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Psychosis, Citizenship, and Belonging: Forging Pathways toward Inclusion and Healing

November 1-3, 2019
New Haven, Connecticut

Cosponsored by:
New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (NE-MHTTC)
Connecticut Mental Health Center
International Recovery & Citizenship Collective

Co-Chairs of Program Committee: Claire L. Bien, MEd and Phil Corlett, PhD

The deadline for proposals has passed. Thanks for all of the submissions we received.

About the Meeting

Psychosis is often described as a departure from consensual reality. But who provides the consensus? When our experiences are not validated by those closest to us and are discounted by institutions, our very status as citizens in the communities to which we belong is threatened. Citizenship is not limited to legal status, but includes participation in a world that encompasses acceptance, community integration, and the work of personal and social recovery. Indeed, full membership in society, according to Michael Rowe, Yale Professor of Psychiatry, encompasses the '5 Rs' of Citizenship: Rights, Responsibilities, Roles, Resources, and Relationships, accompanied by a sense of belonging. Yet those experiencing psychosis are often excluded from the 5 Rs, and more. Psychosis is one way in which the mind and spirit respond to feelings of powerlessness, danger, and fear. These feelings are often born of trauma, abuse, discrimination, alienation, and isolation. When disbelieved, and then fed by shame and guilt, they can grow to destructive proportions.

As persons with lived experience, advocates, practitioners, family members and researchers, we also populate communities that have languages and customs that can insulate us from certain ideas and practices in the wider world. Our hope for the ISPS-US 18th Annual Meeting is to challenge that insularity. While respecting each group's point of view, we also want to reach across the institutional, organizational, and practical divides that have been forged by the groups to which we all belong. We seek to appreciate and understand the common themes that spiritual, social, psychological, and biological approaches offer toward understanding psychosis.

It is significant that this celebration of consensus and difference will take place in New Haven, which in 1984 hosted the first ISPS International Conference held outside of Europe. Here in Connecticut, we are excited not only to be able to showcase the beauty and history of New Haven and Yale, but to celebrate the ways we have begun forging new pathways of discovery, understanding, support, collaboration, opportunity, and research.

Our goal is to present new and more nuanced understandings of the relationships between alienation and isolation and psychosis, and to highlight the degree to which a sense of safety and belonging—to family, to community, and to the world—can foster resilience and promote recovery in vulnerable individuals. Join us in New Haven!

This program will interest psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, therapists, nurses, peer specialists and other mental health professionals, students, academics and attorneys, as well as members of the lay public, including people with lived experience of psychosis/extreme states and their families, who are interested in learning about the experience and treatment of psychosis and extreme states.

Conference Links

Program Schedule
Abstracts, Audience, Learning Objectives & References
Continuing Education
Hotel Information
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Accessibility, Volunteering, Scholarships
Saturday Night Dinner
Presenter Biographies
Print version of meeting brochure
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Keynote Speaker: Marty Cindy Hadge, IPS

Living In The Margins And The Struggle To Reclaim Citizenship

When resources are lacking, basic needs go unmet, rights are ignored, relationships betrayed, and valued roles hover out of reach, how does one adapt? Some individuals reach a point in their lives when they can no longer bear what they have experienced, and in their struggle to make sense of the senseless, become lost. This happens when individuals are told to believe in a reality that does not match what their hearts, minds, and bodies know to be true. Some may call that phenomenon “psychosis.” Others may say it is a spiritual experience, an existential crisis, or blame governmental forces or aliens. Research has shown that this can be a necessary and protective response to trauma. But the effect on the individual, whose only certainty is that impending doom will be their companion in a hostile world, is devastating. In their efforts to find a path upon which some piece of themselves can survive, the individual’s identity may be shattered or contorted. When they seek help, instead of finding care for and understanding of their own true selves, they are placed in a box; their identities stolen by diagnosis.

This workshop will provide mental health professionals with insight into the lives and minds of people who have lived on the margins and suggest tools for creating spaces where they can make meaning, reclaim their sense of self, and build a life they want to live. When love breaks through the fear, people who have become alienated from themselves can, with support, develop a sense of personal value, dare to trust, and find hope. They can learn to withstand bearing the truth of trauma, and the injustices of the world. In those moments, they may find the strength to own their broken parts and discarded selves. When shame and guilt are left by the way, people can heal, and new ways of navigating their outer and their inner worlds can develop.

Based on current research, and speaking from direct personal experience as well as learning gained through supporting others, this talk will address marginalization and ways of reclaiming citizenship. Such approaches as somatic healing, Maastricht Interview, and exploring the social supports that foster recovery will be illustrated.

