ISPS UK Executive Committee

We have 15 executive committee members  who are elected to serve for a 4 year term of office.  They come from many different lay and professional backgrounds:

AngelaAngela Drizi

Angela is a former Director of Education with Westminster City Council and also had responsibility for Commissioning of Children’s Services for the borough. Now recently retired, she has over 35 years experience of working in Local Government. In recent years she was particularly involved in the commissioning of mental health services working with the NHS, public sector and the not for profit sector specifically developing non medical services to support children and young people with mental health issues. Her own experiences with mental health services developed as a result of her daughter receiving a diagnosis of psychosis and since then she has advocated strongly for holistic and therapeutic approaches to support young people and adults through their journey. Angela was particularly attracted to the international approaches in ISPS as a constructive network and platform for developing better understanding learning from and within the national and international communities.


AlfAlf Gillham

Alf is a retired Consultant Clinical Psychologist, having worked in the NHS for 35 years.  He has a long standing interest in psychosis especially in psycho-dynamic and psychological approaches to understanding it.  This has led to a long standing interest in emotion and psychosis, which led to him contributing as one of the editors of the book: Psychosis and Emotion, part of the ISPS book series.  Alf has been fortunate to attend three of the ISPS international conferences and has found them to be unique and amongst the best conferences that he has been to.  In the 80s Alf did psychoanalytic training at the Scottish Institute of Human Relations.  He has taught on the Clinical Psychology training course in Glasgow University for 25 years. Alf has been on the committee since 2007. He currently lives in both Scotland and Greece and has 18 year old twins.


Jen KilyonJen Kilyon

Jen became involved in ISPS about 6 years ago when she first heard about the organisation. She was attracted by its international nature because she believes there is a huge amount we can learn from other cultures and how they approach mental distress. She also appreciated the fact that the organisation welcomed all those committed to promoting a more humane approach to psychosis regardless of their status or allegiance to a “psychological model”. She first became involved in campaigning for more choice in mental health services around 10 years ago when her son first experienced psychosis. She was shocked at what passed for “treatment” and felt the need to move on from my 30 years as an educationalist to become an activist for change in this system. She has worked on many local and national projects and is also a trustee for the Soteria Network where she is helping to set up the first UK Soteria House.


Bill McGowanBill McGowan

Bill has been a mental health educationalist for the past 30 years.  He recently retired as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton, where he taught across the full range of pre-registration and undergraduate mental health nursing and post graduate health and social care courses. His remit also included masters and doctoral research supervision. Bill’s work also included consultancy, training, research and organisational development within the voluntary sector and during this time, he developed a particular interest in the promotion of resilience and positive mental health through befriending or social mentoring initiatives.  Bill was interested in the ‘design of atmosphere’ within care settings and the application of therapeutic community principles to mainstream mental health care settings and was a member of the Editorial Group of Therapeutic Communities (International Journal for Therapeutic and Support Organisations) between 1994 and 2005.  He developed an interested in innovative and creative approaches to teaching and learning particularly in the area of ‘social learning’ and in the challenges presented by the mainstreaming of carer/user  ‘experts by experience’ within professional educational programmes. Bill had a modest publication output but focused his energy on presenting papers regularly at local, national and international conferences and developed a strong conference organizing portfolio over 25 years.

Bill has been a committee member of the ISPS UK group for the past five years and is currently involved with colleagues in setting up the first Mental Health Nursing Conference within the ISPS UK Conference programme.


Alison SummersAlison Summers

Alison is a psychodynamic therapist and psychiatrist working in an NHS psychotherapy service and with the charity Freedom from Torture. Her current work is mainly as a psychotherapist but previously she worked for over eleven years as a consultant psychiatrist in an Early Intervention psychosis team. Within ISPS UK, Alison has been chair of the UK network since 2013, and a Trustee for several years before this.  She also co-edits the ISPS book series and is co-ordinating the planning group for the 2017 international conference.

