For Patients

Anei tātou nā ko te pō, anā tātou nā he rā ki tua  |  Here we are in the night, but day is on the way.

Congratulations on making it this far – finding mental health help isn’t always easy! Learn more about what Ashburn Clinic does, how to join us, what to bring, our daily routines, and treatment.

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Considering Ashburn Clinic?

Learn more about our treatment and therapy.

What is Ashburn Clinic?

We're 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.

We offer comprehensive psychiatric and psychotherapeutic residential treatment, individually and in group settings, as well as pharmacological treatment where necessary.

Another beneficial component of treatment at Ashburn is that patients can utilise a step-down programme whereby they move from inpatient status to an independent living hostel (Alexander House) in preparation for discharge.

Can we help you?

Ashburn's programme is 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.

We also offer specialist groups for challenges including addiction and eating disorders.

We employ psychiatrists, psychotherapists, nurses, occupational therapists, mental health workers, general practitioners, a dietitian and support staff.
Suitability & Pre-Admission Procedures

Why choose a therapeutic community?

Ashburn Clinic is unique as it operates as a therapeutic community which utilises a participative, group-based, recovery approach and focuses on the whole person and overall lifestyle changes. Patients have significant involvement in decision-making and the practicalities of running the units, which are based on ideas of personal and collective responsibility, citizenship and empowerment. Psychodynamic psychotherapy underpins the TC treatment model which originated in the UK, and is accredited by the RPSYCH Community of Communities. This approach is particularly effective for survivors of trauma, people with addictions, eating disorders and personality disorders.

“The treatment at Ashburn works on you gradually – the routine, therapy and community seep into you and lift you up. Ashburn Clinic is not for everyone. To get the most out of it you have to be prepared to give it your all and commit to fully attending groups and engaging with the community.”

– A Former Resident

Patient Experiences

'Don't Give Up!'

I’m not sure who you are, but I really want to write this to you. First of all, well done for getting this far and taking a courageous step to either consider coming to Ashburn, or if you are waiting for admission keep waiting and don’t give up! The first step in your treatment has already started, you’ve made the first move. You rock!

It’s weird to think that something like mental illness can have so much control over our lives right? But there is hope that you can learn to cope with your mental illness no matter how bad it is. Even if there’s only a tiny 1% hope that you’re holding on to, there is still HOPE!

We’re far better than our illness or our unpleasant life experiences which have had a serious impact on our lives. Remember that, because sometimes we don’t remember these things in our most distressing times.

If you’ve experienced being in any psychiatric hospital, then Ashburn is completely different. You don’t know me, but believe me. It was one of the fears I had about coming to Ashburn. We are not acute and have a choice to be here. We are all seeking treatment out of the goodness of our own heart (probably with some support). We are not in a locked unit and the food here is way better than being in hospital. I am not tricking you!

I guess being at Ashburn in what you make of it. The more you put yourself out there, the more you will get out of it. I am not going to lie. It’s hard work! It was a total shock and different to what I was expecting which has motivated me to write this. I survived the initial few weeks and you can too. I found it challenging, leaving my clinical team because they were familiar to me, and they were familiar with me!

The thought of having to repeat my story, AGAIN and form new relationships with professionals was daunting at first. It doesn’t happen overnight and it is not expected to happen overnight.

Coming into a therapeutic group environment was quite difficult. At Ashburn we are referred to as a “community”. I found it quite exposing. For me personally, I was used to keeping things inside or else opening up to one or two professionals over a period of time. Ashburn is a “community of enquiry” so patients will ask you questions. It is daunting at first but not for too long. You really just have to press thought the first few weeks. I am not going to pretend that it’s a walk in the park when you get here because it is not. There were many times I wanted to run away and go home because it was hard. But I am very glad I stayed. Everyone I talked to said they had the same thoughts.

The community share their experiences. I found this hard at first to get used to. IN my head I would think “what, did they really just say that out loud in front of everyone?” I have found it reassuring and valuable to hear other people who have been affected by mental illness experiences. I no longer feel so alone in what I am going through which is an amazing feeling! We all come here for different reasons but the underlying factor that makes it easier to remember we have all been affected by mental illness in some way, shape or form, which has cause enough disruption to come to a place like Ashburn. Using the group is a powerful resource.

In the first few weeks I pretended to be okay in front of clinical staff and the community. I was really only fooling myself and making myself exhausted trying to put on a front. I would go to my bedroom and crumble! Be true to yourself. This is a safe and accepting place.

There will most likely be several moments you will feel like crying or you will cry. But crying is healthy. It is not viewed as weakness. It shows that we have feeling and emotion. You will always have the community’s support. The community although it sounds scary being surrounded by other unwell patients, is actually a really powerful resource and a huge part of your treatment. They pick you up when you are down and have that insight because of their own lived experiences. It’s a welcoming community and I genuinely mean that. If you’re worried about relocating, just remember that everyone here has relocated and moved into a new environment. So again, you’re not alone.

