Getting to Know the People Making a Difference: Lisa Dixon is One!

How to best help people with psychosis is a controversial subject, so what some people see as “progress” other people might see as a bad idea.

But we need to talk about it, to understand what different people are thinking, and why.  That’s why the international conference of ISPS in NYC in March 2015 emphasizes dialogue, and why we hope you think about attending!

Lisa Dixon will be one of the plenary speakers at that conference.  She has been very active in the field, though people like myself wonder if some of her work hasn’t at times been more damaging that helpful – for example, that some of the “Assertive Community Treatment” and early intervention in psychosis she has been involved in might push drugs too hard, or that the Family to Family program within NAMI that Lisa has advocated for might have pushed a biological model in a dogmatic and unhelpful way.  Still, most would agree that many of her ideas are quite progressive, and some might like all of her ideas – and all of us might benefit from discussion about what works, and what doesn’t!

Here’s what the ISPS leadership had to say about Lisa:

We are so pleased to have Dr. Lisa Dixon as one of our plenary speakers.

Her work over the past 25 years has spanned wide areas of research and practice in psychosocial treatments for people with mental illness. She is currently the Director of the Center for Practice Innovations of the New York State Psychiatric Institute. The Center is a collaboration between Columbia University and the Office of Mental Health of New York State, and provides training and follow up support to NY agencies implementing evidence based practices for people with mental illness, such as assertive community treatment, the IPS model of supported employment, and wellness self management.

Recently she was also one of the principal researchers in NIMH’s Recovery After Initial Schizophrenic Episode (RAISE) study, and based on that research she initiated OnTrackNY, a new treatment program for teens and young adults experiencing a first psychotic episode. The program seeks to keep these young people out of the mainstream mental health system, utilizing a shared decision making model of treatment.

Prior to that, Dr. Dixon led a RCT research study confirming the effectiveness of NAMI’s Family-to-Family Program, which provides peer education, empowerment, and support.

Dr. Dixon has written and collaborated on over 200 articles in areas related to serious mental disorders: substance misuse, suicide, wellness, peer support, multi-family groups, recovery, smoking cessation, veterans and PTSD, diabetes and other medical problems, spirituality, sexuality, and stigma, as well as an appreciation of our esteemed ISPS colleague Wayne Fenton on his passing, in the October 2006 issue of Psychiatric Services.

For a listing and citations of Dr. Dixon’s work: 
See for information on the Center for Practice Innovations.

ISPS NY 2015     #isps2015nyc

Abstract submission deadline: October 1st 

About Ron Unger

I am a licensed clinical social worker and therapist who works with people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, using a respectful and skill building approach called cognitive therapy for psychosis. I also talk and teach seminars related to this approach. You can read more about me and about how I became interested in this field by going to my blog,, and clicking on the tab "about Ron Unger."
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