Family Recovery Online Course

An Online Family Recovery Course

Taught by Krista Mackinnon (co-Founder with Will Hall of

Enrollment: $150. Registration four times each year. Asynchronous course runs 8-weeks online, times flexible.

For more information and to register, contact

Course organized, Family Outreach and Response Program, and Mother Bear Community Action Network.

Through a dynamic and supportive online learning community, this 8-week course will support and educate families and friends of people who have received a psychiatric diagnosis and/or are struggling with mental health problems. Using latest research and practical tools for recovery, Recovering Our Families addresses: Stories of Your Experience; the Continuum of Mental Health, Distress, and Psychosis; Fundamentals of Recovery; the Power of Hope + Resilience; Strengths Based Perspective; Relationship Building Amidst Psychosis; Boundaries, Limits and Barriers; and Celebrating Recovery Stories.

This course is highly recommended for family members struggling to help relatives in crisis. Krista Mackinnon brings extensive practical experience working with hundreds of families at Toronto Canada’s Family Outreach and Response Program, a support agency that truly makes a difference in people’s lives. – Will Hall

Krista MackinnonKrista Mackinnon is mental health recovery consultant/trainer/counsellor in the capacities of peer support, street outreach, education, community organizing, and family counselling. Trained in yoga and mindfulness based cognitive therapy, she currently practices and resides in Costa Rica. She is the CEO of, an innovative online therapeutic education and support community for families that works in partnership with Family Outreach & Response Program (Toronto) and MotherBear CAN (North Carolina).

Open Dialogue

A collection of resources on Open Dialogue and Open Dialogue practices

“Open Dialogue” is an innovative approach to acute psychiatric crises developed by Jaakko Seikkula, Marku Suttela, and the multidisciplinary team at Keropudas Hospital in Tornio, Finland. Starting in the eighties, there have been a variety of research studies of Open Dialogue and its outcomes with early psychosis. Garnering widespread international attention, the results consistently show that this approach reduces hospitalization, the use of medication, and recidivism when compared with treatment as usual. For example, in a five-year study, 83% of patients had returned to their jobs or studies or were looking for a job (Seikkula et al. 2006), In the same study, 77% did not have any residual symptoms. Such outcomes led the Finnish National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health to award a prize recognizing the Keropudas group for “the ongoing development of psychiatric care over a period of ten years.” — From the description at the Institute for Dialogic Practice

The principles and values of Open Dialogue as practiced out of Keropudas hospital in Finland draw from multiple rich traditions, including but not limited to Milan family therapy, the work of Dr. Tom Andersen, the Need Adapted Treatment model, and the psychology of Mikhail Bakhtin. Many people in the US and internationally are now studying and rediscovering this tradition, in methods such as the treatment meeting dialogue, limiting use of psychiatric medications, working in teams, reflecting process, and seeing psychosis as taking place in the “in between spaces” between people.

The Institute for Dialogic Practice, directed by Dr. Mary Olson, is the U.S.-based training facility for Finnish Open Dialogue and dialogical therapy

Preparing Open Dialogue Approach for Adaptation in the US – UMass Medical School research project

The Network of Dialogical Practices, Europe’s Open Dialogue network founded by Jaakko Seikkula and colleagues

The International Network for the Treatment of Psychoses, founded by Tom Andersen

Need Adapted Treatment Model, developed by Alanen, Räkköläinen, Lehtinen, Aaltonen, and Rasimus

Madness Radio interview with Mary Olson on Open Dialogue

Open Dialogue — Alternative Care for Psychosis In Finland

Open Dialogue: A Documentary by Daniel Mackler

Open Dialogue: a documentary on a Finnish alternative approach to healing psychosis

Finnish Open Dialogue: High recovery rates leave many psychiatric beds empty

The Open Dialogue Approach to Psychosis: Its poetics and micropolitics

Seikkula: Inner and outer voices in the present moment of family and network therapy

Olson: Family and Network Therapy for a System of Care: “A Pedagogy of Hope”

Need Adapted Treatment of New Schizophrenic Patients: Experiences and Results of the Turku Project

Kjellberg Chapter on Scandinavia / Finland Approach to Psychosis

Mental Health Trialogue Network, Ireland

Open Dialogue UK

Peer Open Dialogue at the NHS in the UK

Parachute NYC – Need Adapted Treatment model through the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, with shared roots with Open Dialogue

Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics, by G. Morson & C. Emerson

Family Therapy: An Intimate History, by Lynn Hoffman

Steam of Life film – Finnish men and saunas

Reflecting Teams, introduction to Tom Andersen’s book, by Lynn Hoffman

The Reflecting Team: Dialogue and Meta-Dialogue in Clinical Work by Tom Andersen

Lynn Hoffman essay Beyond Power and Control

Developing Open Dialogue website has useful links and resources

Michael Rymer’s film Face To Face dramatizes a workplace restorative justice mediation that has interesting resonance with Open Dialogue

Story of the Weeping Camel about healing in a traditional nomadic tribe in Mongolia was studied at the IDP as evocative of Open Dialogue principles

Video on Coming Off Medications: A Harm Reduction Approach

With the help of Portland visionary colleagues Kent Bye, Jen Gouvea, and Jonathan Marrs I produced a short introductory video of me describing coming off psychiatric drugs. The approach is drawn from my Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, which can be downloaded for free here:

This video provides some basic guidance for anyone considering reducing or coming off psychiatric medications and their supporters, which is discussed in greater detail in the Harm Reduction Guide. This video and Guide are in the spirit of peer support and mutual aid for educational purposes, and not medical advice. (While everyone is different, coming off medications, especially abruptly, can sometimes be dangerous. Seek support when possible and use caution.)

