INTAR Participant Profiles

INTAR members include participants at our international conferences and gatherings, collaborators with INTAR’s international networking, and partners in organizing. Each member is the gateway to a broader professional, survivor, and advocacy social network. This is a partial and growing list being revised as INTAR continues to pursue our work.

Laurie Ahern
Laurie Ahern is the Associate Director of Mental Disability Rights International, an international human rights organization which focuses on the protection of human rights for people labelled with a psychiatric diagnosis or an intellectual disability. Ahern is a sexual abuse survivor and a person who has recovered after having been hospitalised and labelled with schizophrenia at the age of 19.
Ahern conducts human rights monitoring and documentation missions to psychiatric institutions, orphanages and social care homes in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Middle East. In addition, she leads peer support trainings and recovery workshops throughout the world.
For ten years before joining MDRI, Ahern served as Co-director of the National Empowerment Centre, Inc. (NEC), a US, federally-funded recovery and technical assistance centre. She was the editor of the award-winning NEC newsletter and co- created the Empowerment Model of Recovery and PACE model, a non-coercive alternative to traditional mental health services. Her recovery work has been featured in many professional journals, in the media, and has been translated into eight languages. She is the recipient of the National Mental Health Association’s Clifford Beers Award and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law’s Advocacy Award. Ahern has conducted workshops, given talks, and organized conferences for consumers/ survivors, families and mental health providers to promote recovery. She is the former vice president of the National Association of Rights, Protection and Advocacy (NARPA) and spent a decade as an award winning newspaper reporter and editor.

Karyn Baker
Karyn Baker is the Program Director of the Family Outreach and Response Program (FOR) which provides supports and education to families and friends of those recovering from serious mental heath issues. The program is located in Toronto, Canada. FOR has developed an alternative approach to working with families using a critical perspective of psychiatry and a survivor recovery perspective. Karyn has lectured at York University and many conferences to share our family approach. She graduated from both the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto and has a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She is busy raising 3 remarkable children in Toronto. Her family has also had the experience of having relatives labelled with mental health issues.

Alexander Bingham
Alexander Bingham is a licensed clinical psychologist, Rosen bodywork practitioner, cranial-sacral therapist, and psychological researcher and teacher. This year, he has opened Full Spectrum, a recovery and educational centre which combines traditional psychotherapeutic work with a body-oriented perspective and nutritional counselling, offering individual, group, and day programs for all levels of psychological distress and growth. Alexander is dedicated to helping those in psychological distress find their way to self-confidence self-reliance and helping those trained in the medical model of mental illness learn of another less hopeless model: one that believes that even deepest distress does not have to be permanent and that hospitalisation, medication, and diagnosis are unnecessary with proper support, respect for all human experience, plus a willingness to engage in difficult therapeutic work.

Oryx Cohen
Oryx Cohen, M.P.A., has emerged as a leader in the international consumer / survivor / ex-patient (c/s/x) movement. Currently he is the Career Initiatives Coordinator for the Western Massachusetts Training Consortium. He oversees and supports c/s/x led small businesses, arts projects, and recovery-oriented programs. He is the co-founder of Freedom Center, the Western Massachusetts’ only peer-run support / activist organization. Freedom Center’s purpose is to empower and support people with psychiatric labels while challenging oppressive mental health policies and practices. Oryx has been a board member for the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA) since 2002 and is co-chair of this year’s 2005 NARPA Conference Committee. He also interned for MindFreedom International, directing its Oral History Project ( ). In July 2005, Oryx published “How Do We Recover? An Analysis of Psychiatric Survivor Oral Histories” in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole studied directing and worked for 12 years in the film industry on every kind of production, but after making his acclaimed documentary about people living with HIV he got interested in working with people more directly and without a camera. He went back to school, studied psychology, and worked in research, where he began to suspect that there was something awry in mainstream approaches to mental illness. He became director of a group home, where he became convinced that therapeutic community was where he would find what he was looking for. He is currently working to build the network that will lead to his next therapeutic community project. He is also starting an international project ( to gather video documentaries by people around the world about their experiences with mental illness.

Paul Cutler
Paul Cutler is currently a trustee of InterAction, a UK-based international mental health policy organisation. Formerly he was Assistant Director for the Hamlet Trust where he managed the Pathways to Policy programme that works with mental health groups in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia to develop policy initiatives and reform mental health systems. He is a qualified social worker with 17 years experience in mental health, has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology and a Masters Degree in International Development Management. He also has experience of mental health development in East Africa. He has published a number of academic journal articles on policy as well as the book Building for the Future: Making Organisations Stronger and More Effective (2002). He is currently writing (with Robert Hayward) the book International Development and Mental Health — A Public Action Approach.

