ISPS – A brief background

ISPS began as a series of symposia held in Europe in the 1950s and 60s, which brought together psychiatrists, psychotherapists and others who were interested in a psychological approach to understanding and treating people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. This was in contrast to the relentless pursuit of biological explanations of psychosis within psychiatry generally, and ‘established a dialogue with young, open, non-dogmatic psychiatrists from different countries’.

Today ISPS is an international organization promoting psychotherapy and psychological treatments for persons with schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions. There are established networks in 16 countries across Europe, Asia, the USA and New Zealand, and a number of emerging groups in other countries. Further information about these is available on its website www.isps.org

ISPS continues to hold a major international conference every two or three years. Recent hosts have included Melbourne (2003), Madrid (2006), Copenhagen (2009), Dubrovnik (2011) and Warsaw (2013). In 2009 ISPS launched a major international journal Psychosis, published by Routledge, which members receive at a significantly reduced rate.

ISPS also publishes a major book series on psychological approaches to psychosis, which members can buy at a reduced rate. In 2010 one of the books, Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Schizophrenic Psychoses edited by Alanen et al, was ‘highly commended’ by the British Medical Association. One of the assessors wrote: ‘If I were to recommend a single book on psychotherapeutic approaches to psychosis it would be this one because it is eclectic and open- minded in approach and a credit to the editors and contributors.’

The UK network of ISPS was launched in 1997, when the 12th International ISPS Symposium was held in London. It became a registered UK Charity in 2004, with a elected committee including mental health professionals, service users and carers. ISPS UK organizes one or two day-conferences a year and holds a residential conference every 2-3 years. It publishes its own Newsletter and hosts an email discussion group. Meetings of local networks are held in several regions of the UK -see Local Networks page for details.