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'A DISORDER FOR EVERYONE!' - Challenging the culture of psychiatric diagnos...

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The University of Wolverhampton



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"A Disorder for Everyone!" - Challenging the culture of psychiatric diagnosis and exploring non-pathologising alternatives in association with The University of Wolverhampton

AD4E is coming to Wolverhampton! This will be our 16th event!

Contributors confirmed so far include Dr Lucy Johnstone, Prof Peter Kinderman, Dr Akima Thomas, Jo Watson & Nollaig McSweeney

When you buy your ticket please consider donating a small amount via our "donation" option to support free and cheap places for people who can't afford to pay.

Who Attends?

This day is for anyone who is interested in and concerned about the current debates in 'mental health.'

It provides a space to explore the critical questions of the day around the biomedical model and the narrative of 'diagnosis and disorder!'

Attendees from past AD4E events have included people who identify as the following :-

people with lived experience of emotional distress, supporters of people with lived experience, survivors, psychologists, journalists, activists, counsellors & psychotherapists, service users, service refusers, students & trainees, mental health support professionals, psychiatrists, managers, academics, researchers, and individuals with a general personal interest.

About the day

The event features not just professionals but people from a diverse range of backgrounds who have an essential contribution to make to the debate.

Lucy Johnstone presents the current debates and controversies about psychiatric diagnosis. It is increasingly acknowledged, even within the mental health establishment, that categories like 'schizophrenia', 'bipolar disorder' and 'personality disorder' lack validity. The assumption that distress is best understood as disease can have very serious consequences for the individual, their identity, and their path to recovery. In the morning Lucy will present alternatives to diagnosis which can help people to make sense of experiences of distress, however extreme, and which are based on working together to explore personal meaning. In the afternoon Lucy will introduce participants to the Power Threat Meaning Framework

Check out the trailer for the Power Threat Meaning Framework Launch

About Lucy

Dr Lucy Johnstone is a UK clinical psychologist, trainer, speaker and writer, and a long-standing critic of biomedical model psychiatry. She has worked in adult mental health settings for many years, alternating with academic posts. She is the former Programme Director of the Bristol Clinical Psychology Doctorate, a highly regarded course which was based on a critical, politically-aware and service-user informed philosophy, along with an emphasis on personal development.

Lucy has authored a number of books, (including 'Users and Abusers of Psychiatry, 2nd edn 2000) articles and chapters on topics such as psychiatric diagnosis, formulation, the psychological effects of ECT, and the role of trauma in breakdown.

Lucy was a contributor to the Division of Clinical Psychology 'Position Statement on Classification' 2013. She is currently convening a group of leading UK clinical psychologists and mental health experts who are working to develop an evidence-based and conceptually coherent alternative to the current diagnostic systems.

Lucy's book is available here: A Straight-Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis,

& check out Lucy's articles for Mad in america here: https://www.madinamerica.com/author/ljohnstone/

Twitter - @ClinpsychLucy

Read Lucy & Jo's article in BACP's Therapy Today (April '17)

030 to 033 Just listen to their stories TT_Apr17.pdf

About Jo

Jo Watson is a psychotherapist, trainer and activist who started out in the survivor and rape crisis movements of the 1990's. She has worked therapeutically for the last 20 years with people who have experienced trauma. Jo actively challenges the biomedical model in mental health both inside and outside of her work and links emotional distress to psycho-social causes. (Trauma, oppression, lack of positive attachment etc.)

Jo believes that in many cases the identification with a ‘diagnosis’ is damaging and counterproductive to a satisfactory healing process and that alternative routes to understanding distress should be offered.

Jo founded the facebook group 'Drop The Disorder!' in September 2016 as a place where the issues surrounding the biomedical model can be discussed. Jo is organising and promoting "A Disorder For Everyone!" which is presently making its way around the UK!


Twitter - @dropthedisorder

AD4E website: www.adisorder4everyone.com

Read about how the event came about in Jo's Mad in America' blog!

About Nollaig

Nollaig McSweeney qualified as a mental health nurse in the UK in 1997 and worked in acute psychiatry for quite some time before she realised that the so-called ‘science’ behind it was highly questionable. This insight was largely sparked by reading Rosenhan’s 1973 study – On Being Sane in Insane Places. Nollaig is a valued member and contributor of "Drop the disorder' facebook group and is an activist for change.

About Akima

Dr Akima Thomas is a feminist psychotherapist & activist and comes from a background in nursing and social work. Founder and Clinical Director of Women and Girls Network a holistic therapeutic service working with women and girls surviving gendered violence. Akima has pioneered working from a trauma informed approach and has developed a strengths based non pathologising clinical model; the Holistic Empowerment Recovery Model (HER) integrating healing of mind body and spirit. More recently Akima has researched women’s healing journey chronicling their strategies of resistance rebellion and resilience to ensure survival.

About Peter

Peter Kinderman is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool and Vice President of the British Psychological Society.

His research interests are in psychological processes underpinning wellbeing and mental health. He has published widely on the role of psychological factors as mediators between biological, social and circumstantial factors in mental health and wellbeing, and has received significant research grant funding – most recently from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), to lead a three-year evidence synthesis programme for the ‘What Works Centre for Wellbeing’, exploring the effectiveness of policies aimed at improving community wellbeing and from the National Institute for Health Research to investigate the effectiveness of human rights training in dementia care. His most recent book, ‘A Prescription for Psychiatry’, presents his vision for the future of mental health services. You can follow him on Twitter as @peterkinderman.