Honoree: Larry Davidson, PhD

Recovering the Self in Psychosis

Diverse theoretical orientations on psychopathology, including most recently phenomenological and neuroscientific approaches, consistently have viewed a core component of psychosis to be the loss, or distortion, of a person’s sense of self as an effective agent in a shared, social world. How such a sense of self becomes lost or distorted, and the questions of whether or not, and if so, how it can be recovered have received considerably less attention. These questions are taken up in this lecture. Based on a career’s worth of longitudinal and qualitative research, and enhanced by a growing trove of recovery narratives, this presentation focuses on the recovery of a sense of self as an effective social agent as core to the overall process of recovery in psychosis. Processes of reconstructing a sense of self begin with acceptance and an instillation of hope, which together provide a foundation for rediscovering one’s efficacy in seemingly small but concrete ways, that then are incorporated into a sense of social identity as a worthwhile member of one’s community. Finally, the implications of such an understanding for developing recovery-oriented practices are considered.

Members of FACE (Focus, Act, Connect Every-day), a close partner of the Citizens Community Collaborative of the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH), pose for a picture after having spent several hours volunteering at Fish of Greater New Haven, preparing bags for Fish’s Thanksgiving food distribution. Many FACE members have experienced significant life disruptions due to mental health issues, substance use, trauma, homelessness, and incarceration, while some have not had these experiences. The group meets bi-weekly to provide mutual support in engaging with the community and to plan activities and events with community partners.

ISPS-US announces the Rodney Waldron Memorial Scholarship Fund.

ISPS-US Statement Condemning U.S. Immigration Family Separation Policies

The traumatic family separation policies of the Trump White House (WH) have been condemned by the following American health and human rights organizations: The American Academy of Pediatrics, The United Nation’s Human Rights Council, the American Medical Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Academy of Medicine, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Nurses Association, etc.

View Full Statement

ISPS-US Statement on Mass Shootings and “Mental Illness”

While the number of mass shootings in the United States has risen sharply over the past 20 years, and shows no sign of slowing down, some public leaders have erroneously blamed “mental illness” for these horrific crimes. ISPS-US joins Mental Health America, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association in condemning statements that blame or suggest that “mental illness” is the culprit behind these crimes.

View Full Statement

Help Support ISPS-US

The next time you shop on Amazon, use this link and a small portion of your purchase will be donated to us at no extra cost to you!

With iGive, you can setup your account to support ISPS-US. You can signup here and a small portion of your purchases will be donated to help support our foundation

You can make a direct donation to ISPS-US. Donations made directly to ISPS-US are tax deductable to the extent allowable by law.


The Education Committee has held webinars on several topics. They are free for members, and nonmembers are asked for a donation. Topics so far have included:

Ancestral Maps, Meaning, and Messages Spiritual Frameworks for Extreme States

"Don’t React – Choose How to Relate to Distressing Voices!" With Mark Hayward

"Comprehend, Cope, and Connect," an experience based approach to psychosis, with Isabel Clarke

Process Oriented Approaches to Altered and Extreme States of Consciousness, with John Herold

Online Courses

Online Courses by Ron Unger, LCSW 50% of your tuition goes directly to support ISPS-US.

CBT for Psychosis: An Online Course

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for psychosis is an evidence-based method to reduce distress and disability related to psychotic experiences, and to support a possible full recovery. 5 hours/5 CEs, which you complete on your own time, with lifetime access to all course materials. Use this link for more information and to register - 50% of your tuition directly supports ISPS-US!

Working with Trauma, Dissociation, and Psychosis

A large body of research now indicates that trauma can be a cause of psychosis, with dissociation playing an important role. This online course will help you understand how this happens, and how to use CBT and other approaches to support work toward recovery. 6 hours/6 CEs. Use this link for more information and to register - 50% of your tuition directly supports ISPS-US!

Addressing Spiritual Issues Within Treatment For Psychosis and Bipolar

Crisis in the mind raises deep questions that are often understood as spiritual. Learn culturally competent and recovery-oriented ways of engaging with people around these issues in this online course. 6 hours/6 CEs. Use this link for more information and to register.

Videos are now available from the ISPS-US 17th Annual Meeting

Free videos are available on our YouTube channel:

Videos for sale or rent are available on Vimeo:

Free audio files are available on our blog:

Paid audio files will be posted here later.

More videos and audio files will be posted so check back for updates. ISPS-US members get a 50% discount on paid videos. The code is in your welcome letter, or email Karen Stern for more information:

If you find our free resources helpful, please make a donation to ISPS-US:

Videos of the keynote presentations that were recorded at the 20th International Congress of the ISPS in Liverpool, August 2017 are available on the ISPS UK YouTube channel:

There is also a 'What is psychosis' film clip that might be a very valuable tool for events and trainings, as it's a good springboard for discussion.

Please sign Brian Koehler's Petition:

APA Drop the Stigmatizing Term "Schizophrenia"

Sign the Petition

Institutional Members

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A Way Out of Madness
Dealing With Your Family After You've Been Diagnosed With A Psychiatric Disorder

A Way Out of Madness

Co-Written and Co-Edited by Daniel Mackler and Matthew Morrissey

Family conflict can wreak havoc on people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. A Way Out of Madness offers guidance in resolving family conflict and taking control of your life. The book also includes personal accounts of family healing by people who were themselves psychiatrically diagnosed. This is the first book in our ISPS-US Book Series. Paperback now available. For more information or to purchase>>