How can we liberate ourselves — and truly care for each other?
I am a counselor and facilitator working with individuals, couples, families and groups via phone and Skype. I have taught and consulted on mental health, trauma, psychosis, medications, domestic violence, conflict resolution, and organizational development in more than 13 countries, and been widely featured in the media for my advocacy efforts around mental health care. My work and learning arose from my own experiences of recovery from madness, and today I am passionate about new visions of mind and what it means to be human.
I hold a Diploma and Masters Degree in Process Work from the Process Work Institute, and my study over the years has included the Integral Counseling program at the California Institute of Integral Studies, training with Jaakko Seikkula and colleagues in Open Dialogue at the Institute for Dialogic Practice, the WRAP facilitators’ training, and certification in NADA protocol auricular acupuncture at Lincoln Recovery in New York City. I am currently a PhD candidate at Maastricht University Medical Center – School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, supervised by Dr. Jim van Os. My work as a therapist and group facilitator has focused especially on trauma, oppression, and working with extreme states of consciousness that get diagnosed as psychosis; my PhD research is focusing on psychiatric medications and alternatives. I also have extensive background in community organizing and organizational development, and see mental health as a community and social experience.
As my experience has grown in working with alternative mental health, trauma, and medication empowerment, I have been invited to present and teach groups in a variety of settings. I have consulted and presented for more than 50 organizations in over 13 countries, including the Federal Office on Violence Against Women, the American Psychiatric Association Institute on Psychiatric Services, the Alaska Peer Mental Health Consortium, Alaska Governor’s Council on Disabilities, International Network Towards Alternatives for Recovery, Oregon Health and Sciences University, New York University Gallatin School, Hearing Voices Congress, International Association of Process Oriented Psychology, New Avenues for Youth, University of Massachusetts Nursing School, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Mental Disability Rights International, Recovery Learning Community, Multnomah County Department of Community Justice, Empowerment Initiatives, and many more.
I have been widely interviewed and featured in the media, including New York Times “Revisiting Schizophrenia: Are Drugs Always Needed?, Radio New Zealand, National Public Radio, Newsweek magazine “Listening to Madness”, Forbes magazine online, in the books Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologists Search for the Meanings In Madness, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon, Republic of Outsiders: The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers, and Rebels, by Alissa Quart, Show Me All Your Scars: True Stories of Living With Mental Illness chapter by Susie Meserve, and in Best Practices in Mental Health: An International Journal. I have written extensively on mental health, social justice, and environmental issues, including my book Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness, the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Medications, Turning Wheel: Journal of Engaged Buddhism, Adbusters, the Sierra Club anthology Call To Action:Peace, Justice, and Ecology, Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness, a chapter in Way Out Of Madness: Dealing with Your Family After You’ve Been Diagnosed with a Psychiatric Disorder, and a chapter in the Oxford University Press textbook Modern Community Mental Health: An Interdisciplinary Approach. I’ve appeared in the films Healing Voices, Crazywise, and Coming Off Psych Drugs: A Meeting Of Minds. My radio show Madness Radio: Voices And Visions from Outside Mental Health is heard on the Pacifica Network and was profiled in the UK Guardian newspaper.
More About My Background:
I grew up in an artistic family that cultivated my creativity and imagination; I was a magician and performer as a kid, and games and books enthralled me. In school I became an outsider, pulled between my love of learning and my differences from other students. Growing up in a family haunted by war and trauma, my sensitivity turned towards self-preservation, as I tried to make sense of the racial, class, and gender confIicts that surrounded me in the South. My father is a Korean War veteran and psychiatric survivor, and my mother is of mixed race Choctaw Indian descent and was orphaned as a girl. This challenging context ignited a lifelong personal search to embrace both the vastness of my imaginary worlds and the urgency of social justice and healing.
As a teenager I became a community organizer in the peace, ecology, and anti-racism movements, but the traumas of my childhood and longtime struggles with emotional distress landed me in a psychiatric hospital at age 26. After a difficult year in San Francisco’s public mental health system, I slowly learned to live with and care for my madness by stepping away from my diagnosis and embracing human connection, holistic health, and spiritual practice. That recovery process inspired me to found and worked with several community organizations, to promote mental health alternatives and help others.
Today I teach what I have learned and use my experience to help guide people to their own discoveries of healing, as a counselor, through my writing, leading trainings, and consulting with organizations. My exploration led me to study Process Work and earn a Diploma in this Jungian and systems based approach to human experience, as well as studying Open Dialogue with Jaakko Seikkula and colleagues. I am actively involved in creating a new vision of mental health based on understanding the meaningfulness of what gets labeled as psychosis and madness. I am passionate about mental diversity and welcoming different states of consciousness as vital parts of the human community.
A longtime meditator and yoga practitioner, I love books, bicycling, and being in nature, and am an avid runner and contact improvisation dancer. I am deeply moved by the mystery, suffering, and potentials of what it is to be a human on planet earth, and strive for a way everyone, no matter where our minds take us, can find a way home.
Professional Positions and Community Development Work:
- PhD candidate, Maastricht University Medical Center – School for Mental Health and Neuroscience.
- Madness Radio the Pacifica FM community radio show I host, based at KBOO FM in Oregon
- Institute for Dialogic Practice where I completed a two year certificate in Open Dialogue
- Portland Hearing Voices a mental diversity group in Portland Oregon I am Director
- Mad In America, Robert Whitaker’s web magazine, where I am a blogger
- Slovakia Institute of Process Oriented Psychology graduate school, Adjunct Faculty
- Process Work Center of Portland graduate shool where I hold a Diploma and Masters Degree
- Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, past Board member
- Freedom Center the Northampton MA support community I co-founded
- The Icarus Project former co-coordinator and longtime organizer
- Mental Disability Rights International where I have consulted in Argentina, Peru, and Mexico
- International Network Towards Alternatives for Recovery, past Board member
- Valley Free Radio Northampton’s community FM radio station I initiated with Ed Russell
- Mental Health Association of Portland past Board member
- Hearing Voices Network USA where I am a founding member and ongoing collaborator
Professional Association Memberships:
- International Society for the Psychological Study of Schizophrenia and Psychosis
- American Counseling Association
- National Acupuncture Detoxification Association
- International Hearing Voices Network
- Julian Jaynes Society
- International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry
- Process Work Institute Diplomate Alumni Society
- International Association for Process Oriented Psychology
- International Network Towards Alternatives For Recovery
- Hearing Voices Network USA
“When I was growing up, I wanted to be a magician,” remembers Hall. “Then I wanted to be a biologist, then I wanted to be a psychologist, then I wanted to be a community organizer, then I wanted to be a philosopher. Now I’m sort of all of them.”
— Interview in the Portland Mercury newspaper, June 2009.