“A Disorder for Everyone!” - Exploring the culture of psychiatric diagnosis, creating change

“A Disorder for Everyone!” - Exploring the culture of psychiatric diagnosis, creating change
  • When: Friday, 20th April 2018, 9:00 am
  • Where: Carrs Lane Conference Centre Carrs Lane Birmingham B4 7sx

Click here to purchase tickets

AD4E is returning to Birmingham, this will be our 9th event. We are delighted to be supported by RSVP

Contributors include Dr Lucy Johnstone, Dr Jacqui Dillon, Jessica Eaton, Clare Shaw, Jo Watson & Nollaig McSweeney, Chris Coombs 

Who Attends?

This day is for anyone who is interested in and concerned about the current debates in 'mental health.'

It provides a space to explore the critical questions of the day around the biomedical model and the narrative of 'diagnosis and disorder!'

Attendees from past AD4E events have included people who identify as the following :-

people with lived experience of emotional distress, supporters of people with lived experience, survivors, psychologists, journalists, activists, counsellors, service users, service refusers, psychotherapists, mental health support professionals, psychiatrists, managers and individuals with a general personal interest.

About the day

The event features not just professionals but people from a diverse range of backgrounds who have an essential contribution to make to the debate.

Lucy Johnstone presents the current debates and controversies about psychiatric diagnosis. It is increasingly acknowledged, even within the mental health establishment, that categories like 'schizophrenia', 'bipolar disorder' and 'personality disorder' lack validity. The assumption that distress is best understood as disease can have very serious consequences for the individual, their identity, and their path to recovery. Lucy will present alternatives to diagnosis which can help people to make sense of experiences of distress, however extreme, and which are based on working together to explore personal meaning.

Other contributors will be presenting a range of dynamic and powerful presentations/workshops that add to and compliment Lucy's presentation. (Details to be added next to the individual speakers)

About Lucy - Dr Lucy Johnstone is a UK clinical psychologist, trainer, speaker and writer, and a long-standing critic of biomedical model psychiatry. She has worked in adult mental health settings for many years, alternating with academic posts. She is the former Programme Director of the Bristol Clinical Psychology Doctorate, a highly regarded course which was based on a critical, politically-aware and service-user informed philosophy, along with an emphasis on personal development.

Lucy has authored a number of books, (including 'Users and Abusers of Psychiatry, 2nd edn 2000) articles and chapters on topics such as psychiatric diagnosis, formulation, the psychological effects of ECT, and the role of trauma in breakdown.

Lucy was a contributor to the Division of Clinical Psychology 'Position Statement on Classification' 2013. She is currently convening a group of leading UK clinical psychologists and mental health experts who are working to develop an evidence-based and conceptually coherent alternative to the current diagnostic systems.

Lucy's book is available here: A Straight-Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis & check out Lucy's articles for Mad in america here: https://www.madinamerica.com/author/ljohnstone/

Twitter - @ClinpsychLucy

About Jo - Jo Watson is a psychotherapist, trainer and activist who started out in the survivor and rape crisis movements of the 1990's. She has worked therapeutically for the last 20 years with people who have experienced trauma. Jo actively challenges the biomedical model in mental health both inside and outside of her work and links emotional distress to psycho-social causes. (Trauma, oppression, lack of positive attachment etc.)

Jo believes that in many cases the identification with a ‘diagnosis’ is damaging and counterproductive to a satisfactory healing process and that alternative routes to understanding distress should be offered.

Jo founded the facebook group 'Drop The Disorder!' in September 2016 as a place where the issues surrounding the biomedical model can be discussed. Jo is organising and promoting "A Disorder For Everyone!" which is presently making its way around the UK!

www.jowatsonpsychotherapy.co.uk / Twitter - @dropthedisorder / AD4E website: www.adisorder4everyone.com

Read about how the event came about in Jo's Mad in America' blog!

