In this Issue

Summit on Diagnostic Alternatives held in D.C.

The Global Summit on Diagnostic Alternatives, a SHP initiative, seeks humane diagnostic alternatives for people seeking mental health services.

By Jonathan D. Raskin and Frank Farley, PhD

On Aug. 5 and 6, 2014, a group of roughly 20 persons met in Washington, D.C., for the first Global Summit on Diagnostic Alternatives (GSDA). The summit was organized by the Diagnostic Summit Committee, a Div. 32 committee. The meeting consisted mostly of psychologists, but social work, counseling and marriage and family therapy perspectives were also represented. The topic at hand was whether or not to push ahead with developing alternatives to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM ) that could supplement or—in some settings—replace it as a way to understand human distress.

The summit was a wide-ranging, two-day conversation about diagnosis and its alternatives. The upshot was that the group decided to forge ahead in its pursuit of diagnostic alternatives. Among the things accomplished at the summit:

  • A clear and to-the-point mission statement was approved: "To develop, evaluate, advocate, and disseminate alternatives to current diagnostic systems."
  • Organizationally, the British Psychological Society's Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) became an official co-sponsor in the diagnostic alternatives effort. The Global Summit for Diagnostic Alternatives is now officially a joint project of Div. 32 and DCP. The four co-chairs are Frank Farley and Jonathan Raskin (from Div. 32) and Peter Kinderman and Lucy Johnstone (from DCP). The full membership list of the GSDA committee is available on the committee's website.
  • Several working groups were formed to continue the committee's work.

These committees are as follows:


Charge: To generate a set of scientific and ethical standards/guidelines for the development of diagnostic and descriptive nomenclatures for mental distress; the standards are intended to represent "best practice" in classification and description, and in this way, will be applicable to both the current/mainstream diagnostic models and to any present or future alternative.

Members: Lisa Cosgrove, Barry Duncan, Sarah Kamens (chair), Eleanor Longden, Sarah Schulz


Charge: Networking and promotion; outreach to public; outreach to media, publications, and community.

Members: Tim Carey, Frank Farley, Harris Friedman, Louis Hoffman, Lois Holzman (co-chair), Peter Kinderman, Donna Rockwell (co-chair), and Shawn Rubin, Sarah Schulz

Identifying Alternatives

Charge: To examine dimensions/axes of relevance in any viable alternative; to develop descriptive ways of identifying problems or concerns; and to propose other possibilities for diagnostic alternatives.

Members: Frank Farley, Lucy Johnstone, V. Krishna Kumar, Eric Maisel, Jonathan Raskin, Brent Dean Robbins, Jeffrey Rubin (chair), Kirk Schneider

Summit II Planning 

Charge: To develop plans and seek funding for the next summit, to be held in Spring/Summer 2015

Members: Brent Dean Robbins, Sarah Kamens, Shawn Rubin, Peter Kinderman, Richard Pemberton (chair)

The committee looks forward to sharing further information as its work progresses. If you have any questions or feedback for the committee, contact Jonathan Raskin or Frank Farley for further information.