Jo Watson – Psychotherapist and activist

Presenter: Jo Watson

Title: Dropping The Disorder! – Challenging the medicalisation of emotional distress in counselling and psychotherapy.

Details: “As counsellors and psychotherapists surely we know that emotional distress is related to what one has experienced.  Haven’t we been talking about attachment and trauma for too long to suddenly forget this?  It is a disturbingly anomaly then that we as a profession seem to be colluding nicely with the biomedical mainstream take on mental distress that tells people they are ill.” 

In her presentation Jo will talk about the narrative of diagnosis and disorder that she argues has crept in to counselling and psychotherapy and she will suggest that this collusion with the medical model has served to obscure the stories of individuals by offering  ‘explanations’ of illness & disorder.

Jo will share how she has personally experienced moving from feeling isolated and hopeless about all of the above to feeling part of a massive movement for change.  She will tell her story about how joining with allies in activism was the only congruent way forward for her personally, politically and professionally and ask delegates to consider whether the same could potentially apply to them.

Jo will end her presentation with a poem that has become a part of the ‘A Disorder for Everyone!’ events that have been making their way around the UK over the last two and a half years.

About Jo

Jo Watson is a psychotherapist and activist with a history in the rape crisis movement of the 1990’s. She has worked therapeutically for the last 23 years with people who have experienced sexual violence and other trauma.

Jo taught on counselling courses for 15+ years and became increasingly frustrated and despairing with the infiltration of medicalised understandings within the profession.

Jo actively challenges the biomedical model of ‘mental health’ and believes that emotional distress is caused primarily by what is experienced as such she is committed to promoting a trauma informed philosophy which rejects the illness model.

Jo is the organiser of ‘A Disorder for Everyone!’ – an event touring the U.K challenging the biomedical model.

She is founder of the Facebook group ‘Drop the Disorder’, a Mad in the UK team member and a founding member of United for Integrity in Mental Health which is to be launched later this year

Jo presently represents United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) on a steering committee for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence that is working on creating guidelines for psychological therapists on prescribed psychoactive drugs.

Jo is the editor of PCCS Books newly published book “Drop the Disorder’ – Challenging the Culture of Psychiatric Diagnosis and exploring Trauma Informed Alternatives.”

Find out more about Jo’s work:

Click here to join the Drop the Disorder Facebook group