You can contact me at Please share this video; it’s Creative Commons copyright 2011 BY-NC-ND and the url is here: Also it’s been translated into Czech here:

Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal

The Icarus Project and Freedom Center’s 52-page illustrated guide gathers the best information we’ve come across and the most valuable lessons we’ve learned about reducing and coming off psychiatric medication. Based in more than 10 years work in the peer support movement, this Guide is used internationally by individuals, families, professionals, and organizations, and is available a growing number of translations. Includes info on mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, risks, benefits, wellness tools, psychiatric drug withdrawal, information for people staying on their medications, detailed Resource section, and much more. A ‘harm reduction’ approach means not being pro- or anti- medication, but supporting people where they are at to make their own decisions, balancing the risks and benefits involved. Written by Will Hall, with a 55-member health professional Advisory Board providing research assistance and more than 50 collaborators involved in developing and editing. The guide has photographs and art throughout, and a beautiful original cover painting by Jacks McNamara.

Now in a revised and expanded Second Edition.

Note: the guide is Creative Commons copyright and you have advance permission to link, copy, print, and distribute for non-commercial purposes, as long as you don’t
alter it and you credit the source.

Download and read the Guide in English.

Download a printer version, with scrambled pages ready to fold into a booklet (print double sided on legal paper, or send to a shop; booklet assembly instructions here). Download a powerpoint version here.

Download the Audiobook version mp3 here (rt/cntrl-click save as).

Download a European printer version in English, with scrambled pages ready to fold into a booklet (print double sided on A4 paper).

You can also order a bound, color cover edition through bookstores.

Read about the making of the first edition and second edition of the Guide.



The Guide is available in the following languages, some also with printer versions:

Spanish – Castellano/Español (printer version)

German – Verfügbar Deutsch (printer version)

Greek – Ελληνική

Bosnian – Bosanskom

Russian – русский 

Danish – Dansk

Dutch – Nederlands

Croatian – Hrvatski (printer version)

Japanese – 日本で利用可能 (printer version)

Italian – Italiano (printer version)

Thai – ไทย

Chinese – 減害 手冊 脫離精神科藥物

French – Français (printer version)

Norwegian – Norsk

Czech – Čeština


For more information on coming off psychiatric medication, please see the Icarus coming off forums,, the UK website, and Will Hall’s webpage at

Article by on “Addressing Non-adherence to Antipsychotic Medication: a Harm-Reduction Approach” in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing

Also check out these videos with Will Hall (and this one translated into Czech): and this audio on “Coming Off Medications” from the 2009 Hearing Voices Congress.



Can you connect me with a psychiatrist to help come off medications?

There are many misunderstandings based on the idea of finding a “good” psychiatrist. While a supportive and understanding medical professional can be vital to any medication process, truly supportive doctors are few and far between. There is no need to wait on a medication reduction process just because you don’t have the perfect doctor to tell you what to do. And I have often seen that psychiatrists who claim to use meds “only when needed,” be “holistic,” or use only a “low dose” will end up misleading patients into a pro-medication bias. ‘Only when needed” ends up meaning “anytime things get hard,” “holistic” ends up meaning being ok with supplements as long as you still take meds, and “low dose” ends up meaning the lowest ‘therapeutic’ dose recommended by drug manufacturers.

Sometimes the search for a “good” psychiatrist means assuming mental health problems are just like physical problems – they aren’t. Or the search for a good psychiatrist reflects the hope that an expert knows more about the right way than we ourselves do – they don’t. We may assume we can’t take the lead about medication reduction, or that support can only come from a doctor. We need to work with our prescriber as an equal partner, seeing their role as limited, and we need to be involved in learning and getting support for the life change process involved. Medication harm reduction and withdrawal is so much broader than just deciding on dosage and meds. Successful medication reduction usually means taking an active role in the process — and even educating our prescribers.

Psychiatrists are not needed for prescription; a general practitioner, nurse, or even a naturopathic physician in some states can prescribe. People can and frequently do choose dosages and work with pharmacists or compound pharmacies directly when their prescriber is not being collaborative. Medication issues are not medical procedures; medications are not treating disease like antibiotics treat infection. These are life change processes: a twenty minute meeting every two months often has little meaning for life change. And even when a psychiatrist presents themselves with confidence and authority, they are still working from guesswork: if you go to several psychiatrists and compare their advice, you will receive several very different sets of recommendations. You will quickly realize that when it comes to mental health issues, their authority is more of a stance and role than actual certainty. Doctors are generally basing what they do on guesswork, and don’t usually have time to get to know you and your needs.

While expertise on mending  a broken leg is appropriate for medical authority, mending a broken heart, dealing with emotions, traumas, life problems, and life changes is more than a medical procedure. This is a human process that needs supportive relationships, emotional expression, and listening, not an attitude of fixing a machine. I encourage people to take charge of their own decisions about what psychoactive substances to use and how to use them, relying on experts when needed but realizing that it is you who have to make decisions about your own life. Pills are always wrapped up in relationships and meaning, and doctors usually have no training in relationships or meaning. Depending on a medical authority who treats the brain but not the person is often a way to create more problems.

When people do want a referral for a prescriber, I point them to the resource listings at Mad In America, the website Beyond Meds, and the ISPS-US, as well as asking local holistic practitioners. Coming off meds is a growing concern and interest, and there are often resources out there if we keep looking.