Treatment Options

Our treatment services range from inpatient residential care to outpatient appointments and community-based services.

Learn more below about what we do and the disorders that our team treat.

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What Do We Treat?

These are some examples of the issues that people that come to Ashburn to get help with. Often people experience more than one of these issues at the same time, and our treatment approach is designed to address these needs.


“Addiction is giving up everything for ONE THING. Recovery is giving up one thing for EVERYTHING”.

Our addiction programme runs for eight weeks with each week covering a different, but inter-related, theme. It is embedded within the general programme, and the therapeutic community provides plenty of experiences to put new learning into practice. The therapeutic community also acts to support your recovery and members will ask you to be honest and accountable (see handout on therapeutic community). As a rolling programme, new entrants join the established group at the week that the group have reached.

We can help you to address all addictive behaviours, to understand what drives them, and to practice new coping strategies and ways of relating to self and others.

Our Addiction Programme is an abstinence-based, intensive eight week programme that follows an initial detoxification (if required) and a two week assessment phase. However, if you require a longer-term treatment, this is also a focus of the wider Therapeutic Programme.

The programme includes specific educational and experiential sessions with a focus on recovery issues. Because it is inter-linked with the main therapeutic community programme it allows both a depth of exploration and understanding about oneself, as well as opportunities to practice newly-learnt skills including assertive communication and expression of feelings.

Anxiety Disorders

We all feel anxious at some time in our lives, usually when we are faced with challenging or stressful events, and the emotional turmoil and fear, plus the associated physical sensations of increased pulse, sweating, flushing and over-breathing, can be very uncomfortable.

You may be experiencing anxiety or stress to such an extent that it is disrupting your normal life and affecting your ability to live well. This could be showing itself through irritability, insecurity, agitation, disturbed sleep, tiredness or weight loss. You might have problems concentrating and in performing tasks which previously you could do easily.

You may experience severe panic episodes, which can be very distressing. Or, you may suffer from phobic anxiety, where the fear surrounding a particular situation or object leads you to avoid any possibility of contact with the trigger, often causing you to place limitations on how you live your life. If you demonstrate obsessive-compulsive behaviour you seek to keep anxious or unwanted thoughts away by creating repetitive rituals, often involving checking or cleaning.

We can help by working with you to thoroughly assess your anxiety, and to find ways to regain your normal life. We may use medication to help in the short or long term, and we will also help you explore your personal development and your relationships, and how they may be contributing to your anxiety disorder. These psychological understandings may help you find new ways of relating to yourself and to others, which reduce your anxiety.

One in five of us will become depressed at some stage in our lives, as depression is one of the most common manifestations of mental distress. You may have relatively mild symptoms, where you are able to struggle on with your normal life and relationships although your quality of life suffers. Or, with severe depression, your ability to function in any normal way is completely undermined. The symptoms you may be experiencing include feelings of sadness, lack of energy, loss of enjoyment in life, decreased interest in the normal functions of living such as food and sex, and difficulty in sleeping. You may find it hard to concentrate, or have difficulty in making decisions or performing your usual tasks at home and work. If you suffer from bipolar disorder you have periods of severe depression such as described above, but also periods of elevated mood where it may seem to other people you are ‘speeding-up’. You might think and talk quickly, jump from idea to idea, and have excessive energy which prevents you from sleeping. Because during this ‘high period’ you may behave recklessly or go on spending sprees, there is potential for conflict with your family and friends. Depression can distort your judgment and this, together with gloomy thinking, can lead to suicidal thoughts. And, because anxiety, agitation and irritability are part of the picture when you suffer from depression, it can take a toll on close relationships. All these things may make it difficult even to take the first step to seek help, but by taking that step you begin a journey towards well-being and recovery of quality of life.
We can help by offering you the support you need to better understand the underlying issues that are contributing to your depression, and help you to improve in your mood and in your overall quality of life. Mostly treatment will be through individual and group psychotherapy, but we also offer medication, when appropriate, to help deal with the symptoms of depression.
Eating Disorders

For many of us, how we look and our physical appearance matters a lot.  But if you suffer from an eating disorder then your preoccupation with your body shape and weight has become extreme.

Your relationship with food will also have become problematic as you seek to control your food intake or punish yourself for over-indulgence.

If you feel compelled to restrict your food or exercise obsessively in order to become thinner and thinner, all the while believing yourself to be overweight, then you are suffering from anorexia nervosa.  Over time this self-starvation causes extensive physical damage to your body, which can cause total collapse of your system and potentially may be fatal.

