New horizons in treatment: Croatia 2019

  • Tim Penrice, manager of the Kairos Garden Day Programme, reports from Rijeka

As part of my ongoing thinking and training in addiction treatment and group psychotherapy, I travelled to the International Group Analytic Society summer school programme, held this year in Croatia.

Eighty un-like minded group therapists from across the Balkans, Eastern and Western Europe, India, Russia and New Zealand came together to experience five days of small and large groups, supervision, lectures and social engagement in a stylish 19th-century former Governor’s Palace in the northern port city of Rijeka (nominated, incidentally, as the European Capital of Culture for 2020).

The working title of the conference was Tolerance: harbouring diversities, a challenging subject for all of us from divided societies. Brexit was topical and tortuous.

Globally, group psychotherapy is one of the most widely practised and effective clinical models in mental health and addiction treatment, and there was a variety of addiction clinicians and therapists sharing their international expertise and experience.

The social and group nature of human beings speaks directly to the isolation and alienation of diverse addicted and damaged individuals, but in the power of the group, recovery and rehabilitation get a kick start.

I will remember this conference for the introduction it gave me to the work of Dr Vladimir Hudolin, a pioneering Croatian social-psychiatrist, who in the 1960s started to develop a network of ‘clubs of alcoholics in treatment’ (CATs) as part of a continuum of professional treatment and aftercare of alcoholics. There are now more than 2,000 such clubs through Croatia, Italy and in 30 countries worldwide.

There is, I feel, an interesting resonance between these CATs and the family and systemic therapy that we hope to develop in future at the Garden Day Programme.

  • For more information about Dr Hudolin\’s work:


The Summer School was organised by the Group Analytic Society International, GASI.