The History of ISPS

The early years

The birth of ISPS - Central Europe, 1950s


Two young Swiss Psychiatrists, Christian Müller and Gaetano Benedetti, dissatisfied with the treatment of schizophrenia at the time, decided to gather together colleagues interested in the psychoanalytic treatment of schizophrenia. For the first 40 years of its existence the ISPS focused on organising Symposia every 3 years for clinicians to exchange ideas about their work. During these early years the ISPS acronym stood for the International Symposium for the Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia.

1956 - The first International Symposium for the Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia was held in Cery (Lausanne), Switzerland.

The following ISPS Symposia were held in Brestenberg (near Zurich) in 1959 and 1964.


1970’s – ISPS comes to Scandinavia

4th ISPS Symposium held in Turku, Finland in 1971

5th ISPS Symposium held in Oslo, Norway in 1975

6th ISPS Symposium held in Lausanne, Switzerland, 1978

7th ISPS Symposium held in Heidelberg, 1981

8th ISPS Symposium, held outside of Europe for the first time, in New Haven, USA, 1984

9th ISPS Symposium held in Turin, Italy, 1988

10th ISPS Symposium held in Stockholm, Sweden, 1991

11th ISPS Symposium held in Washington DC, 1994


Newsletter launch – First ISPS Constitution

1994, The ISPS Newsletter was launched, Endre Ugelstad was its first Editor. The first issues were printed in Norway, in black and white. Later the newsletter developed into full colour printed issues with 16 pages. With the development of the ISPS website and email discussion groups the need for a printed newsletter diminished and thus the ISPS Newsletter is now distributed in electronic format every 3 months.

12th ISPS Symposium held in London, 1997. A Constitution was agreed and the new society was inaugurated during the conference. Johan Cullberg was the first Chairperson.


Years of development

ISPS rapidly developed its infrastructure, including registration of the society in Norway as a non-profit organisation, the establishment of the first Secretariat and Treasurer, and Torleif Ruud (member of the ISPS Executive Committee 1990-2006) started working on the first ISPS website in 2000.

13th ISPS Symposium held in Stavanger, Norway, 2000.

14th ISPS Symposium, held in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time, in Melbourne, Australia, 2003.

ISPS launched its first website.

Local ISPS networks now in 19 countries, across 5 continents.

ISPS Book series launched in 2003, Edited by Brian Martindale. There are currently 13 books in the ISPS/Routledge series with 3 more in publication.

The first ISPS International email discussion group was started in December 2003, moderated by Chris Burford.

15th ISPS Symposium held in Madrid, Spain, 2006.

March 2009, ISPS launched its journal Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches’ edited by John Read.

Psychosis cover


16th ISPS Symposium held in Copenhagen, Denmark, 2009.

ISPS moved from triennial to biennial international congresses.

17th ISPS Symposium held in Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2011.

March 2012, ISPS members voted to remove the word Schizophrenia from the name of our organisation. The new name is the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis.

18th ISPS Syposium held in Warsaw, Poland, 2013.

Alison Summers and Nigel Bunker take over as Editors of the ISPS Book Series. The series now contains 17 books.

2013, a sad year for ISPS with the death of both of our founders Christian Müller and Gaetano Benedetti.

2014, ISPS Journal Psychosis moves from 3 to 4 issues per annum.

2014 ISPS adopts The ISPS Charter of Good Practice in Psychological Therapies for People Experiencing Psychosis


shutterstock 139844653


The 19th ISPS Congress was held in New York City, 18th-22nd March 2015 


The History of the ISPS book ‘Fifty Years of Humanistic Treatment of Psychoses’ by Alanen, Y., Silver, A. and Gonzalez de Chavez, M. (2006) can be downloaded for free here

isps and its symposia

Order details:
Pardox Libros, S.L.
Santa Teresa, 2 - 28004 Madrid
Tel.: (34) 91 700 40 42
Fax: (34) 91 319 59 26


ISPS Liverpool 2017
The 20th International Congress of ISPS took place in Liverpool, United Kingdom. 
Wednesday 30th August – Saturday 2nd September, 2017. 
Twitter hashtag: #isps2017uk

July 2018Alison Summers steps down as co-editor of the ISPS Book Series, Anna Lavis continues and is joined by Andrew Shepherd. The series now contains 20 books with another 10 in preparation.


July 2019, the first female Chair of ISPS is elected, Ludi Van Bouwel


ISPS Rotterdam 2019

The 21st International Congress of the ISPS took pace in Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Stranger in the City: On the circular relationship between alienation and psychosis and the healing power of human reconnection.
Weds 28 August – Sunday 1 september 2019 #ispscon2019

2020 The COVID-19 pandemic disrupts plans for the ISPS Perugia 2021 congress, but instead a Virtual Conference is held for the first time in the history of ISPS, and ISPS starts organising free webinars and uploading the recordings on YouTube. View the recordings here

ISPS Perugia 2022

The 22nd International Congress of the ISPS took pace in Perugia, Italy
Co-constructing Healing Spaces
Weds 31st August – Sunday 4th September 2022 #ispsperugia

Shortly after the conference, which was attended by over 400 participants, Julie Kipp was elected the new Chair of ISPS.

The future...?

The 23rd International Congress of ISPS will take place in Finland in 2024. More news coming soon!


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ISPS Book Series

Finding Hope in the Li...

This book offers first-person accounts of the experience of psychosis from the inside and the outside, through the eyes of two doctors, one of whom...

ISPS Journal


The ISPS Journal Psychosis accepts personal and institutional subscriptions. All Individual Members of ISPS and members of regional ISPS groups receive quarterly issues of the journal as a membership benefit.

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