Beyond the Therapeutic State Conference (& CFP): Collaborative Practices for Individual and Social Change

June 26, 27, 28, 2014 in Drammen, Norway

Mental health costs are soaring, drug prescriptions skyrocketing, and diagnostic categories continue to convince us that we are mentally ill. It is time to move beyond the therapeutic state!

Most existing alternatives focus on the individual. In contrast, this conference will feature inspiring innovations in collaborative practice. Such practices bring together diverse conceptions of reality, values, and hopes for the future. From the inter-change emerge new forms of life, viable for all.

The conference will feature collaborative practices relevant to therapy and beyond.

Discussions will be enriched by practitioners and scholars from many sectors of society.

In the end, it is toward a relationally oriented society we must move. And it is toward active participation in changing both practices and policies that the conference is dedicated.


Conference collaborators:

  • The Taos Institute
  • Taos Institute Europe
  • Institute for Research in Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Buskerud University College (Norway)
  • Helsinki Psychotherapy Institute (Finland)
  • Familjevårdsstiftelsen (Family Care Foundation) (Sweden)
  • The Family Institute (UK)

cfp: We invite you to submit a proposal form (see below) to present a paper or a poster on your work or research.

We will accept and feature inspiring innovations in collaborative practice. Such practices invite into the therapeutic mix diverse conceptions of reality, values, and hopes for the future. They move toward inclusiveness, honoring the client’s voice, promoting dialogue, building family and community engagement, generating multiple routes toward betterment, and more. It is our hope for this conference that through broad sharing and lively dialogue, we will enrich our learning, foster new practices, and move toward political change. To fire the creative impulse we shall include collaboratively oriented practitioners, scholars, and service users from various sectors of society. It is toward active participation in transforming both practices and policies that the conference is dedicated. We will be looking for paper and poster presentations that contribute to this goal.

All posters and papers will be displayed and presented during a reception on Friday evening, June 27th. During this time, anyone presenting a paper or poster will have a space in which to set up their presentation, in a large reception hall. Participants will walk the gallery of papers/posters throughout the room and talk with you about your work. You may bring a computer and make slides available on your computer. (No LCD projectors available)

If you bring a paper to present, please make copies of the paper to distribute. If you are bringing a poster to present, please make the poster fit a 3 feet x 4 feet area.

Keynote Speakers

A Relational Recovery from the Rage to Order

Kenneth J. Gergen

When applied to human action, the empiricist worldview – with its accompanying zeal for prediction and control – is deeply flawed. Its injurious consequences are vividly realized in the domain of “mental health.” A social constructionist alternative to the empiricist worldview opens a space for creative reconstruction, and the development of collaborative alternatives to the failings of the therapeutic state.

Kenneth J. Gergen is a Senior Research Professor at Swarthmore College, and President of the Taos Institute. He has served as president of two divisions of the American Psychological Association, and the Associate Editor of both the American Psychologist, and Theory and Psychology. Gergen has been a major contributor to social constructionist theory and practice. Among his major works are Realities and relationships, soundings in social construction; The Saturated Self; and An invitation to social construction. His recent book, Relational being, beyond self and community, represents a major contribution to relational theory and practice. Gergen’s work has merited numerous awards, including honorary degrees in both Europe and the US, foundation support, and international fellowships.

Rethinking Psychiatric Care: Alternative Programs That Are Models for Reform

Robert Whitaker

The “disease model” of care that American psychiatry has promoted since 1980, which focuses on the regular prescribing of psychiatric care, is now understood to have failed. Outcomes for major mental disorders have, if anything, worsened in the past 35 years. New models of care are needed, and examples of successful programs abound. In the western Lapland region of Finland, a form of care called open dialogue therapy has proven to produce very good long-term outcomes for people who suffer a psychotic break. In Britain, a program that allows for the prescribing of exercise to depressed patients has been shown to be helpful. In the United States, a residential program that provided care to the most disturbed children in California showed that a non-drug approach, which emphasized promoting emotional connections between the children and older mentors, could help the children re-organize their sense of self, and thus gain control over their behaviors. A review of the programs will help illuminate larger principles for rethinking psychiatric care.

