2013 Conference of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry


The 2013 ISEPP conference in Greensboro is all about finding alternative ways of helping children and youth who are diagnosed with mental disorders and their families: Alternatives to the present system in which the children are very likely to be drugged, a treatment approach which will not be very helpful to them or their parents.

The conference occurs six months after the roll-out of the 5th version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  One of the plenary sessions at the conference will be a panel discussion on the impact of the DSM and biopsychiatry on psychotherapy.  The panel consists of representatives of the American Counseling Association, Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA), Division 32 (Society for Humanistic Psychology) of the APA and ISEPP.  The panel will be considering questions such as:

What is precisely the problem with the DSM?  If we see it as a clever, if overblown, catalogue of symptoms, what’s the big deal?  But isn’t it much more than that?  If we take into account the “front material” in the DSM with its disregard of situational context and personal histories and its reinforcement of mental disorders as essentially biological and nothing more, it is the theoretical bedrock of mainstream psychiatry and biopsychiatry.

Will psychotherapy be able to survive the onslaught of biological psychiatry?  Although there has been quite a lot of writing recently about the ineffectiveness of, and the harm caused by, psychotropic drugs, there has been very little criticism of the biopsychiatric belief system, i.e. that the states of being which lead people to be diagnosed with mental disorders are caused by chemical imbalances, genetic dynamics and brain disorders.  The use of drugs has increased by 30 percent in recent years and the use of psychotherapy has decreased by 30 percent.  Will this trend continue?  If not, what will stop it or turn it around?

To what extent is neuroscience compatible with psychotherapy?  The National Institute for Mental Health spends $900 million a year on research, the great majority of it on studies of the brain, neuroscience and psychotropic drugs.  How is this research going to be of help to human beings?

Robert Whitaker will be talking about his recent experience in presenting at the national conference of the National Alliance for Mental Illness and his controversy with Pete Early, one of E. Fuller Torrey’s henchman.  How mainstream psychiatry responds to Whitaker’s findings is extremely interesting.  How do they avoid the cognitive dissonance that would ensue if they gave any credence to Whitaker’s findings, all of which are based on research that was supported by mainstream psychiatry?

Bruce Levine will be helping us think about the next steps in our effort to advocate for and promote safe, humane, life-enhancing approaches to helping people who are going through hard times.

We’ll also be hearing from the following main speakers:

Dawn O’Malley on the effects of trauma and neglect on the developing brain and how to help children who didn’t benefit from healthy early experiences;

Bose Ravenel, a pediatrician who practices integrative medicine with children and their parents, i.e. looking at the whole child including nutrition, social and psychological factors, medical issues and other environmental factors;

John Rosemond on common-sense, practical and effective approaches to parenting;

Christina Dickinson on a safe, healthy and life-enhancing approach to healing children who have suffered from both life-threatening and developmental trauma, i.e. not receiving the care, support, affirmation and connection that children need in order to grow into healthy adults;

Giovan Bazan, a young man who has been through the foster care and criminal justice systems and who now helps youth who are in foster care and juvenile justice custody;

Will Hall and Mary Olson on Open Dialogue, a non-drug approach to helping people who are experiencing early psychosis and their families;

Joan Rosenberg, a psychotherapist who uses neuroscience to help her patients see how their brains change as they learn how to manage their thoughts, emotions, intentions and perceptions in healthier ways.

David Stein, who will present a pre-conference workshop on how to help children who are going through hard times with out using drugs.

If you come to the conference, you’ll also be able to attend numerous breakout sessions presented by parents, therapists, consumers, survivors and researchers who are using and promoting safe, humane and life-enhancing approaches to helping children and their families.

And you’ll have a chance to connect with lots of other people who are interested in these issues and involved in the effort to find better ways of helping people who are going through hard times.

To learn more about the conference and register, please go to www.psychintegrity.org or call Michael Gilbert, Conference Chair at 315-382-0541.  Scholarships and reduced rates are available.  And we have a special rate for parents.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. I hope that podcasts of the presentations will be made available at no cost. The continuing kick in the head for those of us long into the mental health system is that our limited incomes rarely allow us to attend the conferences, colloquia, seminars and the like that showcase what can be done. Instead we are left to experience the consequences of long standing attitudes and approaches.

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