How to Complain: The Empathic Therapy Conference

Of her bout with CPEP, Ms R says, “This ordeal not only left my child traumatized, but me as well that I am now seeking a psychologist for her and myself.”

When seeking a therapist after you have suffered psychiatric maltreatment, ask the potential therapist if s/he will help you file a complaint.  If the answer is “no” then walk away.  One of the biggest problems with the psychiatric system is that people working in the system will not clean their own house.  There are perfectly good therapists who know very well that they are seeing patients who have been mistreated yet, for various reasons, they are not addressing the problem.

The problem of therapists not taking an activist stance will be addressed at the Empathic Therapy Conference 2012 (

Richard Gottlieb, MSW, and I will be doing a workshop on “Treating the Psychiatrically Maltreated”:

Description: Mr. Gottlieb will present his background as an empathic therapist; Ms Woodlen will present examples of maltreatment from her history as a “psychiatric patient.” They then will lead the participants through the steps of identifying people who have been maltreated, and engaging therapeutically with them. Information will be provided about various agencies and offices that respond to complaints about maltreatment.

As a thematic structure of this workshop, Ms Woodlen will take the part of patient; Mr. Gottlieb will act as clinical supervisor, and the participants will engage as therapists.


1. Participants will learn the varied nature and effects of maltreatment.

2. Participants will increase their knowledge and skills in diagnosis and treatment of the maltreated, and ways to challenge the agents of maltreatment.


Brand, Millen. Savage Sleep. New York: Crown Publishers, 1968.

Dorman, Daniel, M.D. Dante’s Cure: A Journey Out of Madness. New York: Other Press, 2003.

Karon, Bertram, and Gary Vandenbos. Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1981.

Woodlen, Anne C. Behind the Locked Doors of Inpatient Psychiatry (blog), .


Richard F. Gottlieb: My work as a psychotherapist spans more than 40 years in private and public practice. In that time I have had thousands of teachers, all of whom were my patients. I have also worked with many clinicians, the best of whom share a commitment to unwavering focus on their patients. The two most influential were Dr. George P. Inge, III, at the very beginning of my career, and Dr. Bertram Karon, over many years and to this day. Both taught me how to learn, how to listen, and how to respect and get out of the way of a mind seeking health.

Anne C Woodlen: My experience as a psychiatric patient spanned more than 45 years. In that time I took “every antidepressant known to man,” had ECT, and was inpatient in community, Catholic, teaching, state and private hospitals. I am one of the research subjects upon whom NIMH made the false claim that depression is a “chemical imbalance.” In 2001, I stopped taking antidepressants, attempting suicide and being hospitalized. I learned that depression is triggered by the perception of powerlessness and began to recover by acting powerfully to address the problems in my life. I now live with drug damage but have recovered from depression. I am a teacher, speaker and activist against the abuses of the psychiatric system.

Between us, Dick and I have about ninety years of experience with the psychiatric system, which we do not hold in esteem.  We’re working to fix it, and maybe we should write a book together.  I will produce a minor work of literary significance for the conference (LOL).


About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in Community General Hospital, CPEP, doctor, drugs, Hutchings Psychiatric Center, Inpatient psychiatry, Mental Patients Liberation Alliance, NYS Office of Mental Health, patient, physician, psychiatric patient, psychiatrist, psychiatry, St. Joseph's Hospital, Upstate Medical Center and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to How to Complain: The Empathic Therapy Conference

  1. libramoon says:

    May I post this to the Radical Psychology Yahoo group?

  2. Pingback: “The Empathic Therapy Conference 2012″ « Cathi Carol

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