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December 11, 2017 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

How Would We Know If We Really Reformed the Mental Health System?

This post updated 12/28/2017

I have been wondering for some time how we would know if the mental health systems in the United States were really reformed.  It is true that there are “a thousand points of light,” many great new and older programs and initiatives out there with tremendous advocacy and efforts at radical change.  But when a system leaves so many without recovery-oriented supports, it is like swimming upstream against a powerful current.  Here are 25 indicators that if fully implemented would represent a complete system reform.

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October 7, 2017 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

The Continuing Education Course on Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs is Here!

At the beginning of September, I wrote about the next stage of the Mad in America Continuing Education project—the development of webinar formats and I announced the planning for a “course” on withdrawal from psychiatric medications.  At that time, I was able to provide only introductory information but now I can provide a full picture of the 7 webinars that comprise the course and update a few other developments.

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October 4, 2017 by Lauren Spiro

Finding our way back again, the cure for isolation and its ills

Massive doses of human connection are needed to counter the alienating influence of technology, disruption of the village and a growing culture of isolation.

I remind myself often how wonderful it is to notice the wealth of resource and intelligence that is all around us. I just left the gym where I watch CNN (while on the treadmill) and I go from the devastation of Puerto Rico to the massacre in Las Vegas and then read an entrepreneurial magazine in the lobby.

Club Business International’s October 2017 publication stated, “When I [the editor of CBI] asked the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murphy what was the biggest disease in America today, without hesitation, he answered, ‘It’s not cancer, It’s not heart disease, It’s isolation.’”

One of the results of the incessant technological assault, observes Murphy, “is the pronounced isolation that so many people are experiencing that is the great pathology of our lives today.” The Editors note continues, “International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Associate Chairperson Derek Gallup counsels, ‘Certainly, continue your search for technological solutions, but, as you do so, remain constantly focused on the all-important human element. In the final analysis, your members, and how they feel about them selves and the team members- those are the critical factors that, ultimately, will determine whether your business grows and thrives… or doesn’t.’”

The Editorial also points out that Thomas L. Friedman, Pulitzer prize-winning author and journalist with The New York Times, states “How ironic, we are the most technologically connected generation in human history- and yet more people feel more isolated than ever. The connections that matter most and that are most in short supply today are the human-to-human ones.”

Personally, I am hopeful. More and more people globally are waking up and re-connecting with our shared humanity and a shared vision of a peaceful and collaborative world. Currently in the U.S. however, a great divide appears to be growing, where we see an acceleration of the breakdown of our social structure and our community infrastructure.

Unsustainable systems are collapsing and something new, hopeful, empowering and global is in the process of emerging. It seems that we need to collectively burn through some darkness before we collectively see the light. Lately, there seems to be a growing isolation and war-like posturing. Let’s shift gears and focus on a hopeful antidote that everyone can apply.

 

World peace begins with me
Human beings have been making war for a long time in many cultures, meaning in many minds, because the culture is a reflection of the mind.

I am coming to a clearer understanding that when I am not at peace in my own mind, I am waging an internal war and that war is projected onto others whether I am aware of it or not.

The war in my head can be framed around a variety of battles – it can be framed around the ancient and false belief that I am not good enough or smart enough, or if that other person would do something well or if this condition or that condition were met – then all would be worked out and peaceful. I have constructed a story that tints the lens through which I see myself, others, our relationships, and the world.

If I remain unaware of how I have tinted the lens, and I remain stuck in the story, the conditions for peace will not be met. Peace is revealed in the absence of war – in the absence of isolation, separation, judgments, and conditions.

If we take another step deeper, we can see that the source of this war comes from the belief that we are some thing that is separate from others. This early learning, this sense of separation and human disconnection, is so pervasive and integrated into the threads of our culture that it makes it hard to see.

This experience of human disconnection, a separation of self from self and self from others, is a fundamental concept in both trauma-informed practice and in Emotional CPR (eCPR), www.emotional-cpr.org. The impact of trauma and human disconnection played out in my own early childhood, for example, by my experiencing such a profound lack of safety that it resulted in my clinging to anyone who offered safety and anything that could numb the pain.

