Engage Aotearoa

Tag Archives: Miriam Larsen-barr

New study highlights stories of successful withdrawal

My latest paper has just been published in the open access journal, Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, as part of their special collection on discontinuing psychotropic medication.

You can read the full text free here: Service-user efforts to maintain their wellbeing during and after successful withdrawal from antipsychotic medication (Larsen-Barr and Seymour, 2021).

Abstract

Background: It is well-known that attempting antipsychotic withdrawal can be a fraught process, with a high risk of relapse that often leads people to resume the medication. Nonetheless, there is a group of people who appear to be able to discontinue successfully. Relatively little is known about how people do this.

Methods: A convenience sample of adults who had stopped taking antipsychotic medication for more than a year were recruited to participate in semi-structured interviews through an anonymous online survey that investigated antipsychotic medication experiences in New Zealand. Thematic analysis explored participant descriptions of their efforts to maintain their wellbeing during and after the withdrawal process.

Results: Of the seven women who volunteered to participate, six reported bipolar disorder diagnoses and one reported diagnoses of obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. The women reported successfully discontinuing antipsychotics for 1.25–25 years; six followed a gradual withdrawal method and had support to prepare for and manage this. Participants defined wellbeing in terms of their ability to manage the impact of any difficulties faced rather than their ability to prevent them entirely, and saw this as something that evolved over time. They described managing the process and maintaining their wellbeing afterwards by ‘understanding myself and my needs’, ‘finding what works for me’ and ‘connecting with support’. Sub-themes expand on the way in which they did this. For example, ‘finding what works for me’ included using a tool-box of strategies to flexibly meet their needs, practicing acceptance, drawing on persistence and curiosity and creating positive life experiences.

Conclusion: This is a small, qualitative study and results should be interpreted with caution. This sample shows it is possible for people who experience mania and psychosis to successfully discontinue antipsychotics and safely manage the impact of any symptoms that emerge as a result of the withdrawal process or other life stressors that arise afterwards. Findings suggest internal resources and systemic factors play a role in the outcomes observed among people who attempt to stop taking antipsychotics and a preoccupation with avoiding relapse may be counterproductive to these efforts. Professionals can play a valuable role in facilitating change.

Referrals open for Mondays in Henderson

I am all set to move into full-time private practice and will be available to see people for private therapy at WEST Community Hub in Henderson on Mondays from March, with a view to shift to Tuesdays when office space becomes available.

I will continue to see people online and from Changing Minds in Mount Eden, but will move to Wednesdays and Thursdays so Fridays can become a day for groups. I have found a most excellent peer support worker with a background in poetry and performance like me, and we are getting ready to co-design and run some groups together later this year. More info soon.

I am now accepting referrals for my first four time-slots at my new Henderson office on Monday March 1st and March 8th. Find out more about my availability and making a referral here.

I have truly loved my first six months of part-time private practice at Changing Minds. There is something different about working from a service-user led space with such a long history of systemic advocacy in New Zealand. As someone who once participated in Changing Minds’ monthly Consumer Forums, and later served as a trustee on the board, for me it feels rather a lot like coming home each time I walk through the door. I like the way we have a lounge room instead of a waiting room, and the way the walls are covered in framed stories of recovery from real people who have been there before.

Back in my days as a full-time activist, when I was working with Taimi Allan on the Like Minds Like Mine team at Mind and Body Consultants, we often used to weave fantasies about a fictional ‘service-user led clinical service’ and when I left that job for my clinical training, we promised ourselves ‘one day…’ Our little partnership at Changing Minds feels rather a lot like the first step in our own tiny little revolution in that way.

I have searched long and hard for a similar service-user led space to partner with in West Auckland, but it turns out there is nowhere else quite like Changing Minds. I was very excited to discover the peer-led space Te Ata in Henderson (if you haven’t been yet, do go check it out, it’s pretty awesome). Unfortunately, they didn’t yet have a room that was suitable for therapy and it was a bit far from public transport options. So I have opted to use the therapy rooms at WEST Community Hub for the time-being. It’s not a service-user led space or quite as homey, even though it’s also in a repurposed house. But it is a community-led space, so it’s similar enough to my kaupapa to fit. Plus it is super close to bus-stops, the train station and lots of parking – and just down the road from Te Ata.

Here’s to the next chapter.

Take care out there everyone,

Miriam

Out of hiatus and open for private practice!

Engage Aotearoa is finally ready to come out of hibernation and you’ll notice a few changes have taken place over the past few months.

The big news is that after five years working full time as a psychologist within our DHB services, I have now freed myself up to add one day of private practice to the Engage Aotearoa web-resources. I have teamed up with the good folks at Changing Minds for a space to see people and am looking forward to working from a service-user led setting once again. You can find out more about my private psychology services here.

I’ve simplified things a fair bit and Engage Aotearoa has returned to its original form as a self-funded, non-profit initiative, now with a small private practice on the side to help sustain it. Over the last few years, Daniel has taught me everything I need to know to keep the website updated by myself and more than a decade after setting out on the Engage Aotearoa journey it’s an exciting step to be able move forward on my own two feet.

