We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help


Healing the Distress of Psychosis

Listening with Psychotic Ears

Shannon Dunn

Publication Date - September 2018

ISBN: 9780190858759

384 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock


Even among mental health clinicians, the communications of individuals experiencing psychosis have historically been considered mysterious, bizarre, and invalid. These judgmental, inaccurate interpretations and accusatory attitudes can cause iatrogenic trauma, a significant obstacle to recovery. Healing the Distress of Psychosis focuses on practice-based and evidence-informed interventions to effectively understand and communicate with people who are experiencing psychotic symptoms. The text thoughtfully describes: the experience of psychosis, as well as the unique intervention method of fostering the therapeutic relationship; and the psychotic thought process from neurological, linguistic, and existential-psychological perspectives. Mental health professionals, individuals with lived psychotic experiences, and their family members and loved ones will find this book to be a strong and accurate voice that highlights the past and present disappointments in mainstream public mental health treatment, while delivering hope in creating a secure, self-determined life.


  • Includes case examples to illustrate concepts
  • Highlights the work of like-minded theorists and authors from throughout history
  • Documents what mental health treatment consumers are saying about their histories and the effective and humane interventions that they seek

About the Author(s)

Shannon Dunn, PhD, LCSW (CA & IL), CRADC, is Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work in the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California.


"I was encouraged at how the author educates readers on how to properly engage with empathy, respect, genuine interest, and a posture of humility when meeting patients with psychotic symptoms." -- Doody's Book Reviews

"This book demonstrates in a compelling manner, through reviews of both historical and contemporary trends, that human services practitioners are best able to help clients with psychotic symptoms when they enter into their clients' subjective worlds and attend to their clients' needs to develop meaning and purpose in their lives. The author illustrates the limitations of the medical model and provides useful strategies for practitioners to connect more personally and empathically with those who experience psychosis. She also does a fine job of comprehensively reviewing effective psychological and social interventions." -Joseph Walsh, PhD, Professor, School of Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University

"Healing the Distress of Psychosis is a book every mental health worker and administrator should read. It is full of practical guidance that emphasizes listening, patience, and hopefulness. It recognizes the role played by alcohol and street drugs in a way that most mental health books skip over. Funding, regulations, and training should be geared toward supporting the advice contained in Dr. Dunn's book rather than making it more difficult to implement." - Robert Nikkel, MSW, Founding Board Member, Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care; President of the Board, Dual Diagnosis Anonymous of Oregon

"Healing the Distress of Psychosis captures the struggle that exists between people who are living with a diagnosis and the traditional mental health system that relies heavily on psychotropic medications as the primary, and often only, treatment for psychosis. This book eloquently debunks myth after myth in a humanistic and compassionate manner. It is a must-read for everyone and will change the way professionals see their role." -Guyton Colantuono, Executive Director, Project Return Peer Support Network

"An engaging and historically thorough inquiry into the nature of psychosis, and a clarion call for dramatically changing how our mental health system responds to those experiencing it. The book's subtitle provides a brilliant and poetic summation of what Shannon Dunn is arguing for." -Robert Whitaker, Journalist and Author, Anatomy of an Epidemic; President, Mad in America Foundation

Table of Contents

    Preface: Everything You Need to Know to Navigate This Book

    Unit I: Traditional Treatment Approaches for Healing Psychosis
    Chapter 1: Types of Psychosis and General Intervention Approaches
    Chapter 2: Traumatized by "Treatment": Anthropological and Social Interactional Perspectives of the Person Who Lives with Psychosis
    Chapter 3: Brief History of Iatrogenic Trauma from the Mainstream Mental Health Treatment System
    Chapter 4: Evidence of Unethical and Ineffective Mainstream Mental Health Treatment
    Chapter 5: Historically Ethical and Effective Mental Health Approaches for Healing the Distress of Psychotic Experiences
    Summary of Unit I

    Unit II: New Discoveries About the Causes and Healing Approaches of Psychosis
    Chapter 6: The Relationship Between Early and Severe Trauma and Psychosis
    Chapter 7: The Relationship Between Neurobiology and Psychosis
    Summary of Unit II

    Unit III: Ethical and Professional Obligations Impact Macro, Mezzo, and Micro Levels of Treatment Delivery
    Chapter 8: Consumer/Psychiatric Survivor/Ex-Patient (C/S/X) Movement
    Chapter 9: Existential and Spiritual Philosophy for Healing the Distress of Psychosis
    Chapter 10: Listening with Psychotic Ears Philosophy and Clinical SkillsAppendix B: Chapter Resources
    Chapter 11: Practice-Based Interventions for Engaging the Most Difficult/Impaired
    Chapter 12: Survivor and Self-Care for Families and Clinicians Who Work with People Living with Symptoms of Mental Illness
    Summary of Unit III

    Unit IV: Where Do We Go from Here?
    Chapter 13: Conclusions and Future Remarks

    Appendix A: Related Associations
    Appendix B: Website Resources by Chapter