News & Reflections

Alison Summers- an appreciation

Alison Summers and Alf Gillham stepped down from the ISPS UK Committee at the November AGM. We would like to thank both of them for their work, dedication and passion over the years. Whilst they have left the Committee, we very much hope they will stay on within the broader ISPS UK ‘family’.

Here, Bill McGowan, ISPS UK Committee member, shares some thoughts about Alison:

‘I first met Alison when I joined the ISPS UK Committee in 2008. She was then acting chair as the group were in a transition period recovering from a series of set backs. This proved to be a prolonged and difficult period for the group and there was a palpable air of demoralisation around.

Alison kept the helm, contained the group and ensured that the business was done and a good standard of service provided to its members was maintained. When a further crisis hit the group, we looked to her and she graciously agreed to formally become chairperson. From that point on Alison worked progressively to encourage and strengthen the resolve of the group to move on and she worked assiduously to consult and find a way of harnessing the varied talents of the group members. Her intuitive and humanitarian impulses played a large part in enabling her to get the best out of the group particularly during the difficult periods.

Alison recruited new members to supplement the then existing expertise pool within the committee and facilitated the development of an appropriate organisational structure underpinned by a values framework, with aims and goals and work streams to match. These developments proved to be transformative and engendered a sense of optimism and a renewed sense of direction for the group. It moved us from the historical position of running a charity to being responsible for delivering a service dedicated to bringing about change in the field of psychosis.

When I was asked to write a few paragraphs about Alison’s contribution to the ISPS UK Committee, I baulked at the thought of trying to squeeze someone like Alison into such a tight space. If you are left feeling that there must be something more to be said, you are right, in which case, go to the Autumn  Edition of the ISPS International Newsletter 2018 and read Brian Martindale’s erudite account of his experience of working with Alison and Alf Gillham’s more personal account.

We are grateful to Alison for her steadfast commitment during her period with the ISPS UK Committee and for the legacy which she has left for Akiko to build upon. On behalf of the committee I wish to thank her most sincerely for her almost effortless inspirational leadership. We will miss you but wish you well with your next set of challenges!’

Bill McGowan

ISPS UK Committee Member

Free resource on healing psychological trauma

A new, free-to-use guide to the healing of psychological trauma is available to download. It comprises information, approaches to healing and resources together with links to selected clinicians, organisations, projects and support groups. It is designed to make a useful contribution within the developing field of trauma-informed services to the training and support of staff across a range of institutions whose work can be impacted by trauma, and via self-help material, to trauma sufferers themselves.

It is the outcome of a collaborative research project coordinated by Ann Jordan (educator, social justice campaigner and researcher) which aims to address some of the failings of current treatments of psychological trauma. Various members of ISPS have offered advice and guidance, and the resource is very much seen as one of the ways in which the 2017 Liverpool conference can be taken forward.

“It offers some viable alternatives to the predominantly biomedical model,” explains Ann. “The focus is on actual healing v. treatment. This compilation is not prescriptive or exhaustive; there is plenty of scope for development and further research findings will be incorporated.”

You can download the pdf here: Healing Psychological Trauma.

Advanced Studies Seminar: ‘Surviving student life as a voice-hearer’

The Educational Voice-hearing Network’s next Advanced Studies Seminar will take place on Wednesday 28th November (10 am – 4 pm) at St Catherine’s College, Oxford University. The title of this seminar is ‘Surviving student life as a voice-hearer’. You can book your free place here.

Psychosis & Institutional Racism- ISPS UK Conference and AGM

Institutional racism is sometimes viewed as the elephant in the room in mental health and psychosis. We know that people from racialised minorities are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, more likely to be subject to the Mental Health Act, and more likely to be restrained or be under a Community Treatment Order. And yet- it seems to many working or campaigning in the field that we have failed to address these issues, and that too little has changed over the past few decades.

How do start talking about and addressing institutional racism, when so often it can feel invisible or taboo? How does institutional racism affect people who use services, but also family members and carers, and professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, OTs, HCAs etc) who deliver services? What are the barriers which stop us talking about it – and how do we address what we struggle to recognise?

This day will encourage discussion & reflection on how institutional racism plays out in the field of psychosis, from multiple perspectives. We will reflect on how we can name it, and how, together, we can start to find ways of addressing it.