A Prescription for Psychiatry: Why We Need a Whole New Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing

'Drop the language of disorder': http://ebmh.bmj.com/content/16/1/2


Abstract from Peter

When Anne Cooke and colleagues published the British Psychological Society report “Understanding Psychosis” in 2010, it was both widely praised and vilified, with the former President of the American Psychiatric Association, Jeffrey Lieberman, furious that the report could have the effect of: “challenging the veracity of diagnoses and giving people who have symptoms of a mental disorder, license to doubt that they may have an illness and need treatment”.

I hope very much that this is true. And we’ve seen significant progress since 2010. John Read, Richard Bentall, Jo Moncrieff and I published ‘Drop the language of disorder’ in 2012, and we’ve seen popular online courses (our own ‘psychology and mental health’ course here at Liverpool has now had over 100,000 people join as learners), textbooks such as John Cromby, Dave Harper and Paula Reavey’s ‘Psychology Mental Health and Distress’, TV programmes such as ‘Why did I go mad?’ with Rai Waddingham, Jacqui Dillon and Eleanor Londgen, the ‘Mad in America’ phenomenon and of course this series of events.

The tide seems to be shifting from Dr Leiberman’s position. In June of this year, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Dainius Pūras, argued that: “...a reductive neurobiological paradigm causes more harm than good, undermines the right to health, and must be abandoned…. There is a need of a shift in investments in mental health, from focusing on "chemical imbalances" to focusing on "power imbalances and inequalities.”

In my view, these are genuine auguries of a positive change, but it is worth reflecting that this movement bears few hallmarks of academic scientific or medical advancement, where academic arguments are won and changes ensue, and feels much more like a civil rights struggle, with citizens asserting their rights to humane care and the protection of their fundamental human rights.

About Matt

Matt Ball is a mental health nurse practitioner and psychotherapist, facilitating psychotherapy, supervision, group work and training at Humane Clinic Adelaide. Matt’s is interested in extraordinary realities,’ psychosis’ and trauma and cultural meaning, and the human-to-human relationship approaches to personal distress and meaning. Matt has led the training of 150 staff in the Maastricht approach to hearing voices in the public mental health system in South Australia. He continues to pursue the reality of a public mental health system that does not medicalize human distress as a potentially humane and just approach to anyone of us who may seek support in the context, the existential dilemma. He is the Founder and Co-Director of the Humane Clinic, a trainer with Blue Knot Foundation, the current chair of ISPS Australia, was awarded the 2017 Australian Mental Health Nurse of the Year and holds adjunct lecture status at Flinders Uni. Matt’s work is informed by his own lived experience of madness and unmadness, both in his personal and his professional journey. He has recently lest the public mental health system, this time as a worker, and continues to be an activist for change and exposure of the structural bullying and corruption that underpins the maintenance of the dominant discourse in Australian mental health services. In 2019 he is hoping to share the explanatory concept of Dissociachotic – as a way for people to move away from the labelling of voices, visions and other extraordinary experiences as ‘psychosis’ towards a more humane understand of legitimate human realities.

Matt's AD4E workshop 'Dissociachotic - seeing the non psychosis we share' will introduce the concept of Dissociachotic: how the emergence of the so call ‘psychosis’ occurs in the interrelatedness of the human to human relationship. Dissociachotic is an explanatory framework to describe both the moment that the Dissociachotic state emerges and the incredible opportunity for the supporter – peer, professional or any other supporting role – to identify and adapt their own actions or presence of threat, rather than coming closer, or seek to change the legitimate and meaningful reality that has been experienced by the person who feels threatened. When recognising the moment of the emerging ‘dissociachotic’ reality, an invitation to witness and respond to the ‘non psychosis’ is shared, that leads to the ‘evaporation of psychosis’ within the loving, non-goal orientated interrelationship (Ball & Picot, 2018).

What people have said about the event...

"The whole day has been a transformative experience. I have always been uncomfortable with labels but felt I had to go along with it. Now I feel empowered to offer the people I work with the option at least to explore alternative ways of understanding their pain." (Participant Birmingham)

"I feel like I am at the beginning of an exciting and liberating journey. Thank you Lucy" (Participant on Birmingham )

"I've been told I am ill for the best part of 20 years and given the 'meds' to go along with it. This has never felt right, now I know it isn't right." (participant Bristol)

"A Disorder for Everyone is not your average event. I have learnt that I need to unlearn! I am re-evaluating everything!" (Participant Birmingham)

"Everything about today has been validating, I really needed this course!" (participant Edinburgh)

"Lucy's straight forward, common sense approach was just what I needed at the moment. Her message is simple: Listen to people, to their stories and help them make their own sense about their lives" (Participant Birmingham course)

"I have no idea what to make of it all, but I feel like i'm at the start of a mini personal revolution!" (Participant London)

"I arrived today with two 'illnesses', I'm leaving with the knowledge that all my pain and distress makes total sense." (Participant Liverpool)

"Inspirational, exciting but most of all hopeful" (Participant Brighton)

Check our Counsellor Cath Norris talking about her experience of AD4E

Professor Peter Kinderman's thoughts about the events

The musical slideshow of our Manchester event!

A review written by participant Monica Glover about our Birmingham event in April 2018

For in depth reviews please check out the website


The University of Wolverhampton ( room/building to be confirmed)


WV1 1 LY

Making this event as accessible as possible to people who are unable to afford the fee / full fee is a key consideration for us. As a result we have been as efficient as possible and do not provided lunch or programmes etc. It is a 'no paper' event and all resouces and presentations are made available via the website via passwords afterwards.

We hope you support the decision to run the event cost effectively for this reason.

AD4E London - Amnesty International, 8th June 2017

AD4E Birmingham April 2018


Our events feature numerous contributors and we cannot guarentee that every speaker booked will attend. If an advertised speaker cannot attend we will do our best to replace them with someone equally spectacular! :)

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