Sabine A. Dick
She studied sociology, cultural anthropology and English philology at the University of Trier and is currently finishing her master degree at the Technical University and the Free University in Berlin, Germany. She is a member of the Verein zum Schutz vor psychiatrischer Gewalt e.V, and worked three years in the Runaway House (Berlin) until 2005.
She is the co-organizer of the FilmForum, a free regular movie offer for the users and supporters of the Runaway House and Support, a further project of the Verein zum Schutz vor psychiatrischer Gewalt e.V. She has presented and represented the Runaway House to professionals and students of the mental health sector, at conferences, and the wider public as part of the public relation sub-team of the Runaway House Team. She was involved in the production of two brochures, one with the title Betrifft: Professionalität dealing with ex-user / survivor controlled approach and professionalism, and one on strategies of user involvement in the social care system with the title BlickWechsel.

Anne Marie Reed DiGiacomo
Anne Marie DiGiacomo has been involved in human services for the past 28 years. She worked with adolescents, children and families in community mental health and non-profit settings for 18 years and for the past 10 years has been involved with the Windhorse communities in Northampton, MA. and Boulder, Co. Anne Marie received her Master’s degree in Social Work in 1986 from the University of Denver. It was during that time she was introduced to Contemplative psychology and meditation at Naropa University in Boulder and learned of the Windhorse Project. During her time at Windhorse Anne Marie has worked as a respite housemate, team counselor, team leader and intensive psychotherapist. She was the Clinical Director from 2001-2005, and co-interim Executive Director for a period of time in 2001 when the founders of Windhorse returned to Boulder. She is currently the Admissions Coordinator and continues her therapeutic work as well as supervising senior clinicians in their intensive psychotherapy work. She works closely with the Peer Counselors and is involved in further integrating the peer perspective into the Windhorse community on all levels.

Norma Friedman
EDUCATION Ed.D. Adult and Higher Education Columbia University, New York 1988 M.A. Adult and Higher Education Columbia University, New York 1985 M.Ed. Human/Social Services Antioch College, Ohio 1978 B.S. Leisure Studies and Services Magna Cum Laude Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society University of Massachusetts, Amherst 1976
Dr. Friedman has served on numerous boards and currently serves on the Fort Wayne Educational Foundation, Indiana Institute of Technology and the Nominating Committee of Windhorse Associates. She recently received an Indiana Tech CORE Action Grant and a Lilly Faculty Development Grant to assess the psychological needs of students and then develop programs. She has studied mindfulness and contemplative theory and techniques as it relates to both individuals and organizations. She has served as an organizational consultant for 25 years and currently is a Senior Consultant for Trustee Leadership Development, a national leadership institute.

Elizabeth Glass
I have worked for the past 14 years for Community Access, a not-for-profit that assists people with psychiatric disabilities make the transition from shelters and institutions to independent living. We provide safe, affordable housing and support services and advocate for the rights of people to live without fear or stigma. I came to Community Access with varied personal and work experience: two years in Turkey as a Peace Corps Volunteer, an MSW from Columbia University School of Social Work, and over 12 years in city government developing innovative supportive housing alternatives for individuals with psychiatric disabilities and/or histories of homelessness.
Part of my work was driven by personal experience: of my mother, my brother and myself. This has informed my search for alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization and treatment with neuroleptics. At Community Access we are currently working to expand the choices available to individuals in crisis and in their ongoing recovery. We received a foundation grant for pre-development work toward the establishment of a small residence that would offer a self-help, non-medical approach to recovery based in part on the service philosophies of the Soteria House project and other similar, second-generation programs. Dr. Peter Stastny is assisting us. It was from Peter that Cal Hedigan and I learned of this year’s INTAR gathering. The experience of others will be of great help in our effort.

