News & Reflections

ISPS UK AGM and New Chair

On 13th November 2017, ISPS UK held its AGM. We presented a summary of our work and finances since we became an Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) in February 2017.

The international conference in Liverpool has been our main undertaken this year. It was a huge success in the sense of attracting over 550 registrations from people from a wide range of backgrounds, providing a very rich programme with over 200 presentations, and receiving a great deal of positive feedback on the value of the experience. We were very glad to be able to offer a much higher number of free and subsidised places than ever before at an ISPS conference, and to have for the first time offered a number of arrangements specifically to support delegates who come alone or find such gatherings intimidating .  Although we don’t yet have final accounts, it is clear that the conference has also been successful financially.   However we’re also aware the conference had limitations. Despite efforts to keep costs low by doing much of organisation ‘in house’ the cost of attending such an event deters many people, even sometimes despite bursaries available to cover fees.

In addition to organising events, we have undertaken other steps which we hope will eventually contribute to our aims.

One such step has been attempting to increase awareness of ISPS.  We have done this through the vehicle of wide promotion of the international conference, through the use of the ‘Liverpool declaration’ which outlines the kind of changes that the conference sought to promote, and also through preparation of videos from the conference which will be used for wider dissemination of the ISPS message.

Another such step has been to try and increase the participation in ISPS UK of people who identify as BAME.  We were pleased to be awarded a grant from ISPS international for a project to do this through a number of measures including meetings with local groups sponsorship of conference places, and follow up events.

A third step has been to take time within the committee to try and increase our sensitivity to the dynamics of power and privilege within a diverse organisation, and of how language may perpetuate these.  This has seemed an important task for an organisation which has as a core aim of bringing together different perspectives.

Akiko Hart was co-opted as a new trustee in July 2017 and was confirmed as Chair at the AGM. We are immensely grateful to Alison Summers who finished her four year term of office as Chair.  In accordance with our new CIO constitution, a quarter of our trustees will now stand down from the committee each year.  This autumn we are very sorry to be saying goodbye to Ann Scott, Cathy English, Angela Drizi and Judith Varley, and would like to thank them for all that they have given to ISPS UK.   Additional trustees will be appointed following an internal assessment of the Committee’s skills.

London Event: Placing Psychosocial Approaches to Psychosis at the Heart of the NHS

On Monday 13th November, we held an evening of discussion and reflection on the challenges of placing pscyhosocial approaches to psychosis at the heart of the NHS.

Our guest panel featured ISPS UK Committee Members John Read and Neil Caton as well as founder of Drayton Park Crisis House founder Shirley McNichols. Over 50 people joined us in the Rotunda Room in Blackfriars Living Space, including many from the ISPS UK membership.

A core aim of ISPS UK is to promote social and psychological approaches to psychosis – yet in a culture of increasing cuts and short term fixes, this is no easy task. We discussed some of these tensions and challenges, as well some practical steps we can all take to address them.

Liverpool Declaration

Making Real Change Happen

This conference is driven by our belief that fundamental change are needed if people who experience psychosis are to have their psychological and social care needs met adequately. The following statement, our ‘Liverpool Declaration’ sets out our beliefs about the kind of changes that are needed.  Individuals who would like to express support, please pledge support by going to the conference website and clicking on the link on the home page ‘Making Real Change Happen’

ISPS Liverpool Declaration

We share a number of core principles and positions:
The nature of psychosis: We believe that the current paradigm in understanding the causes and nature of psychosis focuses too much on biological perspectives and not enough on social and psychological perspectives. Social and psychological experiences continue to be viewed as simply ‘triggering’ underlying disease processes, a perspective no longer supported by research. We believe that the time has come to reverse the balance – which we believe will lead to a fuller and more accurate understanding of these conditions. A more accurate understanding of the causes and nature of psychosis will be found by emphasizing psychological and social perspectives, while not ignoring biological perspectives

The treatment of psychosis:  We believe that the preferred treatment of psychosis should be social and psychological interventions, with biological interventions (including medications) used sparingly,. There is now strong evidence for the efficacy of non-medical interventions, which should always be a part of every treatment plan for a person diagnosed with a psychotic disorder
Prevention of psychosis: We believe that the most efficient and cost-effective means of reducing or preventing psychosis would be to develop programs to help families and societies raise their young children, to minimize the adverse experiences that are now clearly related to the development of psychosis.

The role of the person diagnosed: We believe that individuals diagnosed with psychotic disorders (or any other mental disorder) are no less a person and no less deserving of respect than those not given a diagnosis. They, and their family (if supportive), must be as involved as much as possible in decisions about their treatment. Collaboration should be the hallmark of any approach, and persons should be offered as much choice as possible about how best to deal with the problems they are experiencing.

Political and social action: On the basis of these positions, we commit to advocate for more social and psychological approaches to the psychoses, and to increasing the public and professional understanding of psychosis as being largely a response to life experiences. We commit to advocate to government agencies for this to happen, to support research consistent with this perspective, and to use media and respond to media stories when appropriate. We support the increasing expectation of at least parity with physical health in the provision of resources for mental health disorders and for research.  Resources for psychosocial interventions should be proportionate to the evidence base for their effectiveness.

We hope that the implementation of these principles could lead to a paradigm shift in the treatment and understanding of those among us who experience psychotic symptoms or who are diagnosed with psychotic disorders.