If you suffer from bulimia nervosa you are locked in a repetitive unhealthy relationship with food, where a cycle of binge eating is followed by purging (either through vomiting, using laxatives, etc).  You may be a normal weight, but often you feel ashamed and guilty about your bingeing and purging and try to keep it hidden.  The cycle of bingeing and purging leads to body electrolyte disturbances, which in extreme situations can become life-threatening.

It requires a great deal of courage and hard work to break free from destructive eating patterns, and to work through the underlying causes of such behaviours.

We can help by providing you with an established and well-respected treatment programme for eating disorders, which addresses the disordered thoughts and behaviours as well as the emotional and psychological issues that underlie them.  This takes place within the supportive therapeutic community environment necessary for long-lasting recovery to take place.

Our Eating Disorder Programme focuses on the treatment of people with a primary eating disorder diagnosis and offers specific input to help patients address issues related to their eating disorder. The programme runs in conjunction with the main Therapeutic Programme and utilises community activities and experiences to help patients gain greater understanding of the issues underlying their disorder.

Patients also participate in individual therapy with a psychiatrist and/or psychotherapist, and access additional assessment and treatment as required through the GP and dietitian. As needed, defined protocols guide meals, activity levels and weight restoration. The clinical and kitchen staff work together to ensure the dietary needs of each patient are met.

Life Crises

Generally, crises in our lives cause emotional pain and distress but can be lived through with support from others - and learned from. However, a crisis can overwhelm our usual coping abilities and support systems. If this happens, we can often experience disturbed sleep, changeable moods, difficulty eating, and difficulty thinking and focusing on our day-to-day tasks. We might find ourselves using drugs or alcohol to try to cope, and these can become additional problems. Sometimes we can have quite extreme responses, and find ourselves thinking, feeling and behaving in ways which feel out of character for us.

Sometimes a life crisis can trigger an episode of major mental illness. Sometimes what we need is simply some time and additional support in order to regain our usual coping ability. And sometimes we may need treatment for an addiction or an episode of mental illness. We may need to take time to think more deeply about how we have responded to a particular life crisis, and to explore what made us more vulnerable, so that the crisis can be learned from as well as mastered.

We can help by assessing your situation with you and deciding with you what kind of help you need. We can offer support to regain your usual coping ability, we can offer treatment for addictions or illnesses, and we can offer the opportunity to explore more deeply the crisis and your response to it.

Personality Disorders

We all have characteristic patterns of relating to other people, and dealing with our emotions. This is what is referred to as our personality, and it is very much shaped by our early life experiences. However, sometimes these patterns of behaviour can cause major problems in our relationships, or interfere with our ability to function well at work or in social situations.

It can cause considerable distress if your intimate relationships keep failing, or you continually come into conflict with co-workers, or you repeatedly experience any other similarly negative event. This can result in feelings of hurt, loneliness, anger and unhappiness, as well as problems with low self-esteem. These in turn may further impact on your ability to function, and lead to serious emotional turmoil.

Often, it can be the people around us who are more likely to recognise the unhelpful nature of our behaviour patterns, as they are exposed to them again and again.

We can help by assisting you to come to an understanding of the various repeating behavioural patterns that interfere with you being able to develop and maintain healthy, satisfying relationships. Once you can understand your behaviours, then through the help and support of others in the therapeutic community you will have the opportunity to choose to use different behavioural responses which facilitate closer and more meaningful relationships with others.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Experiencing or witnessing a horrifying or traumatic event of any sort can have a lasting impact on our lives. Although it initially may seem as if we have managed the impact well, a delayed reaction can be triggered months or even years later by something which is a powerful reminder of the original traumatic event.

If you have been through a terrifying event you may continue to suffer intense distress long after the actual event is over. Recurrent thoughts or images associated with the event may also invade your mind, so you find yourself continuously reliving the pain and distress. Other situations or activities may come to trigger painful memories and you may try to avoid those situations or activities, restricting how you live your life.

The extreme pain associated with the event can cause you to shut down emotionally, so that you distance yourself from your loved ones and lose interest in activities you previously enjoyed.

Often following a disturbing event you will have difficulty sleeping and you may experience irritability or moodiness. Your concentration may be affected, and you may find yourself less able to cope with everyday living. You may then find yourself developing unhelpful behaviours such as using alcohol or drugs to try to cope, and these behaviours may then become problems, too.

We can help by offering you the support you need to work with the traumatic event and its consequences, so that it no longer causes disruption of your ability to live your life. Mostly this will be in individual and group psychotherapy, but we can also offer medication to help deal with symptoms such as sleeplessness or mood disturbance, if appropriate.