Jim Gottstein
Jim Gottstein grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. After graduating from West Anchorage High School in 1971, he attended the University of Oregon and graduated with honors (BS, Finance) in 1974. Subsequently enrolling in Harvard Law School, Jim completed his formal legal studies in 1978, graduating with a J.D. degree. In addition to 25 years of private practice, emphasizing business matters and public land law, Jim has been an attorney advocate for people diagnosed with serious mental illness for over 20 years:
* Co-founded the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights) in 2002. Jim is currently president. See, * Co-founded Soteria-Alaska, Inc.,, in 2003, to provide a non-coercive and mainly non-drug alternative to psychiatric hospitalization. See, Jim is currently president.
* Co-founded CHOICES, Inc. (Consumers Having Ownership in Creating Effective Services) in 2003 to provide peer-run, alternative services, especially the right to choose not to take psychiatric drugs. See, Jim is currently president.
* Co-founded Peer Properties, Inc., in 2002, to provide peer (mental health consumer) run housing for people diagnosable with serious mental illness who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or living in bad situations. See, Jim is currently vice president.
* Member of the Alaska Mental Health Board (AMHB), the state-wide planning board for Alaska’s mental health program from 1998 to 2004, where he served as chair of its Program Evaluation and Committee and of its Budget Committee, which makes formal recommendations regarding the state’s mental health program budget.
* Served as plaintiffs’ counsel on behalf of the mentally ill in Alaska in the billion dollar litigation over the state of Alaska’s misappropriation of a one million acre trust granted for Alaska’s mental health program. See, Weiss v. State, 939 P 2d 380 (Alaska 1997).
* Co-founded Mental Health Consumers of Alaska in 1986 and served on its board of directors for almost ten years. * Co-founded the Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web in 1998. The Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web provides peer-support and a drop in center for mental health consumers in Anchorage.
* Supervising Attorney for Consumers Counsel, a project of the Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web that provided legal representation to mental health consumers. * Provided pro bono legal services to mental health consumers in various matters throughout his over 25 years in the active practice of law.
Currently, Mr. Gottstein is spending the bulk of his time on the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights on a volunteer basis. The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights’ mission is to organize a serious, coordinated legal effort against forced psychiatric medication. Mr. Gottstein is also devoting considerable time trying to make alternatives to psychiatric drugs available in Alaska, though Soteria-Alaska, and CHOICES, Inc. See, Report on Multi-Faceted Grass-Roots Efforts to Bring About Meaningful Change to Alaska’s Mental Health Program for a description of these efforts. Mr. Gottstein also serves on the board of directors of NARPA, the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy) and ICSPP, the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology. See, and respectively.

Dorothy Gunne
I’m 50 years old and currently recovering from major spinal surgery in spring of this year. I like to think that I’m in current hibernation for the winter, as it’s a very appealing metaphor to me, having worked despite spinal problems over the past few years. I guess I’ve had some connection with the whole area of mental health since my early teenage years when I first came across the work of R D Lang in my early teenage years and realized that somehow there were people in the world whose writing I understood at some kind of intuitive level.
It was quite a few years later that I was to pick up that thread again while studying with a few Buddhist teachers and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with a degree in psychology . I connected again with Lang through Naropa Institute and went to work at a therapeutic community in NH. For two years called Burch House. I’ve always somehow looked on mental health issues as a kind of spiritual emergency and have met a number of wonderful people over the years who have inspired me. A small group of us have been meeting in Ireland over recent years and I’m hoping that with time , and thoughtfulness we will develop further.
Having done a whole pile of study and practice in psychotherapy and practiced in various settings, we are in the very slow process of now developing a more contemplative form to this work and study process since 1993. I have a wonderful group of friends, and my daughter Nicola, my son Ruairi and grand-daughter Fearthainn are also deeply important in my life. I couldn’t get to the INTAR group meeting last year and was looking forward to meeting you all. I hope that the fact that you are aware of the death of our friend Kieran together with my need to rest at times will be ok with you all. This is the first thing I’ve done in the outwardly sense since surgery and I’m looking forward to meeting you all.

Will Hall
Will Hall was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder schizophrenia at age 26 and endured a year in San Francisco’s public mental health system, including locked wards, neuroleptic drugging, and solitary confinement. He went on to become co- founder of the Freedom Center, a Northampton, MA support, advocacy, and activist group run by and for people labeled with severe mental illnesses. Now in its fourth year, Freedom Center has provided free advocacy, support, and wellness services to hundreds of people, including peer counseling, a yoga class, free acupuncture clinic, writing groups, legal advocacy, protests, regular public educational events. Will is host of Madness Radio
Freedom Center has received coverage in local, national, and international press, and was recently given a Community Development Block Grant from the city of Northampton. In 2004 Will was honored with the Disability Advocacy Award by the Stavros Center for Independent Living. Will also recently joined the staff collective of the Icarus Project, a national mutual aid support network of people diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and related madness who challenge the idea of mental illness as disease. The Icarus Project brings together hundreds of people who embrace their extreme states of consciousness as ‘dangerous gifts’ to be nurtured and cultivated, and are struggling to live outside of and against the corporate mainstream.

His writing has appeared in The Nation, Greenpeace Magazine, Utne Reader, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and in the Sierra Club anthology Call To Action: A Handbook for Peace, Justice, and Ecology. He is also one of the founders of Valley Free Radio, a new FM community radio station in Northampton, MA.