Clive TravisClive Travis

Clive is from Bedford and graduated with a PhD in Physics at Surrey University in 1989. He then worked on military defence projects at MoD sites for some years. In 1994 he became ill with paranoid schizophrenia which he battled purposefully for 10 years. He is well aware of the power and benefits of psychological treatments for example from his work with Talking 2 Minds where he is a patron but he was not lucky enough to receive any of these during this time.

In 2004 he finally found a medication which he was happy to take voluntarily and this has enabled him to re-establish himself in the health and social care industry as an “expert patient” for example as a member of the XbX (Experts by Experience) group at the University of Bedfordshire where he is currently chair. He is eager to push the agenda for psychological treatments whilst he keeps mentally and physically fit, by keeping active in the expert patient arena and by his marathon running.


Judith VarleyJudith Varley

Judith has been a carer for 15 years, a former academic, always working and researching in health related areas. She is very aware of increasing health inequalities in England, particularly those experienced by disadvantaged people including those disabled by mental health problems.  The parity between physical and mental health continue to be empty promises, so she is passionate about social justice and recovery to enable ‘service users’ and their families achieve a genuine quality of life in line with their own definitions and goals as true partners as in the Triangle of Care.  Judith wants to see much more constructive innovative support to facilitate those objectives like those exemplified by dialogical approaches and social enterprises.  She developed a business plan and raised £300K to build a social enterprise offering paid employment for those recovering from mental health distress.


Rachel “Rai” Waddingham

Rai is a trainer and consultant specialising in developing respectful approaches to supporting those who struggle with voices, visions, overwhelming beliefs and post-traumatic reactions. She managed the London Hearing Voices Project from 2007 – 2015, where she launched an innovative project developing a sustainable network of Hearing Voices Groups in London’s prisons and forensic hospitals as well as establishing Voice Collective to creatively support children and young people who hear voices, and their families. Rai is a media spokesperson, a trustee of the National Hearing Voices Network and a co-opted board member of Intervoice. She hears voices, sees visions and – during her 20s – spent years in hospital diagnosed with schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder. Rai is passionate about the role of self help and peer support in recovery from extreme states of mind. She is committed to increasing the range of alternatives within, and without, the mental health system. For more information, see


Ann ScottAnn Scott

Ann is a Senior Member of the British Psychotherapy Foundation and a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice, primarily working intensively. She has been Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Psychotherapy since 2009, and has a longstanding interest in psychosis and the understanding of psychosis.  Ann worked initially as an editor for the psychoanalytic publishing company Free Association Books, and before training clinically worked full-time as a nursing assistant on the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit of a state psychiatric hospital in the US.  While working at FAB she collaborated with the writer and painter Mary Barnes on Something Sacred: Conversations, Writings, Paintings (1989), continuing the story charted in Barnes’ earlier collaborative book with Joe Berke, Mary Barnes: Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness.  She is also the author of Real Events Revisited: Fantasy, Memory and Psychoanalysis (1996).

From 2007-2015 she was on the staff of WPF Therapy in London, working as a seminar leader and clinical assessor, and as a clinical supervisor of psychotherapy trainees. She is currently a member of the British Psychoanalytic Council’s Advisory Group on Research and Evidence, working with colleagues on the collation and dissemination of research on psychoanalytic psychotherapy.


Cathy EnglishCathy English

Cathy is an associate specialist psychiatrist who has worked in community mental health and addiction services in Cornwall for over 20 years. Choosing a speciality doctor pathway in psychiatry has meant that her focus has always been on direct clinical work rather than career progression or academic research.  She took up her current post with the early intervention in psychosis team 4 years ago and it was then that she learnt about the work of ISPS whose beliefs and values comfortably fitted with her own. Through contact with the organisation and attendance at training events she has been inspired and supported in her clinical work.

Cathy has a long standing interest in performing and visual arts and enjoy working collaboratively with creative practitioners on ‘arts for health’ style projects.


Neil ThomasNeil Thomas

Neil is a Senior Assessment Worker and Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) for STEP (Somerset’s Team for Early Psychosis). This lead into Neil taking notice of ISPS, which he then readily joined.