Sexual Abuse & Trauma

Sadly, it is a fact of life that adults can sexually abuse children, older children can sexually abuse younger children, and adults can sexually abuse other adults. We understand the words “sexual abuse” to mean involving someone in unwanted sexual behaviour, sexual behaviour they have not consented to, or sexual behaviour they are not able to give valid consent to (as, for example, in the case of a child). The impact of sexual abuse can be immediate, or delayed, and the impact can be experienced in a wide variety of ways.

If you have experienced sexual abuse you will be more vulnerable to illnesses like depression and anxiety, and to addictions. You may have the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and you may find yourself entering states of mind where you detach yourself from reality. You may find it hard to like yourself, and you may have persisting feelings of shame and guilt about things which other people did to you. You may even hurt yourself, or make choices which are harmful to you. You may find expressing your own sexuality very difficult, and you may have worrying thoughts of sexually abusing others. Threats or other manipulative behaviours by the person who abused you may still seem to have power over you.

We can help you to understand your experiences as you journey towards wellness.  At Ashburn you will meet other people who are working with these consequences of abuse. In group settings and in individual psychotherapy you will be supported to explore the impact of the abuse on your relationships, including your relationship with yourself, and to change how you think and feel about yourself and others.

Arranging a Referral

Referrals to Ashburn Clinic may be made for inpatient care, Alexander House or day patient treatment (although usually patients are initially admitted to the inpatient unit). Access to Ashburn services differs depending on how the treatment is funded. Referrals are made to the Ashburn Clinic Medical Director by letter or email, or if more urgent please contact us by telephone: 03 476 2092.

Primary funding sources:

  • Private paying (view our Fees)
  • Ministry of Health
  • Accident Compensation Corporation.

Ashburn works well  for people with:

  • Personality and relationship difficulties
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictions
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression and other mood disorders
  • Severe and complex responses to trauma.

General criteria for referral:

  • Age 17 or over
  • Would benefit from treatment within a therapeutic community context.
Private Referrals

Referrals for people who wish to pay for their own treatment is arranged through a health professional, often a GP, counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. Your doctor or health professional can get in touch with us via email or telephone.

Inpatient Care: this involves residing in the  residential inpatient unit where there is 24-hour nursing care. Accommodation and meals are included in this service.

Alexander House: this option provides an independent living environment with meals included, and full access to the therapeutic community and programme. Entry is usually as a transfer from the inpatient unit, but on some occasions a direct admission may be considered. There is no 24-hour nursing care at Alexander House.

Community-Based Care (as a step-down): this may suit you if you reside in the Dunedin community and attend the therapeutic programme during the week. Lunches are provided.

Ministry of Health Referrals

Ashburn Clinic has a contract with the Ministry of Health. The referral process is as follows:

  • The individual needs to be assessed by a mental health service within a District Health Board.
  • If treatment at Ashburn is deemed appropriate by the individual's treatment team, they make a referral to one of five regional co-ordinators throughout the country (depending on the location of the DHB). If the regional co-ordinator feels the referral is appropriate, the individual will be added to a waiting list.
  • Individuals on the waitlist will then be admitted to Ashburn when a place becomes available.  

The exception to this process is the referral of impaired professionals (usually health professionals) who cannot be appropriately treated in their local area due to confidentiality or privacy reasons. These patients may be admitted immediately, following discussion with Ashburn and the MoH. 

ACC Referrals

The ACC Sensitive Claims Unit may fund intensive residential treatment at Ashburn for people with accepted sexual abuse claims. However, ACC view this option as being reserved for people who are suffering from very complex responses to their sexual abuse trauma and who have exhausted other community-based options.  

The approval process is initiated through the individual's ACC Case Manager and the Sensitive Claims Unit. The details of this process should be made available from the individual's ACC Case Manager, or through the ACC website.

If the application is successful, ACC will contact Ashburn and, once the referral is accepted, arrangements will be made for admission.

“Ashburn Clinic has given me my life back. The patients and staff have stuck by me as I have been trying to understand myself and my behaviour. It has taken a long time but it has worked and I leave Ashburn ready to go on with my life.”

– A Former Resident

Learn more about mental health

Treatment Pathways

Ashburn offers a professional and supportive environment for diagnosis, treatment and recovery from mental illness and addictions.

Admission to the inpatient ward at Ashburn is via referral from a medical professional. Treatment may be funded by the Ministry of Health, ACC, or privately. 

Our Gwen Wilson and Frank Hay units provide 24-hour nursing care and clinical support, and a patient’s stay is generally long-term. Patients participate in the core therapeutic programme, as well as specialist groups and support services suited to their needs, eg. eating disorders, substance addiction. In addition to any necessary medical support, therapeutic services are provided by nurses, psychiatrists,  psychotherapists, occupational therapists and a dietitian. 

