Alternatives to Medication Conference Multimedia

Conference Materials:
Innovative Solutions for Building Recovery with Alternatives to Psychotropic Medication 

September 20 & 21, 2012

Hilton Garden Inn, Freeport, Maine


Day One

Guy Cousins, LCSW, LADC, CCS, Director Office of Substance Abuse, Acting Director Office of Adult Mental Health Services/DHHS


Psychotropic Medications: Problems and Solutions
Robert Whitaker, Author/Researcher

In his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, Robert Whitaker investigates the astonishing rise in the number of people enrolled in government disability due to mental illness over the past 20 years. He shared his research on how psychiatric medications affect the long-term course of schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorders—based on a review of the scientific literature. Additionally, he highlighted innovative programs in Europe producing good outcomes that might be models for reforming care in the United States.


Integrative Medicine for Behavioral Health
James Greenblatt, MD

Alternatives found in integrative medicine have begun to address the limitations of current psychiatric medications in the treatment of behavioral health conditions. Specifically, evidence-based research on cholesterol and essential fatty acids in nutrition and its effects on brain function provide examples to explore how integrative medicine approaches support behavioral health.


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Demystifying Psychiatric Drugs
Joanna Moncrieff, MD

The exploration of the different ways how psychiatric drugs work can expand our understanding of behavioral health symptoms and recovery. The standard disease-centered model that assumes that drugs correct underlying chemical imbalances was contrasted with the idea that they work in a drug-centered way by inducing altered mental states which suppress symptoms. Evidence supporting the drug-centered model was presented and its clinical implications were discussed.


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Patient’s Bill of Rights
Barry Duncan, PsyD

With the unprecedented rise in the rate of prescriptions for psychotropic medication, this session defined a Patient Bill of Rights that is consistent with evidence based medicine. The presenter translated the Bill of Rights into prescription guidelines that ensure patient preferences are followed and that we first do no harm.


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Panel Presentation: Implications for Practice


Mary Kelly

Barry Duncan

Miles Simmons

Joanna Moncrieff

Moderator: Bill Nemitz, Columnist

Panelists from a variety of perspectives of psychiatric services and experiences engaged with the audience in a thought-provoking conversation. This question and answer session explored the implications of what this means to the future direction of psychiatric healthcare. 



Day Two

Human Rights Imperative for More Choice in Behavioral Health
David Oaks

David Oaks, a fearless consumer activist and advocate, provided a human rights perspective on the need for more non-drug choices in behavioral health care. Oaks explored the psychiatric survivor perspective and gave examples from groups that represent the survivor voice. 


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Psychotherapy as a First Intervention
Barry Duncan, PsyD
This session explored the short term benefits and risks of psychotherapy versus medication for persons diagnosed with depression, anxiety and psychosis. A research- validated early warning system to improve outcomes regardless of client preference for psychotherapy or medication was highlighted.


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How and Why to Stop Taking Psychotropic Medications
David Cohen, PhD, LCSW

This session offered an up-to-date critical review of psychiatric drug withdrawal, tapering, and dose reduction strategies described in the medical literature and recommendations for client-centered work around drug withdrawal issues.


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SAMHSA Priorities and Presence in Region 1
A. Kathryn Power, MEd, SAMHSA Regional Administrator

An introduction to SAMHSA and a look at some of its strategic initiatives, this session highlighted SAMHSA’s position on alternatives to medication and how it supports recovery-oriented practice.


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Breakout Session A

A1. Hearing Voices Groups
Sera Davidow and Sarah Mouser

This session explored the history and perspective of the Hearing Voices movement. Attendees had the opportunity to discuss myths and misconceptions about the experience of hearing voices and to compare and contrast the Hearing Voices perspective with the medical model approach.


A2. Self-Help: A Complementary Approach for DIY Mainers
Troy Henderson and Gwen Heath

This session looked at the Do-It-Yourself attitude of low income rural Mainers and how it can promote recovery. Presenters discussed Marshall Rosenberg’s work of helping people become more resilient by connecting to what is alive in them. Self-help training and workshop resources were shared including such models as Pathways to Recovery, Living Well, and Whole Health Action Management.


A3. Ethical Issues: Conflict of Interest and Treatment Choices
Frank Chessa, PhD

Frank Chessa discussed the recent media, regulatory and political attention to conflicts of interest among clinicians and the allegation that these influence treatment choices. He discussed the definition of conflict of interest and the ethical implications of conflicts of interest. Last, he outlined current efforts at reform and discussed their potential effectiveness.


A4. Heart and Soul: Spiritual Care in the Journey of Recovery
Frederic Craigie, Jr., PhD

A very substantial body of literature attests to the significance of various spiritual perspectives and practices for health and well-being. Increasingly, the conversation has turned to the specifics of how the resources of spirituality may be incorporated in person-centered medicine. This session discussed a three-fold model in which the personal centeredness and groundedness of clinicians, the clinical encouragement of patients’ spiritual resources, and the organizational cultivation of spirited leadership and “soul” work in concert to support healing and wholeness for patients and clinicians alike. The presenter paid particular attention to themes of transcendence (helping people to let go of uncontrollable life experiences) and purpose (helping people to identify and give expression to personal life values).


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Breakout Session B

B1. Using Peer Support to Move Toward the Lives We Want
Kelly Staples and Katharine Storer, MSW

Participants learned the value of peer support in a person’s recovery process. Intentional Peer Support Skills were demonstrated through facilitator role play to show how they can be used in various relationship based conversations. This was an interactive workshop and the audience was encouraged to share scenarios for the facilitators to “work through” or to demonstrate with volunteers from the audience. Laughter was encouraged.


B2. Yoga as an Adjunct to Psychotherapy
John Yasenchak, EdD, LCPC, LADC, CCS

In this session, the theory and history of yoga was described as well as its therapeutic value in practice. Participants learned breathing techniques and other mindfulness skills to be used not only with clients, but as a form of self care.


B3. Functional Medicine in Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Miles Simmons, MD

This session outlined an integrative model of assessment and intervention in mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Simmons described the basic components of an integrative treatment plan including nutritional interventions and provided information on readily available blood tests that can be used as nutritional markers. The session highlighted essential nutrients for brain pathway functioning.
Closing Poem: Justice Be My Hero
Simonne Maline, Executive Director, Consumer Council System of Maine


Other Resources

Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education & Living
Co-Counseling International
Soteria Project Development Report 
The Awakening of Kundalini by Gopi Krishna
The Road Back