His first experiences with management at a Divisional level came when he was Area Union Representative (by election) for the Communication Workers Union for Royal Mail (three years).   His following experiences of organisational development came when Neil became Student Liaison Representative for his Nursing cohorts; and from his second year he was elected Chair of the Student Liaison Committee for Nursing, Health and Social Care for University of Plymouth (two years).

For the last seven years he has been conspicuously involved in the Time to Change Campaign, targeting Colleges and Universities in his locality, supporting MIND and RETHINK, with their coordination.  As part of the National NHS Five Ways to Wellbeing Campaign, he became part of the strategy planning committee.

Since his employment with STEP, he considers that his psychosocial and psychological approaches to support individuals through their journey of psychosis have developed to become the main foundation of his practice.  Neil is currently playing an active role in the introduction of Open Dialogue within the STEP service.

With these skills he is confident of his capabilities to take on this new challenge to assist in steering an effective strategy for involving Nurses in the ISPS UK.


Val JacksonVal Jackson

Systemic psychotherapist, supervisor, trainer and UKCP registered.

Before qualifying as a family therapist in 2003 Val worked as an occupational therapist, mostly in mental health services in the UK and overseas. When she heard Jaakko Seikkula talk about Open Dialogue in Harrogate in 2003 it immediately made sense to her, and she spent the next 11 years trying to spread the word, unable to understand why such a logical approach wasn’t being used in the UK. From 2006 to March 2015 she worked in the Early Intervention in Psychosis Service in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Val is currently involved in coordinating and teaching on the Foundation Diploma in Peer supported Open Dialogue, Network and Relational skills. She is also a trainee trainer on the Open Dialogue UK 3 year course.

Val had an aunt with a diagnosis of schizophrenia who lived and died in an asylum. She never met her, and her aunt was never talked about and maybe this is why she is passionate about developing better services for families and clients.

Cycling, gardening, skiing and swimming also inspire her as do her family, friends and ‘Breaking Bad’!


Neil Caton

I have lived experience of psychosis and of early intervention services alongside other community services. I sit on various involvement groups. I have also worked as a service user consultant for the early intervention service where I ran an involvement group and contributed service user perspectives to various working groups. I work as a support worker so have a good empathy with other caring professionals. I am a current trustee of ISPS and have been for some years.

I am firmly committed to psycho social approaches to psychosis and have a special interest in Open Dialogue, The Hearing Voices Network and The Sorteria Network.

Abd-al-Jalil Kane Abdullah

I have had an interest in interventions for people suffering from psychosis since I was a teenager after my Uncle became unwell and was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. This had and continues to have a profound effect on my understanding of both Mental Health the societal system that surrounds it.

Although I originally have a Neuroscience and professional writing background, I developed an interest in psychosocial approaches to psychosis, and have been working for Community Housing and Therapy, who run five therapeutic communities for clients with Psychosis, for last five years. Both as a practitioner and in a managerial position I have developed an understanding of the importance the business and financial side has on the charity as well as the clinical practice within the services. More recently working as the Clinical Contracts Lead, I have been working with NHS and Local Authority Commissioners on promoting and marketing our services, as well as the Lead for CHT’s Post-Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy for Practitioners within a Therapeutic Environment, a two year work based diploma aimed to support staff in developing as practitioners working with psychosis from a psychoanalytic perspective.

John Read

I worked for nearly 20 years as a Clinical Psychologist and manager of mental health services in the UK and the USA, before joining the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in 1994, where I worked until 2013. I have served as Director of the Clinical Psychology professional graduate programmes at both Auckland and, more recently, the University of Liverpool.

I have published over 140 papers in research journals, primarily on the relationship between adverse life events (e.g. child abuse/neglect, poverty etc.) and psychosis. I also research the negative effects of bio-genetic causal explanations on prejudice, the opinions and experiences of recipients of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medication, and the role of the pharmaceutical industry in mental health research and practice. I have been on the international Executive Committee of ISPS since 2003 and the Editor of the ISPS’s scientific journal ‘Psychosis’ since 2009. My books include: READ, J., DILLON, J. (eds.). (2013). Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis, 2nd edition. Routledge.


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