My name is Philip Benjamin. I am an Australian mental health nurse (trained at Larundel Hospital in the mid-seventies, which meant working in acute and long-term wards in a mental asylum for nine months per year and three months of classes), also with a degree in secondary teaching (majoring in Drama and Media Studies) and a Master of Mind and Society, which is a cross-disciplinary post-graduate degree from the faculties of Arts and Psychological Medicine at Monash University. This Masters was taught on the theme of “the mind as contested territory” by professors with Freudian and Lacanian approaches to ‘the mind’.
I was Convenor of the ISPS Australia Steering committee, and founding chairman of the ISPS Australia Board, but left that position in June 2105 to work independently (see www.isps.org, www.isps-us.org and www.ispsuk.org for more details, and check the isps.org.au web site to see if it is still under re-development).
This blog seemed to be a logical extension of some work I was doing for this group – compiling emails with links, similar to these posts, for the ISPS Aus-NZ email discussion group on yahoo.com. I work part time in a early psychosis prevention at intervention service on the Gold Coast and part time in psychiatric assessment roles in the Emergency Departments of three general hospitals in Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia, where the tourism slogan is “Beautiful one day, perfect the next…”
The views here are entirely my own and cannot be taken as representing those of my employers.
My professional interest is now almost exclusively in Open Dialogue and the Hearing Voices Approach. Open Dialogue (OD) is a form of Dialogical Practice devised to work with serious mental health crises (psychosis or suicide) in Finland, originated and developed by groups led by Yrjö Alanen and Jaakko Seikkula.
This work is based on the “need adapted” approach, which says that every crisis is unique and must be solved through careful and detailed examination of the situation, rather than through applications of labels and formulaic responses.
This is coupled with the idea that through “Open Dialogue”, the resources of the family and social system from which the patient comes can be harnessed for a complete recovery and re-integration into normal life, without residual symptoms and disabilities.
This idea may seem strange to those used to the idea of mental illnesses as genetically based progressive brain disorders, but after careful thought, this accepted model of mental illness seems to be totally inadequate and the paradigm on which the Open dialogue approach is based a much stronger and more sympathetic force.
The Hearing Voices Approach is based on the discovery that the content of the voices some people hear (which are not necessarily due to mental illness, but can be very distressing for people who have been exposed to overwhelming trauma, some of which does occur within mental health services).
More on this to come – see the links to current workshops above…