About Nollaig - Nollaig McSweeney qualified as a mental health nurse in the UK in 1997 and worked in acute psychiatry for quite some time before she realised that the so-called ‘science’ behind it was highly questionable. This insight was largely sparked by reading Rosenhan’s 1973 study – On Being Sane in Insane Places. Nollaig is a valued member and contributor of "Drop the disorder' facebook group and is an activist for change.

About Jacqui -  Dr Jacqui Dillon is a writer, activist, international speaker and trainer. She has personal and professional experience, awareness and skills in working with trauma and abuse, dissociation, ‘psychosis’, hearing voices, healing and recovery. Jacqui has lectured and published worldwide and is a skilled facilitator in complex learning environments and has a track record of creating and sustaining user centred initiatives and of affecting change at all levels. Jacqui is also a voice hearer.

Jacqui on "Why did I go Mad?" - BBC2 Horizon 2nd May, 2017, BBC 2 9PM, See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mgxfHorizon

Check out more about jacqui via her website here

About Clare - Clare Shaw has been described by the Arvon Foundation as 'one of the country's most dynamic young poets' and we are delighted that she will be performing her work for us at 'A Disorder For Everyone!'  Clare's poetry often addresses political and personal conflict and it is fuelled by a strong conviction in the transformative and redemptive power of language. Find out more about Clare in her fab interview for Writers Aloud.


About Jessica - Jessica Eaton is a national independent specialist in the psychology of victims of sexual violence, abuse, sexual trauma and the social phenomena of victim blaming. She is a doctoral researcher at the Centre for Criminological and Forensic Psychology at the University of Birmingham. She was shortlisted for the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work raising awareness of violence against women and girls – specifically for her work challenging the psychiatric diagnoses of women and girls who have experienced sexual traumas. She has recently developed and validated a new psychometric measure of victim blaming of women and girls, written the new CSE evidence review and published two studies exploring whether CSE training can change police officer and social worker attitudes towards victims of CSE.

About Akima - Dr Akima Thomas is a feminist activist and comes from a background in nursing and social work. Founder and Clinical Director of Women and Girls Network a holistic therapeutic service working with women and girls surviving gendered violence. Akima has pioneered working from a trauma informed approach and has developed a strengths based non pathologising clinical model; the Holistic Empowerment Recovery Model (HER) integrating healing of mind body and spirit. More recently Akima has researched women’s healing journey chronicling their strategies of resistance rebellion and resilience to ensure survival.

About Chris - Chris Coombs is studying to become a therapist. He is a suicide attempt survivor who has dealt with depression and anxiety on a personal level for over a decade. Over that timespan he has found those initially helpful labels to be increasingly redundant and has come to focus more on personal identity and meaning. He has recently begun blogging about his experience of internalised ableism and taboos from within the disability community. Chris will be sharing one of his powerful blogs.

About Shazia - Shazia Ali is black feminist activist a teacher, a peer support worker culture changer, trauma survivor and a co-founder of wellbeing cafe. She co- facilitates workshops around mental health and structural inequalities ‘seldom heard’ communities. Her background is in equalities and women and low pay. She has BA honours in Gender studies and PGCE.

About Eleanor - Eleanor Hope – Life Coach, trainer, speaker and activist. Background in Community Development and mental health, NHS & BAME communities and Peer Support facilitator. Workshop facilitator on structural inequalities and marginalised communities, Diversity and Wellbeing. Contributor to the Equality Act 2010 in Mental Health edited by Hari Sewell Founder and director of Hope Matters, a coaching and training personal development social enterprise.


The workshops will be facilliatatd by Shazia Ali and Eleanor Hope and The Rape and Sexual Violence Project

(Details to follow)

Venue - Carrs Lane Church Centre B4 7sx

Making this event as accessible as possible to people who are unable to afford the fee / full fee is a key consideration for us. As a result we have been as efficient as possible and do not provided lunch or programmes etc. It is a 'no paper' event and all resouces and presentations are made available via the website via passwords afterwards.

We hope you support the decision to run the event cost effectively for this reason.


*Our events feature numerous contributors and we cannot guarentee that every speaker booked will attend. If an advertised speaker cannot attend we will do our best to replace them with someone equally spectacular!