Book your ticket here


Dr Suman Fernando, Honorary Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, London Metropolitan University and former (retired) consultant psychiatris

Dr Philip Thomas and Dr Alison Faulkner on the Privilege, Partiality and Power of Whiteness

Sara Haq on Complex Subjectivities and Survival Strategies for Collective/Cultural Psychosis

Dr Colin King

Other speakers tbc

Followed by ISPS UK AGM, 17.00-17.30

All are welcome to attend

Details of the day:

Coffee and lunch will be provided. Please contact us if you have any questions about the day or access.

£10 for ISPS UK members, £30 full price, £10 concessions.

Book your ticket here.


NEW ISPS book: CBT for Psychosis, Process-orientated Therapies and the Third Wave

A new ISPS book has been published: CBT for Psychosis, Process-orientated Therapies and the Third Wave, edited by Caroline Cupitt.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for psychosis is constantly changing and evolving. Recently, in what is sometimes called the ‘third wave’, therapy has become more concerned with the individual’s relationship to their experience, rather than with the content of it. This more process–orientated approach appears to tap into universal psychological processes. The aim is to reduce distress by changing the function of the experience, rather than necessarily the experience itself. Written by some of the leading figures from around the world, CBT for Psychosis: Process-Orientated Therapies and the Third Wave brings the reader the latest developments in the field.

Presented in three parts, CBT for Psychosis first explores theoretical perspectives on recent developments in cognitive behavioural therapies. Part two examines specific therapeutic approaches, including metacognitive training, mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy, compassion focused therapy and the method of levels. Finally, part three presents two critical perspectives: the first offering a reflection on the experience of receiving CBT, and the second looking ahead to possible future developments.

Offering a cutting-edge collection of theoretical, therapeutic and critical perspectives, CBT for Psychosis: Process-Orientated Therapies and the Third Wave will be of great interest to clinical and counselling psychologists, both practising and in training, as well as psychiatrists, nurse therapists, occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals working with people experiencing psychosis.

You can buy it at a discounted price here. If you are interested in reviewing it, please contact us.

ISPS Book Series: Series Editor Vacancy

We are looking for a new honorary co-editor for the ISPS book series, published with Routledge, to help continue to expand and develop this important strand of ISPS’s work. There are now over twenty books published in the series, further books commissioned, and a number of proposals under consideration.
The opportunity has arisen as one of our two co-editors, Alison Summers, will soon retire. The person appointed now will work in partnership with the second current co-editor, Anna Lavis. The book series co-editors work alongside a separate editorial advisor for the academic monograph series, currently Andrew Moskowitz. We also have the invaluable support of an editorial board, with members drawn from a variety of disciplines and perspectives.
We are seeking someone with a good understanding of the ethos of ISPS, whose interest in psychological and social aspects of psychosis is relatively broad and who has experience of writing on these topics. The co-editor needs to be able to respond to submitted manuscripts within a short time frame, and to deal with email communications promptly.
For further information, or to express interest in the role, please contact Anna Lavis and Alison Summers. To express an interest, please send a letter outlining why you would be interested in the role and the strengths that you would bring to it, alongside a curriculum vitae, by 31st August 2018.
Person Spec:
  • A commitment to ISPS’s aims and willingness to become a member of ISPS;
  • Knowledge of recent developments in the treatment of, and/or academic research into, psychosis;
  • The ability to write clearly and lucidly on mental health topics;
  • Written and spoken English to the standard of a native speaker;
  • Excellent communication skills;
  • Previous experience of publishing, editing or peer reviewing.
Role Outline:
Series editing tasks shared with co-editor include:
  • Identifying topics for new books; approaching potential editors/authors; responding to unsolicited suggestions
  • Giving feedback on draft proposals, book chapters and manuscripts.
  • Liaising with authors over the progress of work and answering author queries promptly
  • Liaising with Routledge re proposals, sales, finances, contracts
  • Liaising with co-editor, and with the ISPS International Organiser Antonia Svensson, who provides a few hours’ support per month to the series editors. In addition to email, currently we are meeting by Skype, approximately quarterly
  • Reporting to the ISPS International Executive Committee
  • Liaising with the editorial board
Time Commitment:
Variable; average commitment perhaps two days per month.
None. Series editors receive up to £300 per annum expenses, and three copies of each book that comes out during their editorship. They have recently also been offered a free place at the ISPS international conference.

