Trustees & Management Committee



Aida Alayarian with Josephine Klein Found the Refugee Therapy Centre, and served as CEO, Clinical Director and training Programme leader until March 2017. She remains as a Trustee and involve with training. Aida is a chartered consultant clinical psychologist, specialising as a paediatric psychoanalyst and child psychotherapist since 1986, and adult psychoanalytic psychotherapist since 1998 with background in medicine. Over three decades, Aida has worked with children, young adults and families in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural settings in the statutory and voluntary sectors. Prior to RTC, she worked for seven years at NAFSIYAT, and for period managed children and family referrals. She was Head of Therapy Services and Chair of Fostering and Adoption panel at the Childcare Co-operative. Aida served at the NHS at South London & Maudsley NHS Trust and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trusts. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, a honorary fellow of the UKCP and an A. Fellow of the British Psychological Society. She sat on the executive board of the UKCP-CPJA as Treasurer for two years and as acting Chair for another two years. She is a member of the World Association of Cultural Psychiatry (WACP) and since 2012 she has sat as the Chair of the Special Interest Group (SIG) in Psychotherapy of the WACP. 

After thirteen years of offering one year Foundation course in psychodynamic theories as they apply to working with refugees and other people who have endured extreme trauma, Aida developed, and until 2017, was the Programme Leader of a four year professional training and MA course with the University of East London as well as the Professional Doctorate in Intercultural Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in partnership with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). 

Aida has published extensively, including Resilience, Suffering and Creativity: The Work of the Refugee Therapy Centre (2007); Trauma, Torture and Dissociation: A Psychoanalytic View (2011); Handbook of Working with Children, Trauma, and Resilience: An Intercultural Psychoanalytic View (2015); Consequences of Denial-The Armenian Genocide (2008); Children of Refugees-Torture, Human Rights, and Psychological Consequences (2016). Aida’s work was awarded with the Women in Public Life award in 2009; the Centre of Social Justice Award in 2010 and the London Educational Partnership in 2011.

Mr Lennox Thomas


Lennox Thomas joined the RTC Board since its inception in 1999. He trained in clinical social work, and family psychotherapy at the Marlborough Day Hospital in London and in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the British Association of Psychotherapists. He worked in the Royal London Hospitals group and the London Probation Service for many years before becoming Clinical Director of NAFSIYAT Intercultural Therapy Centre, and Co-Director of the MSc Course in Intercultural Therapy at University College London. He is a consultant psychotherapist at the Refugee Therapy Centre, a training therapist and supervisor. He is a senior member of the British Psychotherapy Foundation, the Association for Family Therapy and the British Psychoanalytic Council. He was elected Honorary Fellow of the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy. Lennox has an interest in attachment and relational psychotherapy.



Professor of Neuroscience, UCL, London, UK.

Francesca is a neuroscientist at UCL, where she conducts research and teaching, with a specific focus in brain development. She has developed a passion for the processes underlying the development of the brain during her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences in Naples, Italy. She moved to UCL, London, in 1997 to undertake her PhD and post-doctoral work in Prof John O’Keefe’s laboratory (Nobel Laureate 2014).  Francesca set up an independent research group in 2008 in the UCL Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology where to study brain circuits important for memory and spatial navigation. She recently joined the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital, in an honorary capacity, to undertake research in clinical paediatric populations, in the group of Prof Faraneh Vargha-Khadem. 

Alongside her passion for neuroscience, Francesca have always had an interest in mental health provision, and have volunteered for several organisations both in the UK and abroad, including the Refugee Therapy Centre, where she have been a mentor a few years ago.


RAMIN RIAHI - Treasurer


Ramin is a graduate of Economics from Bristol University. Since leaving University in June 2017, he has worked in a number functions of Investment Banking, at institutions such as J.P. Morgan and Societe Generale. He hopes to bring his passion for numbers and experience in the financial industry to the Refugee Therapy Centre as Treasurer. Ramin has been involved in charity work for many years, volunteering at Mary Curie Cancer Care during his early time at school through Duke of Edinburgh schemes, and also becoming a leader of Amnesty International at school and remaining heavily involved throughout his time at University. He is also an avid musician, a pianist for over 15 years, footballer, qualified Scuba diver and poker player.




Vida is a chartered psychologist. She is Kurdish from Iran. She has years of experience living and working beyond borders in several countries beyond Iran, namely in India, Iraq, Pakistan and Kurdistan. Before moving to London permanently Vida worked as a senior lecturer in Department of Psychology in Erbil University in Kurdistan. As a lecturer Vida, observing the students’ struggles to achieve their potentials, she volunteered to set up students counselling service helping students who have been experiencing traumatic events prior, during and after war in Iraq on a voluntary basis.  Within short period the suicides and other psychological issues in students struggling decreased. As the result, the university sought funding and set up students counselling clinic at the university as well as developing outreach programme to help families outside university. Now, living in London Vida is pleased to join the RTC Board of Trustees and Management Committee as a place to keep helping people in need. Vida is interested in sport and professional mountain climbing. She was the first Kurdish woman climbing Himalayan Mountain as an Iranian national team. She is the founder of students association of her university during her B.A study, and since her student life keeps her social and clinical activity to help those in need.




Jenny Manson born in Harpenden Herts, has a Degree in History from Oxford. For 35 years she worked as a Tax Inspector plus several odd jobs when the kids were small and the civil service didn't offer part time work.  She did various short terms and went back to the Revenue in the mid-1980s. 

Jenny was Parliamentary Candidate for the Labour Party in 1987, Local Labour Councillor in Barnet 1986 to 1990, School Governor on several schools in 1980s/1990s and chair of Save the Children in Barnet.  She supported various refugee charities and had given personal support to an asylum seeker from Sierra Leone for the last ten years:  this young woman now has the right to remain. 

Currently, Jenny is Chair of the Board of Trustees for Barnet Carers Centre. She is Co-chair of Jewish Voice for Labour and a lobbyist for Jews for Justice for Palestinians. Jenny has edited two books;  What it Feels Like to be Me, and  Public Service on the Brink. 



Zubeyde Arabaci was born in Turkey. She studied psychological counselling and guidance. As the result of involving in political campaign for human right, she was persecuted. She had to leave and became refugee in 1999. She joined to RTC as a volunteer and student on the introductory course and very soon she takes the position of the Community Development Worker and also Mentoring project Coordinator. Besides her individual clients, Zudeyde with other colleagues set up the Story Telling Women Group with the aim to support participants to improve their language skills, to break isolation, to build new social contacts with society and to feel empowered and regain their self-esteem. Zubeyde currently is coordinating the counselling service in educations.


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