Robert Whitaker is the author of four books, two of which tell of the history of psychiatry. His first, Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill was named by Discover magazine as one of the best science books of 2002. His newest book on this topic, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, won the Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism in 2010. Prior to writing books, Robert Whitaker worked as the science and medical reporter at the Albany Times Union newspaper in New York for a number of years. His journalism articles won several national awards, including a George Polk award for medical writing, and a National Association of Science Writers’ award for best magazine article. A series he co-wrote for The Boston Globe was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. He also was director of publications at Harvard Medical School for a time.

The Hearing Voices Network: An Example of a Postpsychiatric Future?

Olga Runciman

Peter Cambell, a psychiatric survivor, coined the term postpsychiatry when he in an anthology (1996) tried to imagine a world after psychiatry. This concept was later taken up by the Critical and postpsychiatric Network in the UK in close cooperation with the HVN. This keynote, based on Olga’s thesis, will look at why the HVN had to move beyond psychiatry and embrace the postpsychiatric perspective. This will be illustrated through vignettes into the lives of those who have typically been labeled schizophrenic and whose voices have traditionally been silenced.

Olga Runciman is the Chair of the Danish Hearing Voices Network as well as psychiatric nurse and now psychologist. She has worked extensively with trauma and abuse in relation to voice hearing and other unusual experiences and do so from a critical psychiatric perspective. She sees the hearing voices movement as postpsychiatric initiative, working towards the recognition of human rights while offering hope, empowerment and access to making sense of one’s experiences within the context of ones lived life.


The McDonaldisation of Children’s Mental Health in the Era of Globalization

Sami Timimi

Sami Timimi will explore the issues related to the era of globalisation that has resulted in the global exchange of not only goods, but also ideas and values, resulting in new dangers. The development of universalised therapeutic approaches has inadvertently replicated colonial dynamics by imposing Western notions of self, childhood, and family onto non-Western populations. Not only does this impact children’s emotional well-being, but it also shapes the way we conceptualise children and their problems. These beliefs and practices have facilitated the rapid growth of child psychiatric diagnoses and the tendency to deal with aberrant behaviour or emotions in children through technical – often pharmaceutical – interventions, a phenomenon I refer to as the ‘McDonaldization’ of children’s mental health. Diagnoses do not yet reveal the causes of mental difficulties or provide clear differentiators for treatment. As subjective constructs they are thus vulnerable to ‘commodification’ processes.

Sami Timimi is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Director of Medical Education in the National Health Service in Lincolnshire and a Visiting Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Lincoln, UK. He writes from a critical psychiatry perspective on topics relating to mental health and has published over a hundred articles and tens of chapters on many subjects including childhood, psychotherapy, behavioural disorders and cross-cultural psychiatry. He has authored 4 books, co-edited 3 books and co-authored 2 others. He co-founded the International Critical Psychiatry Network, is co-founder of the group Culture and Equality in Mental Health and has led on many innovations including theOutcome Orientated Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (OO-CAMHS) project and the Outcome Orientated Approaches to Mental Health Services (OO-AMHS) project.

The Extended Therapy Room

Carina Hakansson and guests

We will join with Carina as she shares experiences from a contextual and collaborative practice that includes those we call clients, their families, family-homes and professional «helpers».

Her work is not built upon a medical model and it challenges the foundation of mental illness healthcare as practiced in many places around the world. The program makes use of lived experiences and creates full participation and presence from all of those included in this shared work. Carina will describe this alternative and creative way of practicing the healing art of therapy. Some of the people with whom she works will be participating in the presentation.

Carina Hakansson is the founder and Director of the Family Care Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden. One of her most important missions is to extend the therapeutic work, in practice, as well as in research and by taking part in social and political movements. For more



Filed under hearing voices, mental health, peer support, postmodern, psychotherapy, self-help


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