First Joint New Zealand and Australian ISPS Conference

Group news

First Joint New Zealand and Australian ISPS Conference

The 8th ‘Making Sense of Psychosis’ conference was held at the University of Auckland on the 29th to 31st of August 2012. This year’s event, which had as its theme Valuing Subjective Experience, was historic in that it was the first joint conference of the New Zealand and Australian branches of ISPS. The conference was supported by Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa Z, the NZ Psychological Society, the Mental Health Foundation and the University of Auckland.

About 100 people attended some or all of the conference, with 50 attending the training workshops on the first day. Given that training budgets for staff have been slashed over the past months we were delighted at the attendance.

Our foremost international speaker was Professor Colin Ross (Baylor University, USA) whose well attended workshop was entitled Talking To the Voices: A Treatment Approach for Trauma, Dissociation and Psychosis. Colin also delivered a keynote address on the topic of Biological Approaches to Psychosis: Promising Areas of Scientific Investigation and Scientific Dead Ends – What is the Role of Vitamin D?

Gary and Kathryn Platz (Wellink Trust, Wellington), an expert by experience and his wife, gave a wonderful workshop called Working with Families: Love, Madness and the Healing Power in Natural Connections.

Our other keynote speakers were:

Dr Melissa Taitimu (Te Rarawa, Headspace, Gold Coast)
– Decolonising Psychosis: Kaupapa Maori Healing in 21st Century Clinical Practice
Kellie Comans (Gateway Community Health, Wodonga, Victoria)
– Making Sense of Voices that are Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know
Dr James Scott (University of Queensland)
– Does Childhood Trauma Cause Psychosis? A Review of the Evidence
Professor Robert Schweitzer (Queensland University of Technology)
– A Metacognitive Narrative Approach to the Treatment of People with Psychotic Spectrum Disorders
and, of course,
Debra Lampshire (University of Auckland)
– What’s Mine is Mine and What’s Yours is Yours!

The breadth of the conference is illustrated by the titles of just a few of the other talks presented:
The Nutters Club: Using Mainstream Media to promote Mental Health.
How is the Subjective Experience of Families/Whanau influenced by the Bio-Medical Model?
Shadows and Colours in the Art of Madness: Dialoguing in Therapeutic Spaces with a Maori Artist.
Every Thought leads to Infinity: Visionary Experiences and creative Illness in Carl C. Jung’s Red Book and Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis
A Journey Shared: A Client and Therapist reflect on Coming to Understand Madness.

As always, while the workshops and speakers were fascinating many people commented that the most important thing was the opportunity to spend some time with kindred spirits.

Sadly, this was John Read’s last conference in New Zealand (at least for a while!) as he is moving to England in February 2013 to take up a post at Liverpool University. The final session of the last day was set aside (to John’s surprise) to give people who might not see John again before he leaves an opportunity to express their feelings, as well as their appreciation for what John has achieved. His research has for workers in the mental health sector, for families and people recovering from psychosis given hope and courage to consider other options beyond the bio-medical model. John’s writings and words have been a powerful scientific tool to argue for and defend social and psychological interventions, as well as to listen to the voices of those who are experiencing psychosis. What also emerged was just how much John has been the key person in establishing and running ISPSNZ conferences, and his expertise, experience, as well as his international involvement with ISPS will be sorely missed. No wonder there were quite a few teary eyes.

At the AGM, a strong ten person committee was elected, including experts by experience, psychologists, psychiatrists, and representatives of families and the NGO sector.


Ingo Lambrecht

Donation to ISPS

Your donation will help support the objectives of ISPS in advancing education, training and knowledge of mental health professionals in the treatment and prevention of psychotic mental disorders for the public benefit.