It truly is hard work but it is not impossible. You just can’t give up! There will be numerous times where you’ll probably want to and you’ll feel like being here is the hardest thing on earth, but you know what? You’ve made it this far and you can make this work. You’re not alone. You’re not alone!

Good luck in your treatment whether it is at Ashburn or any other service. You’ve got this!

Stick to it when it gets hard. Ride through the discomfort. Don’t let anything hold you back. You deserve every possible chance to become well again. To come here was the best decision I ever made. Recognise the discomfort, sit through it and then push through it.

If you’ve had long term involvement with a local clinical team then try and conclude that in a way that is meaningful to you.

I am only 2 months into my treatment and I feel like I am making so much progress already.

I truly value and respect Ashburn! It just takes a while to settle in. You’ll have your bad days and your good days but in your bad days you are fully supported, if you let yourself be supported.

I am not writing this to sell Ashburn to you. I am writing this because I genuinely feel that it would have been so easy for me to give up on my treatment in the early days because I didn’t have any insight into what being part of a therapeutic community looked and felt like.

Good luck!

– Former Ashburn Clinic Resident

What Makes Ashburn Different?

From my experience, the therapeutic community here at Ashburn focuses on treating the whole person and not just the surface presenting symptoms or maladaptive coping strategies. This means that the focus is on looking at things like underlying trauma, feelings and emotions and using the support of the groups and individual therapy to work through the often-painful things that have brought patients to Ashburn Clinic.

I have observed that Ashburn uses a very holistic approach to treating mental health difficulties and patients work together to problem solve and make decisions about treatment. An example of this that I have noticed is when reviewing a patient’s observation status, patients have a say as well as staff as to whether a patient comes off or stay on observation. It is a decision that is made as a community and I believe this sets Ashburn aside from other treatment centres.

As chairperson, I have the very important role of chairing meetings where patients work together to understand behaviour and to challenge each other. This creates a culture of enquiry in which patients are able to engage in and be a part of each other’s healing in a very unique way. Often this can seem upon arrival to be confronting but it is a part of a community approach to helping understand behaviours and thought patterns.

Being a part of this community has been a very unique experience and one that has benefited my treatment in more ways than one. I feel honoured to be able to work alongside so many others who are also working through difficult emotions, feelings and experiences. I have learned so much from other patients and the similar experiences and feelings we share. Learning and working together to heal is how I believe the therapeutic community works best and what is different about Ashburn compared to other treatment centres I have been in.

In my time here, I have been able to work through a lot of very painful experiences, thoughts and feelings in both a group setting and in individual therapy and talking one on one with other patients. Sometimes the connections you make in a casual setting outside of groups can be just as healing as the therapeutic program that is offered through the day as you make connections with people who all have similar experiences and feelings.

This approach has helped me understand myself and my behaviours more deeply and I believe this has led to the changes I have made in my life in both my thinking and
behaviours. I owe my life to this therapeutic community and am so honoured to be a part of something so unique and so healing.

– Former Ashburn Clinic Resident

Coming to Ashburn?

If your admission has been confirmed, there are probably a few things you’d like to know…like, do I need a towel? View our Welcome Booklet for additional information.

“Although Ashburn is not for everyone and is a challenging place to come – I would recommend Ashburn Clinic based on my personal experience and progress.”

– A Former Resident

Getting Started

Consider bringing things that will make your stay feel a bit more like home. Your bedroom will be your own personal space, so bring your favourite things such as photos, books, a beloved coffee mug, art supplies etc, to make you feel more comfortable. There is a lockable drawer in your bedroom for the safekeeping of valuable items however we encourage you to arrange your own cover for contents insurance while you stay with us.  

Don’t forget to pack:

  • Clothing for both hot and cold weather (our weather can be variable!)
  • Sports and walking shoes
  • Gym gear (we have a basic gym on-site)
  • Toiletries and personal medications
  • Pajamas, robe and slippers
  • Snack foods that you love
  • Washing powder (can also be purchased at your convenience from our patient-run canteen)
  • Drink bottle
  • Laptop/tablet, phone, plus chargers
  • Musical instrument (if you play one)
  • Your own bedding, if desired (single/king single)

We supply:

  • Bedding
  • Towels
  • Clothes hangers
  • Meals
Click here to download a pre-arrival checklist.

Both our inpatient unit and Alexander House have their own kitchens, bathrooms and occupational therapy rooms. There are lounges and common meeting places for general use. Bedding and linen are provided, as is a full meal service. We also provide laundry facilities, communal lounges and kitchen, a library, and outdoor relaxation areas. You can also get cash out on-site through the EFTPOS facility at Reception (weekdays only). 

The Clinic is also home to exceptional birdlife! 

Heating: there is central heating throughout the Clinic. Free-standing heaters and electric blankets are not used due to the risk of fire.

Recreation: alongside our main building is our recreation hall which is equipped for a variety of indoor games, including volleyball, badminton, netball and indoor bowls. Next to this is an outdoor tennis court. A patients’ library room, an historic billiard room, TV lounges, and a visitors’ lounge are also available.

