Alongside Psychosis: Alternatives to Psychiatric Admission

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We explore alternatives to traditional support given to people who experience a crisis related to psychosis.

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We are bringing together speakers who work internationally or in the UK and offer support to people who experience a crisis related to psychosis. Our speakers will talk about rights based and person centred support their organisations offer people in these situations. They will talk about their experiences at Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service, Trieste in Italy, Soteria Vermont in the USA and an activist's experience in Manchester of trying to change the system.

Barry Cooper

After a few years working as an electronic engineer, I felt the need to do something more “worthwhile” so began to volunteer with the Connect Helpline in 2008, part of Leeds Survivor-Led Crisis Service. The therapeutic approach used at Connect (and all of LSLCS) – Rogers’ Person-Centred Approach – felt incredibly natural to me and I loved the work. Within a couple of years I’d given up my engineering career and started working in a bank role in Dial House (our face-to-face crisis service) and on Connect, supervising volunteers. Our approach has always been “work with what the person brings, in the here and now” rather than relying on history, a risk assessment or following our own agenda as to what the person must achieve whilst using our services. I massively enjoyed the reflective work that we do on ourselves as part of learning to do this work better and the culture of doing what made sense to help others, rather than what other people felt was normal within mental health. In 2011 I attended the incredible conference “Understanding and Working with the Consequences of Childhood Sexual Abuse” which opened my eyes to the more proactive ways to work with trauma (instead of just sitting and listening). Around the same time I also did some basic training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and working therapeutically with complex dissociation, which both further highlighted to me the importance of not just being a sounding board to someone in crisis, but an active participant in the relationship. Since 2017 I have been the manager of Dial House where I have responsibility for service delivery, quality of output and staff wellbeing.

Vincenzo Passante studied Psychology at post-graduate level and qualified as a Psychologist in the city of Trieste (Italy), a mental health system with no psychiatric hospital. In this setting he had experience of being both a service user as a teenager and then an intern and a volunteer in different services later on. He now lives in the UK, where he has worked in NHS crisis services as well as in a range of other care and mental health settings.

Vincenzo is currently hosting a podcast ("A place of safety?") and campaigning for the deinstitutionalisation of British services, in line with Franco Basaglia's vision of an inclusive system which is at the heart of services in Trieste.

Paul Baker is a community development worker based in Manchester, England.

He is one of the founding members of the Hearing Voices Network in England and INTERVOICE, the coordinating body for the international hearing voices movement. He has been involved in supporting the growth of the hearing voices movement for the last 30 years. In the last four years his work has been focused on supporting the development of the Hearing Voices Network and Hearing Voices Groups in Brazil.

Paul has worked in the health, social care and education sectors. He has helped to develop innovative community mental health projects including services run by the people who use them, self-advocacy services, supported housing, social firms and enterprises and forums for people to enable them to have a direct input in the planning, development and running of services. For fifteen years Paul was the chairperson of a large housing association for homeless people in Manchester England.

Paul also works a trainer and consultant. He is involved in a range of projects that aim to increase the agency and autonomy of people who use mental health services, through changing thinking practice and culture. He is part of the International Mental Health Collaborating Network and is currently working with services in the Czech Republic, Ireland and the UK

He has a special interest in working with groups of people to find ways of empowering people to overcome difficulties and problems. He also has a strong commitment of forging international partnerships in the development and sharing of progressive and effective mental health initiatives.

Katie Bourque (she/her/hers) lives in Burlington, Vermont. She has worked with incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals for over a decade. Katie has experience in numerous residential settings, including Soteria Vermont. Katie has recently focused on supporting people experiencing first episode psychosis/extreme states/non-consensus reality to re-frame crisis as an opportunity. Katie identifies with an array of lived experiences, including: psychiatric labels, coming off psych medications, trauma, substance use, parental incarceration, and loved ones attempting or dying by suicide. Katie is a proponent of cognitive liberty, harm reduction, and the peer support movement.

Katie will be joined by a previous Soteria Vermont service recipient with lived experience who now advocates for self-determination and peer service based approaches to extreme state support. Soteria Vermont is a residential program primarily focused on people experiencing first episode psychosis.

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