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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.

The response has been so positive that we are going all-in on producing webinars.  On September 12, Dr. Marilyn Wedge and Dr. Gretchen Lefever Watson, 2 pioneering and internationally known psychologists, will share their extensive clinical work and research on interventions for children labeled with ADHD. This webinar will challenge conventional beliefs about the effectiveness of drug treatment and offer safer and more effective interventions – educational, family and nutritional approaches. We still have slots open so please consider getting in on this important educational offering. (1 CEU is available for psychologists, social workers, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and nurses.)

In October we will move up the “next level,” with a series of courses to review a topic that has never received “full and complete coverage” — withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. This series will build on Olga Runciman’s well-received webinar and it will become available on a monthly schedule starting this fall. The initial series will look at the history of the psychiatric med withdrawal movement, with notables such as Carina Håkansson, PhD, Dr. Sandra Steingard, Dr. Kelly Brogan and Dr. Peter Breggin looking at the knowledge and support base for medication withdrawal that has arisen from the grassroots in the absence of research or support from the mainstream. The next series will look in depth at the research, knowledge, and changing landscape that now supports medication withdrawal.

One important component of our webinar courses will be the lived experience of people who have withdrawn (or attempted to withdraw) from psychiatric medications. The series will begin and end with panels that will lay out what is still to be learned and what has been already.  Internationally known psychiatrists, along with experts by experience, will present both the academic research and the user-led knowledge base that provides the clinical, medical AND experiential foundation for this process – with the acknowledgement that we are at the very beginning of learning about this topic of critical concern.

The pharmaceutical industry has long funded CEU and CME curriculums, with the predictable result that the knowledge base, where it exists at all, is tainted by commercial interest. Professionals receive most — if not all — of their required ongoing education from these biased sources, because they are provided for free. At the Mad in America Continuing Education Project, we have steadfastly refused all commercial or institutional sources of funding. Therefore, we are charging a very small fee for our webinars, which is what helps us to provide these independent CEU online webinars. It is difficult to compete with biased information when it is offered for free.

Everyone I have talked to says that what we offer is simply not available anywhere else. Confirming our role in providing information is the reference to us in the resource guide section of Art Levine’s new book, Mental Health Inc. — it’s great to see that we’re making the national scene.  We have a critical vacuum to fill and intend to keep doing so until the field is fully saturated with unbiased professional education.


bnikkel_miaceRobert Nikkel, MSW, is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Public Psychiatry Training Program at Oregon Health and Science University. He was the State of Oregon’s commissioner for both mental health and addictions from 2003-2008. He is the director of the Mad in America Continuing Education project and a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care.

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