Update on the Young Voices Study at Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester Metropolitan University Young Voices Study is just coming to the end of the pilot phase, during which the researchers wanted to gain a better understanding from young people about their experiences of hearing voices, as well as hearing from parents/carers. Through interviews and an online survey, they heard from over 100 young people and parents about varied experiences of voice hearing, additional sensory experiences that accompany voices, difficulties accessing tailored help for young people under 14 years old and many accounts of creative avenues that help young people cope (e.g. music, running, writing). They have a new PhD student joining the study in September to explore multiple sensory experiences with young people and are currently seeking funding to establish some support groups in the Northwest.

For more information on the study, including links on how to take part, please click here.


‘Compassion & Compulsion’: ISPS UK event in Preston on 31st July

‘Compassion & Compulsion: exploring the tensions faced by service users & clinicians when people experience psychosis.’

Come and join us at an ISPS UK event in Preston, Lancashire, on the 31st July, from 18.00 to 20.00. FREE for ISPS members, tickets £6 or £4 (low waged). You can book your ticket here.

Professor David Pilgrim from Liverpool University will do a presentation about the issues faced by mental health services when using coercion. Jen Kilyon and Neil Caton, both ISPS UK Committee Members, will then give a response to the paper after which we will open up to questions and comments from the audience.

David Pilgrim is Honorary Professor of Health and Social Care, University of Liverpool and Visiting Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Southampton. He has published extensively in the field of mental health policy.

Jen Kilyon campaigns for genuine informed choice in mental health care where those who need it can be in a safe place that is right for them. She promotes respectful non-judgemental and family/network inclusive approaches to psychosis such as Open Dialogue. Jen is an ISPS UK and Soteria Network Trustee and helped to set up the first Soteria House in the UK.

Neil Caton has lived experience of psychosis and has several experiences of being admitted to psychiatric unit, one of which was compulsory. He will explore his experience of these admissions. Neil has worked as an involvement worker for the early intervention service. He has been an ISPS UK trustee for 5 years and runs a hearing voices and paranoia group in Chorley.

Book Review of ‘A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: a True Story of Schizophrenia’ by Sandra Allen

Review by Jessica Pons, ISPS UK member

Her family cast Uncle Bob as a drug abusing, ‘crazy’ misfit. After reading his life story (after he hounds her to try and get it published), Sandra questions this stereotype she’s learnt to accept and begins a journey of getting to know her uncle for herself.

Through reading his diaries and talking to him about his memories, it becomes apparent his stories are not the ‘delusions’ they initially appeared. At times Bob questions the validity of his diagnosis. I particularly like the way he talks about his medication: sometimes he wants to take it, whereas other times he’s not keen. Sandra allows Bob’s story to flow without neatly fitting into one model of thought around what it means to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Sandra shows a burgeoning critical mental health gaze. She begins to see past the lens of his diagnosis and through putting together his story, her beliefs regarding schizophrenia are challenged. She becomes more comfortable with having more questions than answers, more grey than black and white. This uncertainty is representative, I think, of where we’re up to when thinking about sensory experiences and strong beliefs.

A book that shows the vagaries of time and truth, I think Sandra Allen does her Uncle Bob justice in this version of his autobiography. Sandra tries to stay as close as possible to her uncle’s narrative. I think she gets the balance right between allowing the book to tie together, and allowing her uncle’s creativity and voice to come through.

ISPS UK is recruiting Trustees to join its Board

ISPS UK promotes psychological and social approaches to psychosis. We provide a place where professionals, people with lived experience of psychosis, family members and carers can share their ideas, hopes and struggles, and can examine their differences in constructive dialogue and debate. Our work includes organising national and regional conferences and workshops on key issues, supporting the development of local groups and special interest groups and promoting good practice in psychological approaches to psychosis.

If you are passionate about creating a paradigm shift in how we understand and treat psychosis, and can spare a half day a month, please consider joining us.

To apply to be a Trustee, please download our Trustee recruitment pack and send a CV and a covering letter to, by no later than Thursday 31st May.

Interviews will take place on the 12th and 13th June.

For an informal conversation about the role or organisation, please email us to arrange a chat with Akiko Hart.

We would especially welcome applications from those with extensive experience in any of the following areas:

  • Governance
  • Employment law
  • Financial planning and control
  • Event/conference management
  • Marketing and media relations

As ISPS UK is a membership organisation representing and bringing together a broad variety of people, we would especially welcome applications from individuals who

  • identify as having lived experience
  • are family members or carers
  • are psychiatrists
  • identify as BAME