1. What is a Therapist with Lived Experience (TLE)?
Answer: A TLE is a registered counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapist, or other registered mental health professional (i.e. psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists) who is trained and supervised to practice talking therapy in their role (e.g. CBT, ACT, DBT, NT, Family Therapy etc), and has their own direct, personal experience of mental health challenges. Learn more here.
2. What do you mean by lived experience of mental health challenges and do my experiences ‘count’?
Answer: Any qualified therapist who self-identifies as having experienced their own mental health challenges is a Therapist with Lived Experience. The term ‘mental health challenges’ is our way of referring to mental health problems, ‘disorders’ or diagnoses without relying on language many people find pathologising. Therefore, when we say ‘lived experience of mental health challenges’ we mean personal experience of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, ptsd, bpd, eating disorders, psychosis, or bipolar disorder (etc.) though we may not personally describe our experiences this way ourselves, and may not have received or been informed of a clear, formal diagnosis. Lived experience refers to direct experience of living through these challenges, and is distinct from indirect experiences as a family member or friend. We welcome TLEs who identify as having faced mild challenges through to those who have faced severe challenges. We welcome TLEs who have had minimal or no contact with mental health services through to those who have encountered inpatient services and compulsory treatment. We welcome TLEs who consider their mental health challenges to be entirely in the past through to those who continue to manage these challenges to varying degrees, and those who have only just begun their own recovery journey. ATLEN is a space for us all.
3. What about therapists with lived experience of addictions?
Answer: ATLEN members are united by their shared identity as people who have experienced the mental health challenges described above. If you have lived experience of addictions, you are more than welcome to join ATLEN as long as you also feel you meet the description of lived experience of mental health challenges above.
4. What if I am a registered mental health professional but don’t practice talking therapy?
Answer: We aren’t set up for you at the moment. ATLEN is currently only open to fully registered, practicing therapists with lived experience (see points 1 & 2). We may expand the network in future to include registered mental-health professionals who provide other forms of support within the mental health sector but are not practicing talking therapy. But for now we are focused on the needs of those we know best. We hope the ATLEN website and Facebook page will allow us to share support with the rest of the professional lived experience community while we get things started. Be sure to follow the page and visit every now and then so you don’t miss any changes.
5. What if I am a student, trainee, or intern counsellor, psychologist, or psychotherapist?
Answer: We aren’t ready for you yet, but hope to expand the network in future to include student members. We encourage students with lived experience to contact us by email so we can take requests for advice and/or mentorship to the ATLEN members to consider. We hope the ATLEN website and Facebook page will allow us to share support with the rest of the professional lived experience community while we get things started. Be sure to follow the page and visit every now and then so you don’t miss any changes.
6. What if I am a professional from a field outside of but related to mental health (e.g. addictions, medical doctors, arts access services, traditional healers etc.)?
Answer: ATLEN is specifically designed for people with lived experience who work inside the mental health sector as practicing talking therapists. We encourage other professionals with lived experience to join their local service-user initiatives; many ATLEN members find great strength there too.
7. What if my profession or work-setting does not require registration?
Answer: ATLEN is only open to registered mental health professionals who are practicing TLEs (see points 1 & 2). Registration is important to ensuring all ATLEN members are practitioners of good repute who participate in all the requirements of sound ethical practice, supervision and professional development. There are many stigmatising myths we TLEs come up against. This is one way of beginning to refute some of them straight out of the gate. We appreciate there are mental health professionals who are not required to hold registration but also do invaluable work and face many of the same challenges as we do (e.g. cultural practitioners and some support workers). The ATLEN Working Group is discussing how to manage this. We may not be able to be everything to everyone, but you can all count on our support so do stay in touch.
8. Who will see the details I share in my expression of interest or application?
Answer: Your information will be kept confidential to the ATLEN Working Group (Miriam, Katie, Carina, and Sheree). We take turns monitoring and responding to emails and review all applications together. Please only share information you are comfortable with all four of us reading.
9. How much information do you need me to include in my membership application?
Answer: Not much. Just enough to know that you are a registered therapist, that you identify as having personal experience of mental health problems and the challenges of recovery (but you need not say much more than this about it), and to know that our aims align. See https://theATLEN.wordpress.com/join for a list of the details to include with your application.
Got another question?
Drop us a line at TherapistsWithLivedExperience@gmail.com and we’ll clear things up for you.
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This page updated 7 September 2019