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Three interesting websites: DSM-5 development, group therapy, and 'get self-help'

Here are three websites that I have recently found interesting.  The first two are possibly more for therapists, while the third can be very helpful for therapists and general public alike.

The American Psychiatric Association's DSM-5 development site states "Publication of the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May 2013 will mark one the most anticipated events in the mental health field. As part of the development process, the preliminary draft revisions to the current diagnostic criteria for psychiatric diagnoses are now available for public review and comment. We thank you for your interest in DSM-5 and hope that you use this opportunity not only to learn more about the proposed changes in DSM-5, but also about its history, its impact, and its developers. Please continue to check this site for updates to criteria and for more information about the development process." 

Allen Frances, chair of the earlier DSM-IV task force, sounded a loud note of caution in a recent BMJ editorial writing "DSM-V has been in preparation for three years and is scheduled to appear in 2013. The work on DSM-V began with the unrealistic ambition of producing a paradigm shift in psychiatric diagnosis. The working groups preparing the various sections were encouraged to be innovative and to think "out of the box." The criteria for making changes and the requirements were specified only recently and are fairly fluid. The whole process has also been criticised for being secretive, closed to external influences, and disorganised. The experience with DSM-IV should offer a painful lesson and caution. Efforts were made to be conservative and rigorous. Nonetheless, DSM-IV was an unwitting contributor to three false positive "epidemics." Its publication coincided with high rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autistic disorder, and childhood bipolar disorders. Other factors contributed to these epidemics, particularly the ubiquitous marketing efforts of drug companies directed at doctors and the general public. The lesson is clear: once the diagnostic system is in general use, even small changes can be amplified and twisted, with harmful and unintended consequences. The proposals contained in the first draft of DSM-V could potentially set off at least eight new false positive epidemics of psychiatric disorder. In their efforts to innovate, the working groups could expand the territory of mental disorder and thin the ranks of the normal. Five proposed new diagnoses are defined by non-specific symptoms that are common in the general population-binge eating, mixed anxiety depression, minor neurocognitive problem risk of psychosis, and temper dysregulation. Three existing disorders would have a major lowering of their already overinclusive diagnostic thresholds: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. The changes suggested for DSM-V are well meaning. They are intended to promote the early identification and treatment of mental disorders and reduce resistance to treatment. The problem is that every increase in the sensitivity of a psychiatric diagnosis is accompanied by a concomitant drop in its specificity. False negatives can be reduced only at the cost of producing many more false positives. Because the suggested changes all occur at the boundary between mental disorder and normality, they could create vast numbers of misdiagnosed new "patients."  Interesting and controversial times!

The second site I want to mention is the American Group Psychotherapy Association.  They write "Our organization is an interdisciplinary community that has been enhancing practice, theory and research of group therapy since 1942. AGPA provides the support you are looking for to enhance your work as a mental healthcare professional or your life as a member of a therapeutic group."  The website contains a whole series of useful sections, from the Group works! Information about group psychotherapy introducing group work to the general public, through their section for the group therapist/student (which includes helpful Practice guidelines), description and link to their good quarterly publication International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, and a whole series of interesting Publications including numerous books and tapes.  Well worth knowing about if you're involved with, or would like to learn more about, group psychotherapy.

The last site in this short list is more obviously relevant for both therapists and the general public.  It is Carol Vivyan's excellent Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Self-Help ResourcesShe provides a wealth of resources, writing "Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has been proven to help mental health problems.  This website offers CBT self-help information, resources and tools, including therapy worksheets."  There are over forty clickable sections from Anxiety, Depression, and Anger, to Bulimia, Sleep and Self-Esteem.  There are even some more surprisingly named sections like Rucksacks, Poisoned Parrot, and Super-Scanner.  There are lots of downloadable Therapy Worksheets and a whole series of buyable Relaxation exercises.  All in all, an impressive and helpful site.

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