Another result of the belief that we are some thing and this thing is separate from each other is that we get focused on protecting this thing. Whatever the thing is – our territory, our home, our family – we protect it and hold on to fear, and anger and revenge, and we wait for someone else to do something differently so that we think we can find peace.

Our tinted lens reinforces the idea that that other person is different – separate from me. And this separation perpetuates conflict and war. It perpetuates the war in my head which perpetuates the war I wage with others. The inner war creates global war.

When I am practicing eCPR or human connecting I am cleaning the lens. By that I mean, I intentionally focus on letting go of my own judgments and labels; there is nothing to protect. I focus on perceiving the other person in their full humanity. The distress the person is expressing is a particular patterned way that this person’s internal war has escalated.

As a supporter or listener or fellow human being I focus on being with her and assisting her in finding peace. I do this by seeing the genuine person underneath her lens, underneath the social conditioning, underneath her story. And when I do this, I am perceiving or ‘being’ underneath my own lens. From this place, where peace is revealed in the deep connection of two people, I mirror back the best I see in her, my great hope for her, my belief in her, my knowing that together, in this moment, we will move through this.

For more on this process, see “When the war in our mind ends, peace emerges” (http://www.mentalhealthexcellence.org/war-mind-ends-peace-emerges/)

 

Connection as a preventative of violence
Shortly after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and 17 others were assaulted with a firearm in Tucson, Arizona in 2011 and six people died from their wounds, the mayor of Tucson, Arizona asked for a meeting with the Administrator of the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

I recall being hopeful that some federal action step might be taken to move forward in a collective and positive direction after this tragedy. About 45 of us from around the country met at SAMHSA in Rockville, Maryland, the Tucson mayor and his wife joined us via phone.

There was much talk around what some communities have done in response to similar attacks, how we might be able to prevent such attacks and where we go from here, such as community dialogues, town meetings, etc.

I listened for a long while and then spoke and I would say the same thing today: People don’t act out in desperate acts of rage – be it homicide, massacre or suicide – when they know they are connected and belong to something bigger than themselves – be it family, community or some entity that gives their life meaning and purpose. I don’t believe this behavior occurs when people know that they belong in community, that they have a safety net, a place where they are being well thought of, cared about.

If people have somewhere safe to go when they feel big feelings, whatever those feelings are – anger, rage, isolation, anxiety, sadness, etc., they would not act out so desperately, at least they would be less likely to. The invitation is to think creatively and strategize about how we rebuild our communities so they everyone knows they belong, everyone is valued and has a place.

We can and must do a better job of connecting to our own hearts and to the hearts, minds and spirits of others.

I end with two simple and eloquent quotes from Albert Einstein, “We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” and “The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.


Lauren_SpiroLauren Spiro’s vision of social justice and mental health liberation fuels her work of community building, developing our individual and collective capacity for feeling deeply connected, appreciating the vast creative intelligence of the human mind and creating pathways so everyone may come home. Diagnosed and institutionalized with chronic schizophrenia as a teenager, she has emerged as a visionary thinker, artist, and consultant dedicated to embodying inner peace to create global peace. She has an M.A. in Clinical/Community Psychology, has been featured on national media, co-founded Emotional CPR and two non-profit mental health corporations, is the former director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (www.ncmhr.org) and author of a recently published memoir, Living for Two:  A Daughter’s Journey from Grief and Madness to Forgiveness and Peace. Join her at www.laurenspiro.wordpress.com or email Laurenspiro1@gmail.com

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September 27, 2017 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

New Continuing Ed Course On Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

Overview

This series of seven 90-minute webinars will feature presentations by people with “expertise by lived experience,” psychiatrists, and other professionals on a topic of critical importance: What do we know about withdrawal from psychiatric medications? The educational purpose of the series is to present information and insights that arise:

  • from users’ experiences and their efforts to support others who want to taper from their psychiatric medications; research on drug withdrawal,
  • the clinical experience of psychiatrists and other professionals who have supported patients tapering from psychiatric medications, and
  • research on drug tapering programs and efforts

Education.MadInAmerica.com/p/psychiatric-drug-withdrawal

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September 1, 2017 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