Canteen: patients run a canteen where you can purchase snack foods and washing powder.

Ashburn Clinic is a 10 minute drive from the city centre. We’re within walking distance of a bus stop and a dairy in the nearby Wakari neighborhood. 

Click here to view a map of our location.

Our location does pose some challenges, especially when it comes to weather and telecommunications! There’s not much we can do about the weather, but we do have some tips for maintaining contact with the outside world (see WiFi, Phone & Email).

We encourage you to keep in touch with your whānau and support people, and contact them directly to let them know how you are doing. So, it’s good to bring your phone or other device to make this happen. We also provide a variety of communication options on-site.

Mobile coverage: due to our location mobile coverage can be challenging! We recommend using a 2degrees SIM card while at Ashburn, as there is limited 2degrees mobile coverage here. 2degrees also offers WiFi calling for compatible mobile devices, which means you can make and receive calls over WiFi if there is no mobile coverage. There is also limited mobile coverage with Vodafone (no WiFi calling).

WiFi: we have a reliable WiFi network available for residents to use. The network covers most of the indoor resident areas.  

Phone booth: patients have their very own phone booth. Local and 0800 calls are free of charge; Kia Ora phone cards for toll calls are available for purchase on-site. The booth has a dedicated phone number which you are welcome to give to friends and family.  

PCs: there are dedicated PCs in our inpatient unit for patients to use. These are internet-capable and are kitted out with audio and video components to enable video calling.

First steps can be really challenging, but you’re not alone.

Your First Day

The moment you walk in the door you’ll meet our Receptionist who will sit with you to take down some general contact details. After that, you’ll be met by a nurse who’ll take you and your luggage to your own, private room. You will generally have brought your own medication with you to start with, and we’ll ask for this so we can manage administering it.

There is usually an opportunity to grab a cuppa, and then the nurse will get started on the admission paperwork, which can take a little while as they get to know you and your goals while here at Ashburn. They’ll take a photo of you, and give your nominated contact person a call to let them know you’ve arrived safe and sound. They’ll also take your height and weight measurements, along with other vitals such as blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration, O2 stats etc. Your first day may also include a GP appointment on-site.

We’ll introduce you to your “buddy” as soon as he or she is available, and that person will take you to the dining room for meals, give you a tour of the buildings and grounds, and can answer any questions you may have.

In amongst all of this you will also have an admission appointment with a Psychiatrist, so they can get a full understanding of your illness and determine a diagnosis to enable a treatment plan to be decided upon. New patients are also put under observation, and the frequency and length of these will be determined at this appointment.

Settling In

New patients typically do not fully immerse themselves in the therapeutic community programme right away. You will most likely attend a patient handover at 4.30 pm, and from there join a less-intense version of the TC programme the next day, as we ease you in to community life. Once you get going in the programme you’ll find that weekdays at Ashburn consist of both down time, therapeutic groups and individual therapy.

A typical day starts with a Unit Meeting at 8.50 am where you and your unit have the chance to discuss and gain support around personal struggles and wider issues.

Following morning tea the second, usually smaller group, begins around 10.35 am. These groups consist of either further opportunity to talk about how you’re going, or alternatively a music and art therapy group.

After some post-lunch down time a larger Community Meeting occurs twice a week where all units and staff get together to discuss issues that the whole community need to know about or may be able to help with. On alternative days Monday includes a unit level weekly goal setting group and weekend planning occurs on Friday.

Aside from these structured groups the weekdays include other commitments such as joining committees that help run essential aspects of Ashburn. Some examples include cultural, environmental, recreation and canteen committee. Alongside committees, jobs are divided out between residents to help with the running of Ashburn. These jobs are tailored to your ability and include things such as dishes, housekeeping chores and other small tasks. You also attend individual psychotherapy one-two times a week and may meet with your psychiatrist every few weeks. Other appointments may include GP or dietitian appointments on site. Notably, the substance abuse group and the eating disorder program consist of extra elements and an added weekly small group.

Importantly, down time on the weekdays and weekends can be utilised in part to connect with the other residents at Ashburn. 

Ashburn works largely on the principle that those you live with are vital in supporting you with your recovery, and alternatively, you are a vital element in supporting others with theirs.

Beginning Therapy

Your place at Ashburn is part of a much bigger picture – that of the therapeutic community and what is known as “talk therapy”. While you work on YOU, you also play a part in the lives of others here at Ashburn. Group therapy helps you to learn more about your problems and difficulties, increasing your ability to affect change, encouraging personal responsibility for your own behaviour and situation, and assisting you to live successfully in the outside world without resorting to unhelpful and unhealthy behaviour patterns, particularly when faced with stressful or difficult situations.

Programme Schedule

Click here to view the therapeutic programme at Ashburn Clinic (subject to change). 
Please note that this is the entire programme and you may not participate in all of it as it will be tailored to your treatment.

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