This one day Continuing Professional Development (CPD) event is for everyone who is interested in the current debates around mental health. It aims to attract psychologists, counsellors, psychotherapists, mental health support professionals as well as managers and individuals with a personal interest.
Facilitated by Dr Lucy Johnstone & Jo Watson and featuring spoken word artists Jasmine Gardosi & Jo McFarlane. It is a chance to discuss the critical questions of the day around the biomedical model in mental health.
Lucy Johnstone will summarise 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 false assumption that distress is best understood as disease can have very serious consequences for the individual, their identity, and their path to recovery. Lucy will present alternatives to diagnosis which can help clients to make sense of experiences of distress, however extreme, and which are based on working together to explore personal meaning. There will opportunities for debate and practice-based exercises.

Dr Lucy Johnstone
Dr Lucy Johnstone

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 British Psychological Society’s response to the proposed DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) revisions. 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.
Her new book, A Straight-Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis, is available via the link below Twitter – @ClinpsychLucy

About Jo
Jo Watson is a psychotherapist, trainer and supervisor with a professional history in the rape crisis movement of the 1990’s. She has works therapeutically for the last 20 years with people who have experienced trauma. Jo actively challenges the bio-medical model of mental health inside and outside of work and links distress and mental ill health 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 understandings should be offered.
“For me at the very core of the therapeutic process is the telling of personal stories, the naming and acknowledgment of experience. It is, fundamentally a process of making sense of distress in a relationship that feels affirming, safe and containing. Why then are many counsellors and therapists seemingly accepting the movement towards labels and diagnosis that too often negate the experiences that clients have had. What impact is this having on therapeutic practice, on us as professionals and on the clients we work with? Surely this is a discussion that we need to have.” Jo Twitter – @JWpsychotherapy

Jasmine Gardosi.
(Jasmine Gardosi is the current Midlands Slam Champion & Birmingham Poet Laureate finalist 2014/15)
Jasmine will be performing a spoken word piece about the issues being discussed.

The Venue
The Ark is a bright, contemporary venue that is minutes from junction 2 of the M42 and a 2 minute walk away from Alvechurch train station. There is ample car parking space and is fully accessible for disabled participants.
A buffet lunch and refreshments are provided (All hours are valid CPD hours for BACP and UKCP (CPD Certificates will be issued)

Slide show of the event

Lucy Johnstone

Poem by Sally Fox that was performed by Jo McFarlane

No Apology in Pathology

They never say sorry when they get it wrong
even though you told them all along.

You didn’t quite agree
But technically that isn’t disagreeing
Still compliant
Just questioning
not defiant.

Twelve psychiatrists later
and a decade lost to medication and side effects…
Finally I am listened to,
having evidenced with detailed mood charts
It feels like respect
But instead, a new diagnosis is given

It’s not so much mood as behaviour driven.
Personality Disorder! and Borderline at that!
“What about Bipolar? Do they overlap?”

They can co-exist
But there’s the matter of your manias…
They’re not quite long enough, She said

So I’m a borderline Bipolar
“Can I come off my meds?”

A solemn expression followed by:
I wouldn’t recommend it

“Well I really want to. Can’t we at least try it?”

Epilim was the first to go
and signs of mania started to show:
Elation caused by the drug’s withdrawal.
We slowed down the process
to a gentler regime.
Next to go was Lamotrigine –
a cautious and careful wean.

Two years later I’m mood-stabiliser free
and I’ve completed three years in DBT

In remission and recovery
Everyone’s so proud of me
But, that damn label is still stuck to me.
There really is no apology in pathology

“A Disorder for Everyone !”
exploring the culture of psychiatric diagnosis 15/10/16 The Ark Alvechurch
(A review)

The day was skilfully woven together by Jo Watson who introduced the event with some wise words and then invited Jo McFarlane to speak. This included some of Jo’s life as well as some of hers and her partner Sally Fox heartfelt poetry.
From there, Jo then introduced The main speaker, Lucy Johnstone, a clinical psychologist. Lucy Johnstone’s very informative input formed the bulk of the day as we all listened to her extensive experience and enormous effort in her approach to challenging main stream psychiatric diagnosis.
After the delicious lunch that was provided for us, Lucy continued with a workshop further exploring the days theme.
The day was rounded up with Jasmine Gardosi, an exceptional talent with the spoken word, reading a poem written by Jo Watson and the combination of Jo’s powerful and moving poem read by the talented Jasmine brought the day to an impressive end.

The feel of the day was relaxed, very informative, well managed and by close, I am sure we all took plenty home to help expand our awareness and understanding around the days topic.

A quote from the day that stood out for me was from Lucy Johnstone quoting survivor Beth Filson, which made a very salient point and I fully agree, when we are given the opportunity;

“healing happens with the re-storying of our lives”

Edward Giles

jasmine’s performance