Will is currently a practicing therapist in Portland Oregon, seeing clients locally and on Skype video call. Madness Radio is heard monthly on KBOO FM, and Will is also director of Portland Hearing Voices. Check out Will’s website at

Robert Hayward
Robert Hayward is a psychologist who has been working as an NGO development consultant for over 20 years. He has extensive experience in training and supporting mental health NGOs in Central & Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and NIS, parts of Central Asia, India and China. He has managed EU funded projects and has been a consultant for the World Health Organisation. In 2001 – 2003 he co-ordinated a programme for the Open Society Institute (Budapest). In 2004 he co-founded InterAction. Amongst his publications are: (with Peter Barham) Relocating Madness (1995); Gaining Ground — The Role of Mental Health NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe (2001); and Building for the Future (2002) (with Paul Cutler).

Cal Hedigan
I have been involved in the mental health field since 1985, when I began working as a Community Service Society volunteer in Chester, England in a Richmond Fellowship therapeutic community for individuals who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Since 1988 I have worked in a variety of roles in mental health settings in New York City, both in the shelter system and in residential programs in the community. For the last six years I have been at Community Access, a not-for-profit agency that assists people with psychiatric disabilities make the transition from shelters and institutions to independent living.
At Community Access I oversee the development of our training program and endeavor to ensure that our practices are in line with our mission to support individuals in determining their own lives. From the beginning of my work in this field I was struck by the damage that is done by mental health institutions in their treatment of individuals who are already experiencing difficulty in navigating the world. Trying to work in a way that does not replicate the harm already inflicted upon individuals by the mental health system and respects the rights of individuals to determine their own lives is the foundation of my work. Currently at Community Access, we are in the beginning stages of developing a residential program that would allow individuals to experience crises and move toward recovery in a setting that does not rely on neuroleptic medications and the primary mode of treatment. Peter Stastny is assisting us in our development efforts.

Gail Hornstein
Gail A. Hornstein is Professor of Psychology at Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, Massachusetts, USA). Trained as a personality/social psychologist, her recent work has focused broadly on the history of twentieth-century psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis. She is the author of many articles in professional journals as well as the recent book, “To Redeem One Person is to Redeem the World: The Life of Frieda Fromm-Reichmann” (Free Press, 2000; paperback, Other Press, 2005), the story of the maverick psychiatrist who pioneered the use of psychotherapy with schizophrenic patients. Unlike most scholars who study mental illness, Hornstein has always been as interested in patients’ experiences as in doctors’ theories. She has compiled a “Bibliography of First-Person Narratives of Madness in English” which (now in its 3rd edition) lists more than 600 titles. After spending much of the past three years meeting and working with survivor groups across the US and UK, she is at work on a new book intended to show how the insights of the psychiatric survivor movement can be used to radically reconceive fundamental assumptions about madness and mental life. Hornstein is currently Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge University.

Maths Jesperson
Maths Jesperson is a psychiatric survivor, who since 1990 has been very active at the international level as a lecturer on conferences, author of numerous articles in books and magazines, editor of an international newsletter and official representative of psychiatric users at meetings with various international organisations like the WHO and the European Commission. He was an inpatient at an old mental hospital for two years, 1980 and 1981. His diagnosis was obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in it’s worst degree. Actually he hasn’t read about any other case of OCD as worse as his own. The staff at the hospital said he was incurable. And they were right — because they couldn’t cure him. Instead he had to cure himself. When he left the hospital it was in a much worse condition compared with when he arrived. He solved his inner problems by converting to Catholicism in 1984.
When out of hospital Maths Jesperson quickly resumed an active life in society again. From 1982 to 1988 he worked in the professional theatre group Mercuriusteatern as a producer. He also resumed his studies in theatre history at the Department of Literature at the University of Lund, where he since 1987 is working on his doctoral thesis. In 1982 he became member of the newly founded Green Party and was a well known politician in Lund from 1982 to 1988. Maths Jesperson has since he left hospital openly identified himself as a former psychiatric patient. He has told about this in big articles in numerous Swedish daily papers and his life story is also printed in an official parliamentary report. Everybody in his surroundings has known about his background in psychiatry, but this has never caused him any harm like stigmatization or discrimination, not even when he was a politician.
The years Maths Jesperson spent as a patient in psychiatry was a shocking experience, which still, 25 years later, has its marks left deep within him. It was not so much the attitudes (actually most of the staff was quite friendly) or the treatment methods (drugs) that shocked him, but the general view on the psychic problems. He could never have dreamt of such a thing as people who actually believe that problems in the soul have biochemical causes and should be treated with medical methods. It was almost unbelievable to meet these ridiculous beliefs among psychiatrists. But to his big surprise almost all psychiatrists in Sweden seemed to believe in these stupid ideas. Because of this it was a big revelation for Maths Jesperson when he in 1995 in Prague for the first time met Marius Romme. To meet a professor in psychiatry who doesn’t believe in the medical model and who had developed a completely different approach, which corresponds fully with Maths Jesperson’s own understanding of his problems, was very hopeful.
At a world congress in Hamburg 1994 Maths Jesperson for the first time presented his “Jungle Model” and “Outer Space Model”, two alternative approaches to the medical model. His presentation is reprinted in Thomas Bock et al, Abschied von Babylon. Verständigung über Grenzen in der Psychiatrie p. 195-200 (Maths Jesperson, Die Befreiung von der psychiatrischen Diagnostik durch Selbsthilfe). The presentation has been repeated at numerous conferences, even at one organised by the World Psychiatric Association (WPA.
Maths Jesperson has recently, together with two family members, founded a new Swedish network called Demokratisk Psykiatri (Democratic Psychiatry – after the well known Italian movement), but this is still in its initial phase. After many decades as a bachelor Maths Jesperson was in the summer of 2004 married — just three days before his 50th birthday. On 24 August 2005 his daughter Maria was born. He lives now with his wife and daughter in Malmö, the third city in Sweden, situated very close to the Danish capital Copenhagen.

