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Grad Students To Learn About The Problems of Serious Mental Illness From Someone Who Has Been There
And that someone is Dr Carolyn Dobbins, the author of the recently released book, What A Life Can Be: One Therapist's Take on Schizo-Affective Disorder. She is not only a PhD in clinical psychology but she also has schizo-affective disorder.
And who better to give insight to the graduate students learning to become mental health counselors than someone who is both a mental health counselor/psychotherapst and has a serious mental illness? Much of Dr Dobbins' book deals with the onset of her illness as a teen and world class skier, her struggles with homelessness, jail, psychiatric hospitalizations and her efforts to obtain her PhD in clinical psychology from Vanderbilt. However, she also offers some much needed advise to others suffering with serious mental illness and to her professional colleagues.
For her suffering colleagues, she talks about the 6 A's of self-help. These are Awareness; Affirmation;
One person with schizophrenia, after reading her book, sent us an e-mail saying "what hope it gives! I've been trained by many people - my parents and my supervisor at work included - to believe that there are things I cannot do because of my schizophrenia, particularly hold down a full-time job. Carolyn blasts that fish out of the water! I hope I can muster more courage to show what my 'life can be.' "
Carolyn's response was "I got my wish - wanting to help 'just one person'." Her book will help many based on this one comment.
Her hope for professionals working in the mental health field is to demonstrate to them that people with serious mental illnesses have every chance for freedom without ignoring the true limits their disorders place on them. She mentions how wrong it was for a psychiatrist to tell her that she could not possibly be schizo-affective because she was in a PhD program. Or a colleague in a mental health clinic who did not know of her illness and said you could not possibly want that person as a patient - they have schizophrenia.
The University of Tennessee grad students will surely benefit from listening to Dr Dobbins as, hopefully, will the clients they have in future.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, in its review of What A Life Can Be said:
"Society has high expectations of a mental health professional and, rightfully or not, often has lower ones for individuals with mental illness. The author of this book shows how people are more than their illness, their profession or their position in a family. It is the sum of all parts that makes a person. It is Carolyn’s acceptance of her situation that has contributed to her success." See see http://www.nami.org/
The review in Bookpleasures concluded:
"I highly recommend this book to anyone who either suffers from or has a family member who suffers from this or other kinds of mental disorder, to lawyers who work with clients with this kind of disorder and, yes, to psychologists who can expand their own consciousness by experiencing this situation from the other side. If you give this book the attention it deserves you will find it emotionally exhausting but well worth the effort for the reward of significant and perhaps life changing enlightenment."
What A Life Can Be: One Therapist's Take on Schizo-Affective Disorder, by Carolyn Dobbins PhD, ISBN 978-0-9866522-
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Publishers of quality books on mental illness including After Her Brain Broke: Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity, My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery From Mental Illness and Schizophrenia Medicine's Mystery Society's Shame.