I am in progress with reviewing and updating all of the resources on the website. You will notice that the links to some resources have been disabled while I do this. A number of the info packs have already been reviewed and you can read them online here. The Butterfly Diaries Volume 1 has now been made available as a PDF e-book you can download and share around at will. And the Community Resources Directory has been moved onto its own series of webpages so you no longer have to download a long pdf document to read it – you can still download it to share around in the real world if you’d like though. Updating the directory after a five year hiatus is a pretty big task and a lot has changed in that time. If there is something you would like to suggest I add, do get in touch.

Please note, that I have updated my contact details.

Viva la revolution!

Miriam

Dr Miriam Larsen-Barr
DClinPsych, MNZCCPTLE



More results from The Experiences of Antipsychotic Medication Study

Read online at Science Direct
or request a copy of the full-text on Research Gate

Update to The Experiences of Antipsychotic Medication Survey

The Experiences of Antipsychotic Medication Survey is now open to all NZ adults over 18 who are living in the community, including people with Compulsory Treatment Orders.
Find out more at http://www.teamstudy.co.nz
Everything you need to take part is available on the website.

Please share this invitation to take part with your networks.

Contact:
Miriam Larsen-Barr
Ph: 09 373 7599 ext 86890
Email: mbar114@aucklanduni.ac.nz

TEAMS

Survey Open: NZ Study Explores Experiences of Antipsychotic Medication

The Experiences of Antipsychotic Medication Survey is now open for responses from NZ adults over 18 who take or have taken antipsychotic medication.

Find out more at www.teamstudy.co.nz

A full Participant Information Sheet is available on the website.

Please share this invitation to take part with your networks.

TEAMS

Contact

Miriam Larsen-Barr
Ph: 09 373 7599 ext 86890
Email: mbar114@aucklanduni.ac.nz

.

Press Release: Details Confirmed for Mike King’s Community Korero and Kaitaia College Seminars

Press Release: Engage Aotearoa & Key to Life Charitable Trust

For Immediate Release | 20 Feb 2013

Mike King Visits Kaitaia to Throw Solutions at Suicide 

Popular comedian and radio talk-show host Mike King will visit Kaitaia on the 5th and 6th of March for a series of seminars to reduce suicide in the Far North. On the evening of the 5th, King will lead a Community Korero at Te Ahu, accompanied by musician Ruia Aperahama (What’s the Time Mr Wolf, Southside of Bombay, Songs from the Inside). The following day, King and Aperahama will present two seminars for junior and senior students at Kaitaia College, called It’s Cool to Korero.

In It’s Cool to Korero, King will talk with Kaitaia College students about how he survived growing up. Mike’s is the story of a kid who wanted to fit in. It is about wanting to be part of the cool group but being 4’11 with buck teeth and big ears and needing a miracle to make it happen. Then one day he discovered he had a gift to make people laugh and he went from being bullied, to being liked and then many years later becoming a bully himself. Mike will share tips on how to deal with bullies and also why bullies do what they do. Most of all, he will speak about why it is important to talk rather than “have conversations with yourself.”  King says his main point is that “in life there will always be hurdles and heartbreak, but with perseverance, support and an attitude of hope, great things will happen.”

Mike King’s Community Korero will take place at Te Ahu from 6 – 8 pm on Tuesday the 5th of March. Entry is free and all are welcome. At the Community Korero, King will speak about his battle with depression, addiction and his ongoing journey back to recovery, including the mistakes he made along the way and the things that made a difference. He will discuss the things he learnt from the hard times and how all those mistakes were blessings in disguise. Both talks will be followed by an opportunity to ask questions and share strategies. This is a not-to-be-missed chance for the community to come together and explore how to support our rangatahi and each other to survive and thrive. Stacks of useful free resources will be available for community members to take away for later use. King says, “It is time to stop throwing negatives at the problem of suicide and time to start throwing positives at a solution!”

This initiative was organised by ex-Kaitaia College student, Miriam Larsen-Barr, who operates a mental-health promotion project called Engage Aotearoa and is currently completing a doctorate in clinical psychology in Auckland. Visiting home for the summer, Larsen-Barr was struck by how many sad stories and suicides had happened in the community in the past year.  Larsen-Barr says “I do all this work in other places to promote helpful ways of thinking about mental-health problems and make it easier to approach recovery. It seemed wrong to come home to holiday and not share those resources with the town that grew me.

Mike King is best known for his role as a comedian and host of the Radio Live talk-show The Nutters Club. But King is also involved in The Key to Life Charitable Trust, an organisation that aims to achieve a zero suicide-rate in New Zealand.  King and Larsen-Barr met through their shared passion for preventing suicide (both have been working on projects to tell people’s recovery stories) and when King received the call to make a difference in Kaitaia, he leapt at the chance. King and Aperahama are both donating their time to the cause, The Mental-Health Foundation of NZ is providing additional take-home resources and local organisations Te Runanga o Te Rarawa and The Beachcomber Restaurant have sponsored the initiative to ensure it goes ahead.

More information can be found on Engage Aotearoa’s Mental-Health News and Events Blog at http://www.engagenz.co.nz/?p=3989

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