Sehnaz Layikel
Shehnaz graduated from the university in year 1997 and has been active in several NGOs working on child rights, women’s rights since then. She worked in the earthquake region in Turkey between 1999-2001. After then, she became interested in trauma work and participated in the one-year International Trauma Studies Program at New York University. After coming back to Turkey, she went on working actively in NGOs and studied art at Yildiz Technical University. Currently, she is enrolled in the masters program in Clinical Psychology at Istanbul Bilgi University. She has been board member of Association for the Development of Social and Cultural Life (an NGO based in Istanbul specializing in the issue of at-risk youth and implementing support projects throughout Turkey) since 2002.
She is also the Turkish representative of Mental Disability Rights International since 2003 and is currently working actively with advocacy groups in Turkey on the rights of people with mental disabilities. Her areas of interest in psychology include psychoanalytic theory and related psychotherapies, art and its function in recovery, trauma and its relationship with the socio-political environment.

Rufus May
I work as a clinical psychologist in Bradford’s adult mental health services. As part of this work I currently facilitate 4 self-help/recovery groups including one hearing voices self help group in Bradford. In my home town of Hebden Bridge I co-chair a public meeting about alternative approaches to emotional distress and madness called Evolving Minds. Each month 25-30 people meet above a pub to discuss social, spiritual as well as personal approaches to mental health healing and recovery. With others I have helped campaign against coercive medical treatment and the lack of holistic approaches in psychiatry. This includes organising demonstrations, marches and publicity stunts in order to get a challenging voice into the media. I write and talk about holistic approaches to dissociated mind states (e.g. hearing voices, unusual beliefs, emotional withdrawal). I currently try to help people with psychotic experiences from a broad range of frameworks including using Mindfulness, Taoist self help books, Voice dialogue, Marxism, recovery stories, herbal medicine, bodywork, self-help group work, peace studies. In the future I would like to (with others) build more places where people can learn about and use non-medical approaches to their recovery from emotional crisis. Some of my writings are available at the    University    of    Bradford’s    Centre    for Citizenship website,
I am open about my own psychotic experiences and the unhelpfulness of a medical approach when I was eighteen years of age. I am from London originally (Arsenal – a soccer club- territory), have a long-term partner Rebecca and 2 boys Gregory and Nathan and 11 or 12 stick insects.

John McCarthy
John McCarthy married to Liz (still in love, yes with each other) two adult children. Voluntary Pro Cork Advocacy Network we campaign for change in how those of us who live with the “Normality of Madness” are treated. Formally a businessman in Cork threw away the suit and grew a pony tail it is to be recommended. Author of Hope on a Rope poetry ,The Double House a play. Presently working on a book on how the system fails looking for research and some personal experiences if anybody out there has any they might contact me act as a spokesman on various TV and radio programmes. I have had various articles published in the national press RTE our national TV station recently made and aired a documentary on my journey through madness titled Dairy of a Madman to which I have received a very favorable response. I give occasional lectures at university and schools of nursing. I have a Cert in Applied Psychology from UCC.
I speak at various conferences and meetings I will be chairing a conference in West Cork titled You Your Community and mental Health. I would by the way take any opportunity to speak anywhere if anybody out there needs a guest speaker (you see I love doing it). But the main piece of information you need to know is I am WELL, WELL. I wish you all that feeling and assure you it is available. I am also a member of MindFreedom; the Sli Eile Housing Group; and the health Board’s Implementation Body on Focusing Minds.