The Continuing Evolution of Mad in America Continuing Education

The Mad in America Continuing Education Project is continuing to evolve.  Earlier in this year, we initiated a new way of providing our courses—a webinar format which has been going over quite well.  Over 200 people took Dr. Chris Gordon and Keegan Arcure’s live course on Open Dialogue —and the numbers have continued to grow as people watch the webinar after the fact.  So we have decided to ramp up our webinar offerings.  We have produced two more so far; one on Oregon’s early psychosis intervention program, EASA (Early Assessment and Support Alliance), and another with Denmark’s Olga Runciman speaking on withdrawing from antipsychotic drugs.

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June 2, 2017 by Laysha Ostrow, PhD

Wealth of resources on peer respite at PeerRespite.net

Self-Evaluation Guidebook Just Released

PeerRespite.net is a comprehensive online resource dedicated to dissemination and implementation efforts to help communities create effective, sustainable crisis alternatives through independent peer-run programs. Live & Learn, Inc created PeerRespite.net to provide a comprehensive online resource dedicated to dissemination and implementation efforts about peer respites, providing public access to information about research, technical assistance, resources, and a program directory.

In May 2017, we launched the Guidebook for Peer Respite Self-Evaluation: Practical Steps and Tools to assist in building the evidence for peer respites.

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April 12, 2017 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

Mad in America to Host Webinar On Oregon’s Innovative Early Psychosis Programs

On Friday, April 28th, from 1-2:30 pm Eastern time (10-11:30 am Pacific), Mad in America Continuing Education will be host a webinar on the Early Assessment and Support Alliance, a one-of-a-kind early intervention project in Oregon for youth experiencing psychosis. The EASA projects are unique in that they build on nearly 2 decades of outcome research and represent a pragmatic blend of models from Australia, Open Dialogue, and others.

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April 10, 2017 by Gina Nikkel, PhD

Hearing Voices Network USA training in Atlanta

Gina Nikkel, PhD and Gail Hornstein, PhD in Atlanta at the April 5 panel discussion “What can we learn from people who hear voices?”

As President and CEO for The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care (FEMHC) I have to admit that I get to participate in some life changing meetings and meet extraordinary people. This past week was no exception.

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March 7, 2017 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

Victims of Success: an Update from Mad in America Continuing Education

In mid 2016, we asked Dr. Chris Gordon to consider teaching one of the Mad in America Continuing Education online courses. Dr. Gordon is the inspiring psychiatrist in Framingham, Massachusetts who, eight years ago, responded to a request from a person in his program to look into Open Dialogue, an approach to working with early psychosis in Finland. At that time, and unfortunately even now, very few if any mental health professionals in the United States had ever heard of this innovative and highly successful program.

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March 1, 2017 by Lauren Spiro

Lauren’s Emotional CPR March-April Training Calendar: An Invitation to Compassion, Peace and Awakening

It has been seven years since we began doing eCPR certification trainings. We have dozens of trainers spread around the world. An even higher number of apprentices and facilitators receive individual mentoring on their way to becoming trainers.

eCPR becomes a way of life.

Many people hunger for innovative approaches to support other people through emotional crisis or distress. We know that crisis and distress are not synonymous and that the term ‘crisis’ is a judgement. What one might judge to be a crisis may not at all be defined as such by the person experiencing the emotional state. When we created eCPR, however, it was actually designed to support people through very tumultuous emotional experience, so crisis seemed like the best word to use at the time.

We have come a long way from those days and now know that when eCPR is really understood and the knowledge and skills are applied to every day life – it becomes a way of life. That is what people from all over the world tell us. Their relationships are better because communication is clearer – both receptive and expressive as well as verbal and non-verbal language flows bi-directionally and more lovingly.

Introductory Workshops
We have found that an effective way to introduce eCPR to a new community or constituency is to conduct a workshop which typically varies in length from 90 minutes to a half-day. Workshops have been done with a few people to over 200 people and serve as a way to give people a taste of eCPR – it is a brief introduction.

Often when I find myself in a city where eCPR has not previously been introduced, I offer a free workshop. This is the case in Nevada County, CA on my schedule below.

