Ron Unger is a licensed cognitive behavioral therapist whose understanding of psychosis I greatly appreciate and admire. His writing has helped me enormously in “normalizing” the way I think about my own relative, calming ME down, and increasing MY hope for my son’s recovery. Ron has recently created an online course in “how to talk to people with psychotic experience in a way that allows them to calm down, feel more grounded, access coping skills, and increase hope for recovery.” His course was designed with professionals in mind, but it is also open to service users, ex service users or survivors, and family members.
- Free Online Training Module Using Normalizing Within CBT for Psychosis
- Use the link above to signup to get access to a free online training in how to talk to people with psychotic experience in a way that allows them to calm down, feel more grounded, access coping skills, and increase hope for recovery. By signing up here, you will also be added to an email list to be notified about upcoming events like the release of the complete online training in CBT for Psychosis, which will include CE credits for US professionals. You can unsubscribe from this list at any time.
Please read more about the background for this course. I have reprinted an excerpt from Ron’s Mad in America post below. (If the link above doesn’t work, there is further information in the comments section of Ron’s post.)
How Can Professionals Learn to Reduce Fears of Psychotic Experiences Rather Than Emphasize Pathology?
July 19, 2014
The kinds of experiences we call psychotic are often incredibly scary: people feel they are being persecuted by strange forces, or that their brains have been invaded by demons or riddled with implants from the CIA . . . the list of possible fears is endless, and often horrifying.
While standard mental health approaches counter many of these fears, they often create new fears of a different variety. People diagnosed with schizophrenia for example may be led to believe that they will definitely be mentally ill for life, that this illness controls what happens in their brain and not themselves, and that there are few or even no alternatives if drugs don’t work for them.
This can be extremely demoralizing. Oryx Cohen
graphically described his own reaction to the standard mental health psychoeducation he received after his first psychotic experience: he reported it made him feel he had lost his membership in the human race! As a result of it, he felt caught up in a pathologized understanding of himself, he lost his expectation of being capable of learning from experience and shaping his future, and he now felt defined by his abnormality rather than by his humanity.
Despite − rather than because − of what the mental health system taught him to believe, Oryx later discovered other ways of understanding his experience, and he made a full recovery. But wouldn’t it be better if people like Oryx were helped to find a more humanistic understanding of themselves within the mental health system and from the very beginning of treatment?
Wouldn’t it be helpful if professionals were trained in an approach that could help people shift away from both dangerous psychotic ways of thinking and also away from the sometimes equally terrifying explanations which emphasize pathology?
Further, what if such an approach could also build a foundation for learning effective coping skills, and also help a person build hope and a road map toward a possible full recovery?
And wouldn’t it be nice if this approach was already proven to be “evidence based,” so that both people learning the methods, and their supervisors and colleagues could have confidence in its effectiveness and safety?
Fortunately, at least one such approach exists, and it is called CBT for psychosis. This method allows professionals to collaborate with people in developing understandings of their psychotic experiences that neither minimize problems nor emphasize pathology, but instead help make sense of extreme human experiences in a way that is grounded in more everyday human experience and issues.