Dawn McCarrick
Dawn McCarrick has been Administrative Officer for the Centre for Community Mental Health at University of Central England in Birmingham since April 2004. She undertakes all administrative support alongside significant involvement in all external projects and Soteria Network and overseeing day-to-day management of the Centre. Dawn works with Centre Director, Mervyn Morris, in co-ordinating all events, promotion, training, publications and networking. Recent events organised by Dawn include the lecture by Grace E. Jackson MD (USA) entitled, ‘What Doctors May NOT Tell You About Psychiatric Drugs’; lecture and one day workshop on Reality Therapy presented by Robert E. Wubbolding EdD (USA) and John Brickell’ and the inaugural Soteria Network Conference entitled ‘Alternatives — What Alternatives?’

Paddy McGowan
McGowan has recovered from Schizophrenia with the support of other survivors. He is one of the founders of the United Kingdom Advocacy Network and participated in the original study (Romme/Escher, 1989) into hearing voices. He set up the first user group in Ireland in 1994. He is a prominent proponent of the recovery model and actively engaged in creating alternatives to the Network. Mc Gowan has served on the National Disability Association’s Ad Hoc Focus Group on Mental Health as well the National Board of Mental Health Ireland. He has also been appointed to serve on the Western Health and Social Services Council by the Minister for Health in Northern Ireland and is a member of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy in the Republic of Ireland. He also lectures on mental health matters in Dublin City University and has been involved in developing peer advocacy training to an accredited level. McGowan has also developed and delivered staff awareness training in user empowerment and is founding member of the Institute for Mental Health Recovery. He has presented at conferences both locally, nationally and internationally.

Tracy Millar
I have been working as a Clinical Psychologist with people who have experienced or are experiencing distress for the past nine years. I worked in London for 8 years and more recently returned to my home in Belfast to continue working within a Community Mental Health Team. I have worked alongside the Hearing Voices Network for four years and have been trying to establish a Critical Mental Health Forum in Belfast.

Leon Redler
Following medical qualification and post-graduate training in pediatrics and psychiatry in New York, Leon came to London in 1965 as a student/ apprentice of R.D. Laing and the Philadelphia Association, living and working with people in extreme of mental distress in non-psychiatric settings. A practicing psychotherapist, he is also a practitioner of Alexander Technique, Hatha Yoga and Zen. He is a past chairman of the Philadelphia Association and of its psychotherapy training faculty. His therapy practice and The Mediation Partnership he co-directs are based at the Diorama Center for Art, Therapy and Technology in London. Published work includes articles on Laing, Levinas and Buddhist teachings and practice. He is married and has three daughters.

Sarah Porter
Born 1967 in Upper Hutt New Zealand, (1976 commenced on tricyclic anti depressant, hospitalized in 1978 due to repeated suicide attempts) Suffered from stigma, discrimination and isolation from family friends and schoolmates. Consequently Sarah has almost 30 years experience of recovery. Sarah has worked the community mental health sector since 1992 and worked in identified consumer roles since 1997. Experienced advocate, administrator, manager, and most recently employed as peer development specialist for Wellink Trust recovery focused mental health services. Politically active, involved with a number of advisory groups, reference groups and committees including currently working on an expert committee tasked with reviewing New Zealand’s National Mental Health Sector Standards.
Member of a reference group for the “Like Minds Like Mine”, a national campaign aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination in Mental Health. Active member of a local network called the “Improved Services Working Group”. Involved in advisory roles with the planning and funding of mental health services locally, Sarah has stood for election to both the local district health board and central government.
Wellink Peer Development Specialist — current employment peer support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. Peer support is not based on psychiatric models and diagnostic criteria. Peer support is about understanding another’s situation empathically through shared experience of emotional and psychological pain (Mead 2001). Peer support can offer a culture of health and ability as opposed to a culture of “illness” and disability (Curtis 1999) The expectation is that this role will function in a manner that will enhance self advocacy for Wellink Trust service users, and will develop a culture of service provision that encourages and facilitates social inclusion and citizenship for people using our services.
The Future: My life’s work is to promote the idea that distress is a normal (albeit painful) part of the human condition and is a transitory process rather than a debilitating disease. I intend to be actively involved in redefining what is commonly understood about mental health and mental illness and in turn what interventions are regarded as therapeutic.

