When Doug Turkington, a UK psychiatrist, first announced to his colleagues that he wanted to help people with psychotic experiences by talking to them, he was told by some that this would just make them worse, and by others that this would be a risk to his own mental health, and would probably cause him to become psychotic! Fortunately, he didn’t believe either group, and in the following decades he went on to be a leading researcher and educator about talking to people within the method called CBT for psychosis.
I recently had the great pleasure of hosting a Hearing Voices workshop with Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Many people described this as one of the best trainings they had ever attended. Ron's message is inherently uplifting - after all this internationally known educator was once a mental patient given a poor prognosis. But in addition, they offered pragmatic suggestions for how to think about voices and talk to someone who is experiencing them.
If not every week, then very often, we receive requests from people not living in Sweden asking if it would be possible to come to the Family Care Foundation and take part in our shared work. I often day-dream that I have a list of different places in different countries where it was obvious that the main task for the organization and everyone involved was to meet those we call clients and their families in a relational and dialogical way, where it was NOT important at all to define people in terms of diagnosis and where it was NO big deal to support people to get off medication. Where the big deal was about something else: to try to create a safe place and to make sense of experiences and to try to share the very hard things with each other.
In recent weeks I have taken part in some very powerful meetings at my work place, the Family Care Foundation. By "powerful" I mean that they have been both moving and demanding, Many people who did not know about us before seeing Daniel Mackler´s movie, Healing Homes, have contacted the Family Care Foundation looking for a place where it is possible to get off pharmaceuticals, and to be supported. Even more importantly, they are longing for a place where they are met as a human being, amongst other human beings.
State of the Re:Union, a public radio project that tells "the story of America, one story at a time," devotes a show to stories...
The Lived Experience Research Network Issue Briefs series promotes change through multiple perspectives. We recently launched our inaugural Fall 2013 edition of the LERN Issue Briefs series. These two-page briefs highlight issues of importance in the behavioral health and disabilities fields.
The recent furore surrounding publication of the new DSM has provided a much-needed opportunity to discuss and debate crucial issues about how we make sense of, and respond to, experiences of madness and distress. Many psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals have expressed their dismay about the dominance and inadequacy of a biomedical model of mental illness. Whilst we share these concerns, welcome these debates and support colleagues that are willing to take a stand, The Hearing Voices Network believes that people with lived experience of diagnosis must be at the heart of any discussions about alternatives to the current system.
Carina Håkansson, co-founder of the Family Care Foundation in Sweden, discusses her work with family care homes, psychotherapy and family therapy absent from psychiatric diagnoses and manuals.
If people who work in mainstream biological psychiatry are willing to consider referring people in severe psychiatric crises to a program that operates under both a completely alternative philosophy and model to their own, then I see hope for our world’s mental health system. If our local psychiatric emergency room is willing to refer to a program like ours, then other psychiatric emergency rooms elsewhere in the United States and the world must be willing at least to consider doing the same. For this reason, I do not feel like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. I feel the system can change.
During the 1970s, the head of schizophrenia studies at the NIMH, Loren Mosher, conducted an experiment that compared treatment in a homelike environment (called...