The CPN hosts Dr Daniel Fisher, psychiatrist, activist & co-creator of ‘Emotional CPR’

In late July, the Centre for Psychiatric Nursing hosted visiting US-based psychiatrist and renowned mental health advocate Dr Daniel Fisher, who delivered a public lecture titled ‘Resisting the medicalisation of mental health: the Empowerment Model of Recovery’.

In this two-hour lecture, Dr Fisher spoke to what he describes as his ‘major message’ and ‘life’s work’: the urgent need, as he sees it, to “transform the mental health system from a pathology-based ‘medical model’ of treatment, to a trauma-informed ‘recovery of full life’ approach”.

Dr Fisher is co-founder of the US-based National Empowerment Center (NEC), and a co-creator of ‘Emotional CPR’ training.  He is also one of few psychiatrists who publically discuss their own experience of psychosis, psychiatric diagnosis and recovery from mental illness.

To explain the key differences between the ‘medical model’ and his ‘Empowerment Recovery model’, Dr Fisher makes two main points. The first is “that we say to the people going through the experience (of psychosis and/or extreme mental distress) that this is not a permanent condition, and that other people have recovered. I share some of my own experience with them and how I too at times heard voices and had the television talk to me”. The second is ‘that we help [people] understand that these symptoms are expressions of distress over their lack of connection on a deep emotional level to the people around them, [and] that they involve loss and trauma and interruption in social development.