Gisela Sartori
Gisela Sartori is the founder and long-time coordinator of the Second Opinion Society (SOS), a grassroots community organization offering non-medical alternatives to psychiatry. Gisela is originally from Germany, has a Masters degree in community psychology, and is a psychiatric survivor herself. She is the author of Toward Empathy, a training manual for women’s shelters and transition homes, on how to work with and offer equal access to psychiatrized women.
SOS is located in Whitehorse, Yukon, in the far north-western corner of Canada. We are in the unique position of being the only community- based mental health initiative in an area that’s the size of Germany, yet is occupied by only thirty-thousand people; twenty-five percent of them are of First Nations ancestry. Over the years, we have developed SOS into a dynamic, innovative model, speaking out against abuses in the mental health system. Offering a viable alternative for people who have had negative experiences with the traditional approaches, we run a drop-in and resource centre, where people can access a wide range of healing options and become part of a supportive community. As well, we offer systemic and individual advocacy, public education, rights protection, crisis support, outdoor recreation and opportunities for self-development. We see community at the core of “treatment”, and believe firmly in the healing power of human connection. Encouraging each other to move out of our stuck places, and working together to make our community a more supportive place to live is at the core of everything we do.
In the last two and a half years Gisela has done extensive training in family reconstruction, body-mind approaches and group processes, to be better able to support people in deepening their relationships to themselves and others.

Judy Schreiber
While I am a professional in my own right, I am Loren Mosher’s widow. I had worked at the National Institute of Mental Health Schizophrenia Unit for 28 years. When we moved to San Diego I became an Adjunct faculty at San Diego State University where I taught a seminar entitled “Working with The Persistently Mentally Ill” to Master’ Degree Social Work Students. I also held seminars for those students who were in mental health internships. For four years I did in home psychotherapy for those people who were unable or unwilling to leave their homes. Currently I am a vocational counselor to veterans who have either retired from the military or returned from the war. I am also a consultant to an NIMH grant.

Peter Stastny
Peter Stastny received his medical degree from the University of Vienna and completed a psychiatric residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. Since then, Peter has conducted research on the effects of long-term institutionalization, family influence, peer support, self-help and advance directives. He has been a consultant and founding member of several user-run organizations, and has provided advocacy and expert testimony in many cases dealing with psychiatric malpractice and forced treatment. Peter is also documentary film-maker and author of many scholarly and literary articles. He served on the Board of Windhorse Associates and the National Associations of Rights, Protection and Advocacy and is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson (RMN, BA(Hons), MSc, PhD) was appointed to DCU as first chair in mental health nursing in Ireland in June 2005 and took over as Director of Research at the School of Nursing in DCU in August 2005. Prior to this, she was a reader in nursing at University of Teesside, and Deputy Director of the Teesside Centre for Rehabilitation Sciences (TCRS), having previously held a clinical lectureship at University of Newcastle for seven years where she worked closely with Professor Phil Barker. Chris trained as a psychiatric nurse before completing a BA (Hons) in psychology and sociology at University of Sunderland (polytechnic). She returned to practice, and for the majority of her clinical career was a community psychiatric nurse and facilitator of community mental health teams, specialising in working with families. During this time, Chris studied for a MSc in Health and Social Research at University of Northumbria. Her interest in family therapy was continued in her master’s thesis and in her following PhD work. Up until 2004, Chris was a member of a family team working with people in eating distress. Chris has an established research programme in psychological recovery within which 3 themes are embedded: Meaningful care for people in mental health distress, including suicidality; Developing and evaluating models of empowering practice; Methodological advances in recovery research. She also researches in the area of service user involvement, and has recently completed a project for the National Disability Authority, Ireland which involved producing a ‘Good Practice Guide’ for working in partnership with people who have experience of mental health difficulties.
Chris’s research embodies her commitment to developing approaches to working with people in psychological distress that place the person as the expert in relation to her/his own care. She contributed research evidence underpinning the Tidal Model of psychiatric and mental health nursing developed by Phil Barker in 2000. Her publications in this area include papers concerning implementing and evaluating care focusing on the interpersonal relationship dimension, and a book ‘Patient and Person: Empowering Interpersonal Relationships in Nursing’ published in 2004. Chris has a long-standing interest in philosophy of science, traceable in publications from 1996 to the present. In particular, she has explored how post-modern/social constructionist ideas have currency for mental health research and practice.