As patients plan to discharge, they move to Alexander House which supports independent living with full access to the therapeutic community and programme. Acceptance to Alexander House is usually done as a transfer from the inpatient unit, but on some occasions a direct admission may be considered.

Admission to this inpatient programme is via referral from a medical professional. Treatment may be funded by the Ministry of Health, ACC, or privately. 

The Eating Disorder Programme focuses on the treatment of people with a primary eating disorder diagnosis and offers specific input to help patients address issues related to their eating disorder. As needed, defined protocols guide meals, activity levels and weight restoration. The clinical and kitchen staff work together to ensure the dietary needs of each patient are met.

Access to our Addiction Programme is via referral from a medical professional. New entrants join the established group at the week that the group have reached.

There are four sessions a week and a weekly substance abuse group (SAGS). We ask you to keep a reflective journal to record and reflect issues that inevitably come up and key learning. We also encourage you to attend AA or NA meetings with other patients. And, as part of the programme, we will facilitate meetings with your support network, which may include family, friends, and professional supports.

Access to outpatient care is via referral from a medical professional.

All of our psychiatrists are qualified to assess and treat major mental health issues. Our outpatient services include psychiatric assessment, consultation and management of all adult psychiatric disorders, psychiatric assessment for medicolegal, occupational or accident-related reasons, and rTMS. Sessions are conducted at Ashburn Clinic in Dunedin.   

We provide two community-based programmes which are suitable for people with more specifically-focused mental health problems, within Otago and Southland.  

  • The Dunedin Homebase Detox Service provides assessment and detox for people in the community who are wanting to safely reduce and stop using alcohol or substances. To contact HBDS, phone 03-4766063.
  • The Southern Support Eating Disorder Service provides education and a co-working model for treatment of people with eating disorders. To contact SSEDS, phone 0800-328744.

Therapy Components

Our daily therapeutic programme emphasises groups, where patients are encouraged to work through issues in groups and learn to understand their feelings, thoughts, and the behaviours of others. 

Small Psychodynamic Therapy Groups

Patients might participate in a psychodynamic therapy group. These are generally facilitated by a psychotherapist and a senior nurse, and include eight to ten patients who meet twice per week. Our small group meetings are critical to patient success and community support, as they encourage members to form a strong cohort of people engaging in treatment together.

Large Groups & Community Meetings

Twice-weekly gatherings include doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, along with patients. We explore topics including personal challenges, the dynamics between community members, and themes occurring across the community. A once-weekly forum for all patients and staff explores practical issues that affect the day-to-day life and themes of the community.

Individual Psychotherapy Sessions

When patients arrive they are assessed for suitability for psychodynamic psychotherapy. Therapists can provide supportive psychotherapy or in-depth psychodynamically-orientated psychotherapy. The majority of patients are allocated a therapist but a small minority are considered too unwell to utilise individual psychotherapy.

Living & Learning Activities

These activities, including gardening, cleaning, and cooking, are undertaken as a community. Members are expected to participate and be able to help – even in minor ways. These are opportunities for new and learning experiences, as well as relationship development.

Creative & Recreation Activities

It is often a very important part of a person’s treatment to learn how to use ‘down time’ effectively. Art, music and sport are encouraged in the day-to-day programme and we organise groups around these activities. Weekend and evening activities offer maximum therapeutic benefit.

Learn more about

Treatment Fees

The following charges apply for private-paying treatment at Ashburn Clinic. 

24-hour inpatient care: $4,170 per week on average (depending on varied costs for individual therapy and medication).

Self-care (Alexander House): $2,730 per week (depending on varied costs for individual therapy and medication).

The Addiction Programme is 10 weeks total. Fees are broken down as follows:
Assessment Phase (2 weeks): $8,850
Treatment Phase (8 weeks): $30,490

If medically managed withdrawal (detoxification) is required, this is typically an additional week at $3,855. Please note – one-week managed withdrawal is sufficient for most substances including alcohol. However, sometimes a longer period is required (e.g. from benzodiazepines or opioids) in which case a timeframe and cost will be discussed with you.

At this stage we do not admit patients for managed withdrawal only.

Community-based services (live off-site but attend therapy programme): $1,575 per week.

Initial Assessments:
$1,075 (Consultant Psychiatrist)  
$750 (Registrar)

Ongoing Psychiatric Services: 
$430/hour (Consultant Psychiatrist)
$300/hour (Registrar)

Appointments are charged in 15 minute blocks and will include the assessment time with the clinician, and may also include the time taken to prepare any reports required. 

Costs will be confirmed at the time the appointment is confirmed. Prices quoted include GST.

Please contact us for pricing information relating to our rTMS service.

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