HMP Holloway was the largest women’s prison in Europe, historically holding numerous infamous female criminals and eliciting intrigue and fascination from the public. The End of the Sentence: Psychotherapy with Female Offenders documents the rich and varied psychotherapeutic work undertaken by dedicated specialists in this intense and often difficult environment, where attempts to provide psychological security were often undermined by conflicting ideas of physical security.

Women commit crime most often in the context of poverty, addiction and transgenerational violence or trauma, familial cycles of offending and imprisonment which are often overlooked. Using personal testimony and case studies, and screened through the lens of psychoanalytic theory, the book examines the enduring therapeutic and relational endeavour to find connection, closure and to experience a "good enough" ending with prisoners when the possibility of a positive new beginning often seemed remote. It also considers how the cultural and political discourse remains hostile towards women who are incarcerated, and how this may have culminated in the closure of the only female prison in London.

Through insightful real-life accounts, this insightful book also emphasizes the importance of professionals finding ways of supporting one another to offer women who have entered the criminal justice system a way to leave it. It will prove fascinating reading for forensic psychotherapists, forensic psychologists and criminologists, as well as anything interested in the criminal justice system.

chapter |6 pages


part I|2 pages

Prison and the symbolic mother

chapter Chapter One|14 pages

The violence of austerity

chapter Chapter Two|18 pages

Twenty years in prison

Reflections on the birth of the Born Inside project and psychotherapy in HMP Holloway

chapter Chapter Three|16 pages

Who’s holding the baby?

Containment, dramatherapy and the pregnant therapist

part II|2 pages

Working with institutional dynamics

chapter Chapter Four|14 pages

Encountering HMP Holloway

A conversation

chapter Chapter Five|13 pages


Working at the boundary of confinement and freedom

chapter Chapter Six|14 pages

Parallel endings

A personal reflection on the closure of HMP Holloway

part III|2 pages

Living in prison

chapter Chapter Seven|22 pages

Living and dying

A journey through the life cycle of the Onyx art therapy group for women from overseas

chapter Chapter Eight|14 pages

“I will never get out of here”

Therapeutic work with an Imprisonment for Public Protection prisoner caught up in the criminal justice system

chapter Chapter Nine|14 pages

“I could do it on my eyelashes”

Holding the unthinkable for the unthinking patient

part IV|2 pages

Prison and society

chapter Chapter Ten|11 pages

Holloway and after

From loss to creativity

chapter Chapter Eleven|19 pages

Trauma, art and the “borderspace”

Working with unconscious re-enactments

chapter |2 pages