Philip Thomas
Philip Thomas is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Citizenship and Community Mental Health ( in the School of Health Studies, University of Bradford. He read Medicine at Manchester University and completed his psychiatric training in Edinburgh where he obtained his MPhil. He gained his doctorate in 1999. He worked as a full time consultant psychiatrist for over twenty years in Manchester, Wales and Bradford, before leaving psychiatry and medicine to focus on writing, academic work and community development. He is Chair of Sharing Voices Bradford, a nationally acclaimed community development project working with Bradford’s culturally diverse communities. He is involved in a number of participatory research studies involving experts by experience and community groups. His academic interests include critical social and cultural psychiatry, hermeneutics and phenomenology. He is also interested in narrative and the problems of representation in medicine and literature. He has developed alliances with survivors of psychiatry and service users, locally, nationally and internationally, and is well known for the column he wrote with his colleague Pat Bracken in Open Mind magazine, called Postpsychiatry. He is a founder member and co-chair of the Critical Psychiatry Network in Britain. He has published over 150 papers and articles, mainly in peer reviewed, but also in popular, journals. Free Association Books published his first book, Dialectics of Schizophrenia, in 1997. His second book Voices of Reason, Voices of Insanity co- authored with Ivan Leudar was published by Brunner-Routledge in April 2000. Oxford University Press published his third book, Postpsychiatry, written with Pat Bracken, in December 2005. He is currently working on a collection of short stories about madness and medicine. He is married to Stella, has two grown up children, four cats (who are his keepers and spiritual guides) and a dog called Rosie whose cultural origins are in Northumberland.

Ann Thompson
Ann Thompson lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is a “survivor/provider” trained in critical social work, who is exploring the application of recovery principles in programs/organizations supporting consumer/survivors and family members. She is a trained Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and peer support facilitator and has worked with Karyn Baker to adapt the WRAP framework to a family setting. Together they have integrated mental health recovery principles within a family psychoeducation series. Ann is also currently pursuing a research project that hopefully will explore mental health recovery and its applications within the ageing population. She has finished teaching an elective course- Critical Perspectives on Mental Health: An Introduction to Mental Health Recovery- in the York University MSW program.

Richard Warner
Richard Warner is a British community and social psychiatrist. Since 1976, he has been the Medical Director of the Mental Health Center of Boulder County, Colorado, a community agency serving a population of nearly 300,000, where he has helped develop a community support system for adult patients that includes a domestic-style hospital alternative for acutely ill patients, a range of residential options, assertive community treatment teams, a jail diversion programme, a psychosocial clubhouse, supported employment, and consumer-employing social firms. The centre also operates a broad array of intensive treatment services for children and adolescents, many of which are collaborative, multi-agency projects. Dr Warner is the author of Recovery from Schizophrenia (Brunner-Routledge, 2004), The Environment of Schizophrenia (Brunner-Routledge, 2000) and numerous other publications on the community treatment and epidemiology of schizophrenia. Much of his research has focused on economic and social factors that impact the course of mental illness.

Greg White
Greg White (64) married to Jen, is an Irish born practising psychotherapist who spent most of his adult life in Southern Africa. Interest in psychosocial and human rights issues touching on so called mentally ill started after finishing my training in 1995 in Dublin, where I was involved with drafting Irish Council of Civil Liberties response to Governments plans to changing the Mental Health Act. Since then, I have found myself on the fringe of the therapeutic establishment since it seems most of my profession are unwilling or unable to publicly out the relative effect of ‘normality’ on madness. Presently he is compiling a manuscript for publication which examines this problem in depth and offers solutions for the future.

Sally Zinman
Sally Zinman is the Executive Director of the California Network of Mental Health Clients (CNMHC), the state-wide client advocacy organization in California, which she along with twenty other clients, founded twenty years ago. Sally has been active in the mental patient rights movement for almost 30 years. Sally’s commitment to the rights of people with mental disabilities came from her own horrendous experience in the mental health system. She has dedicated her life to insure that what happened to her as a person labeled “mentally ill” would not happen to other people. She has spent the time since her own incarceration working for the self-determination and freedom of choice of others who followed her.
In 1977, she founded a client-run organization called the Mental Patients’ Rights Association in West Palm Beach, Florida. This organization developed a small unfunded all-volunteer client-run community center and shared living space. These were to become one of the first client-run drop-in centers and supportive housing projects in the country. After moving to Berkeley, in 1985 she helped found the Coalition for Alternatives in Mental Health, known as the Berkeley Drop-In Center, one of the first funded self-help agencies in the country.
In 1986, Sally co-edited and wrote articles for Reaching Across: Mental Health Clients Helping Each Other, and. in 1994, Reaching Across II: Maintaining Our Roots/ The Challenge of Growth. Both books have been used by mental health clients and professionals throughout the country as a manual for understanding and starting self-help programs. Sally is a workshop presenter, keynote speaker and consultant on public policy and self-help issues throughout the country.