ISPS, July 2017.

Liverpool 2017: List of parallel sessions and presentations now available!

We are pleased to announce this year’s parallel sessions during our Liverpool 2017 international conference.
The document shows both the oral presentations, followed by posters and contain the following categories:

  • Lived experience perspectives
  • Arts and arts therapies
  • Families and family therapies
  • Psychological therapies
  • Mental health services and treatments
  • Understanding psychosis: conceptual issues and empirical research
  • Society’s response to psychosis: conceptual issues and theoretical framework
  • ISPS book series authors

You can download the full document here



ISPSUK joins call for better access to psychological therapy

ISPS UK, as part of the We Need to Talk Coalition, is one of 20 leading mental health organisations calling for better access to psychological therapy.  All political parties have been urged to ensure their manifestos recognise this urgent need.  Here is the text of the press release:

20 leading mental health organisations call for better access to psychological therapy

  • Commitment to increasing access to psychological therapy for children and adults urgently needed in every party manifesto.
  • We Need To Talk also calls for shorter waiting times, better quality provision, and joined up services.
  • Despite NHS targets increasing, most people with mental health issues still can’t access therapy.

Ahead of the General Election on the 8 June 2017, We Need To Talk, a coalition of 20 mental health charities, professional organisations, Royal Colleges and service users has issued an urgent plea for more access to psychological therapies on the NHS.

We Need To Talk is calling for increased access to services and greater capacity, a maximum 28 day waiting time target, quality services  including more therapy sessions, more choice, and properly trained therapists  and joined up services to stop people getting lost between child and adult services.

The NHS target to provide psychological therapy to those with common mental health conditions is set to rise to 25 per cent by 2020 (from 15 percent), but most people still won’t be helped. Even in cases of severe mental illness, like psychosis, around half of people do not receive psychological therapy or have to wait over six and even 12 weeks to receive the care they need.

A document detailing what the coalition is specifically asking for can be found here.

Peer Supported Open Dialogue Conference 2017

March  22nd  Regents  Hall  Oxford  Street  London

The  annual  Peer  Supported  Open  Dialogue  Conference  will  be  an  even  bigger  and  better  event  than  the  preceding  conferences, since as  a  movement  we  are  growing…..

The  March  Conference  will  highlight  the  exciting  development  of  the  last  year:  the  expansion  of  Open  Dialogue  trainings.  The  NELFT (AFT  accredited  course) will  now  be relocated  and  University  based  with  a  new  tranche  of  trainees  both  NHS  employed  and  international commencing in  January  2017.

We  are  on  the  verge  of  receiving  the  grant  to  run  the  largest  Open  Dialogue  Randomised  Controlled  Trial  (RCT)  in  the  world  within  the  NHS.  The POD  teams  have  been  trained and  are  being  established  in  Kent  (KMPT)  and  the North  East  London  Foundation  Trust  (NELFT)  to provide  the  basis  for  the  research.

The  POD  Conference  will  be  run as  a  series  of  dialogues  between  clinicians  and  service  users  with  the  focus  being  on  the  core  principles  of  Open  Dialogue to  help  gain  a  clearer  understanding  of  the  tenets  of  the  model. In  the  afternoon  we  have  a  special  guest  Professor  Doug  Zeidonis  from  the  University  of  Massachusetts Medical  School who  has  led  work  on  the  fidelity  criteria  for  Open  Dialogue, with  Mary  Olsen  and  Jaakko Seikkula.

The  Conference  has  received  considerable  interest  from  commissioners,  carers,  service  users and NHS clinicians so  book  your  tickets  fast or  you  may  find  we  are  booked  out!

You can book your tickets here

Jane Hetherington

Peer-Supported Open Dialogue Conference 2017

It’s that time of year again, when we start organising for our annual national POD conference. The 2017 event will be held at Regents Hall in Oxford St, London on March 22nd. We should have a number of commissioners and other senior NHS folk coming – now that we’re on the verge of receiving the largest grant for an Open Dialogue trial ever – and so we really want to showcase it again. This year we aim to run it as a series of dialogues, between a mix of clinicians and service users, with some focus on core principles. We’ll also have a special guest in the afternoon; Prof Doug Zeidonis from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who led the work on the fidelity criteria with Mary and Jaakko. And, as I write, there’s a chance Mary might be coming along as well.

Please go to the link below to book your tickets as soon as you can, and also please do promote and circulate it to your networks as widely as possible. Tickets are, again, on a donations only basis, which we have done to encourage as broad an attendance as possible, so please help us get the word out. You can book here.

Limited time offer for Savoy Conference




New Savoy 10th Anniversary Conference 

Psychological Therapies in the NHS

Wednesday 15th & Thursday 16th March 2017

Millennium Conference Centre, London





2017 marks the 10th anniversary for the New Savoy conferences: a decade in which we have seen industrialization of delivery models for evidence-based psychological therapies.  A decade ago we set out to reform mental health – the 2nd greatest revolution since closing the asylums: reducing the burden of depression through IAPT. Yet today we see unprecedented rates of anti-depressant prescribing and rising suicide rates. Where did we go wrong? We have invited some of the key players to reflect candidly on what we might have done differently, the serious challenges we face today, and their insights for the tough decade ahead.

Download more information through the flyer here