John Adams, Trustee
Barbara Payton, Trustee

Leadership Team:
Brett Ferguson, Medical Director
Monique Lammers, Director of Nursing & Allied Health
Annabel Millichamp, Quality Director
Ian Smith, Deputy Director of Nursing & Allied Health

Consultant Psychiatrists:
Dr Brett Ferguson
Dr Megan Bryan

Registrar & Locum

Psychotherapists:
Clare Greensmith
Cindy Smith
Sascha Scholz
Justine Greig
Joanne Emmens
Hayden Isaac

Charge Nurses:
Joyce Stewart
Lisa Parker

Ashburn Clinic is made up of several buildings, the largest being our inpatient unit where residents live and attend many of the programme groups, and where the majority of our staff are situated.  

We have a gym on-site which doubles as a hall when we require a large space.  James Hume is a multi-function building used for group, office and residential space (if required), and Alexander House is where patients moving towards discharge reside, as it focuses on independent living. Our other buildings include the Medlicott Education Centre which is primarily used for staff meetings and educational seminars.

“The patients and staff have stuck by me as I have been trying to understand myself and my behaviour.”

– A Former Patient

Recent News

Reducing Carbon Emissions

Ashburn Clinic has recently been presented with an award for reducing our carbon emissions by 1,831 tonnes since converting to heating our campus with wood.

Read More »

Waiata

Taku Whakaruru – Nā Paulette Tamati-Ellife i tito mō Ashburn Clinic, 2009©

The Ashburn Clinic waiata, Taku Whakaruru (My Sanctuary), was written by Paulette Tamati-Elliffe in 2009 at the request of Ashburn Clinic. It is sung weekly at Forum by staff and patients and at special community events, often accompanied by staff and patients playing the guitar. 

The song represents the journey that patients may make in coming to Ashburn. The writer addresses the ‘weary bird’, directly acknowledging the difficulties it has experienced and the emotional and physical exhaustion it feels. The weary bird is encouraged to seek shelter and refuge in a place of healing and safety. 

E te manu maninohea
Horotete ana i te piere nuku
Taupua mai kia mahuru ai
Ki taku whakaruru e

Ko te wao nui a Tane
Hai pirika
Hai punaka
Ka whakahauora
Ki taku whakaruru e

Pūawhe ana te hau
Ka ua te āwhā
Taupua mai kia mahuru ai
Ki taku whakaruru e

Ko te wao nui a Tane
Hai pirika
Hai punaka
Ka whakahauora
Ki taku whakaruru e

Weary bird
Exhausted by life’s extreme difficulties
Rest here to gather yourself
In this sanctuary

The great forest of Tane
Provides a safe haven
A place of refuge
To refresh and revive yourself
In this sanctuary

The blustery winds will continue to blow
The storms will continue to torrent
Rest here to gather yourself
In this sanctuary

The great forest of Tane
Provides a safe haven
A place of refuge
To refresh and revive yourself
In this sanctuary

Ashburn Clinic History

In 2012 Ashburn Clinic celebrated its 130th anniversary as New Zealand’s oldest private psychiatric hospital. Ashburn Hall (as it was first known) was established by Dr Edward William Alexander and James Hume in 1882, as a humanitarian alternative to state hospital care of the day (eg. public asylums such as Seacliff). Named after the stream running through the estate, the original stone homestead (designed by William Henry Clayton) was extended to accommodate 40 patient bedrooms and communal living areas. As well as cultivated gardens and natural bush, the property had a stable, farm buildings and grazing for farm animals. The building facilities expanded further in the early 20th century, allowing wider classification of patient illnesses and separation of treatment programmes.

Ashburn admissions have always included male and female patients. Initially patients were privately-funded, however due to changes to health funding in the latter half of the 20th century, treatment became more accessible to a wider range of New Zealanders, establishing the current combination of private and public-funded admissions.

Since its inception, Ashburn Clinic’s treatment approach has been influenced by significant psychiatric practitioners, and innovators for humane mental health care such as Phillipe Pinel, William Tuke, John Conolly and Dr Frederic Truby King, providing medical and ‘moral’ treatment rather than confinement. The therapeutic community principles (a concept which arose in the UK at the end of the Second World War) were introduced to Ashburn Hall by Dr Reginald Medlicott, who was appointed medical superintendent in 1947. Supported by key nursing figures such as Matron Gwen Wilson, patients became actively involved in their recovery and took part in the daily running of the hospital alongside staff, as well as social and recreational activities. Ashburn Clinic continues to operate both as a hospital and therapeutic community.

The 21st century has seen the hospital complete a major programme of redevelopment including an upgrade of its buildings and an expansion of its services. The ownership of Ashburn Hall was consolidated into the Ashburn Hall Charitable Trust in 2001 and formally reopened by the Minister of Health, Annette King, as Ashburn Clinic.

Learn More: The Ashburn Clinic: The Place and the People by Cameron Duder (2007) – available from Ashburn Clinic and the Dunedin Public Library

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