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How might we adapt psychotherapy techniques to work with psychotic states?
Many if not most of us work with people who hear voices, experience persuasive delusions, or bizarre insisting sensual experiences. Such work can be the most enriching and inspiring work as a clinician – but also the most terrifying. An increasing number of service users talk of being triggered by psychotherapy, reporting that techniques such as interpretation can feel attacking and cause a decompensation. As a result many clinicians are scared of psychosis, a fear that contaminates the therapy space and blocks the possibility of a working through. In this seminar, I would like us to discuss how techniques might be modified to be most useful to clients experiencing psychotic self-states. And how this shifting of power dynamics can inspire our overall practice.
Dr Jay Watts is a psychotherapist, clinical psychologist and activist based in London. Jay spent 15 years working in the NHS including leading an Early Intervention in Psychosis Service, a large Integrative Therapy Service and a Family Interventions Project. She later worked as Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology at City University, and is currently Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London. Jay is on the editorial boards of the European Journal for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Transformations and Self & Society. She writes regularly for national newspapers as well as the academic press. However, her clinical work and the activism it inspires is always first and foremost. Jay tweets as @Shrink_at_Large in a small attempt to help complicate public discourse about mental health, and situate psychotherapy.