Sometimes I offer a free workshop in a city where eCPR does have a foothold but I have free time and am able to offer one, as is the case in Oakland, CA, and Seattle, WA, also on the schedule below.

If enough people are interested in a workshop and they contact us, I am happy to deliver. If there is no previously arranged space, we will secure one. We are creative and resourceful. This on-the-fly organic style workshop is perhaps unique to me and the particular March-April 2017 schedule. Typically workshops are scheduled way in advance and advertised. I am open to adventure so I am putting the invitation out to offer these workshops without pre-arranging all the bells and whistles, so to speak.

Certification Training
Trainings are typically financed in two ways, either an entity is bringing us in and has paid for the training or a self-pay method where individual registrations cover all costs and anyone can sign-up. The only self-pay training on my schedule (below) is Portland, OR. All certification trainings and some workshops are listed on the eCPR website. When a training is open to others, a contact person is listed on the eCPR “upcoming trainings” webpage.

eCPR is an embodied practice. That is to say that when one begins to really understand the relational process – a giving and receiving process – and how to listen with the eyes, ears and heart then our essence, our entire being, including our body becomes a tool of healing, compassion and understanding. And at the core, that is how we support people through emotional distress. Anyone can do it if they take the time to learn and are open to the process. It is essential to get out of the head and into the body, particularly into the heart and experience our inherent wisdom and inner knowing. Often we need to re-learn how to listen to our authentic voice within because our culture does not encourage this type of genuine humanness.

eCPR training teams are organized and assembled by the team coordinator and each one is unique. I decided to share my calendar because it is unusual to have one person coordinate and co-facilitate five certification trainings in less than 6 weeks. I wanted to let our cadre of trainers know what I was up to and then thought why not let other people know as well. I am very pleased to see the growth of eCPR; writing this blog is a way to celebrate how far we have come.

 

Lauren’s eCPR training schedule March & April 2017

All trainings are 2-day eCPR Certifications unless other stated. All training are done with additional members of the training teams

March 9-10, Seattle, WA

March 13, is available for a FREE workshop, Seattle, WA | Contact Lauren

March  15-16, Redmond, WA

March 22-23, Portland, OR | Register Now

March 27 workshop, tentative date, Nevada County, CA | Contact Lauren

April 6-7, Oakland, CA

April 10-11 Oakland, CA

April 12- is available for a FREE workshop in Oakland, CA | Contact Lauren

 

Emotional CPR Explained
Emotional CPR (eCPR) is a dynamic public health educational training that teaches people to support others through an emotional crisis by Connecting (C)- listening with our eyes, ears, and heart to feel the person’s presence; emPowering (P)- accepting the uncertainty of not knowing what is best, but open to collaborative exploration; and Revitalizing (R)- exploring our vital center – our truth, our authentic self and our genuine voice.

eCPR is recommended by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and CARF, the largest behavioral healthcare accreditation body in the world, and others. Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations referred to eCPR as a “peace-making” process.

Other eCPR training team members include: Reid Smithdeal, Fawn Preston, Kozi Arrington, Dina Tyler, Heather Riemer & Rachel Harris

For information about free workshops (as noted in the cities, above, contact Lauren, laurenspiro1@gmail.com)

For general information see Emotional-CPR.org

 

Related post: Emotional CPR: A Tool and Process of Peacemaking.

_________________________________________________________________

Lauren_SpiroLauren Spiro’s vision of social justice and mental health liberation fuels her work of community building, developing our individual and collective capacity for feeling deeply connected, appreciating the vast creative intelligence of the human mind and creating pathways so everyone may come home. Diagnosed and institutionalized with chronic schizophrenia as a teenager, she has emerged as a visionary thinker, artist, and consultant dedicated to embodying inner peace to create global peace. She has an M.A. in Clinical/Community Psychology, has been featured on national media, co-founded Emotional CPR and two non-profit mental health corporations, is the former director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (www.ncmhr.org) and author of a recently published memoir, Living for Two:  A Daughter’s Journey from Grief and Madness to Forgiveness and Peace. Join her at www.laurenspiro.wordpress.com or email Laurenspiro1@gmail.com

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