Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

A Webinar Series

Robert Whitaker Introduces the Series

Note: All of our early bird discount and scholarship slots are now full. You can now register for the course at the regular price of $100.


This series of seven webinars will feature presentations by people with “expertise by lived experience,” psychiatrists, and other professionals. The educational purpose of the series is to present information and insights that arise:

  • from users’ experiences and their efforts to support others who want to taper from their psychiatric medications; research on drug withdrawal
  • the clinical experience of psychiatrists and other professionals who have supported patients tapering from psychiatric medications
  • research on drug tapering programs and efforts

This course is not designed to provide advice to individuals who are seeking to taper from their medications. It is, instead, designed to explore the risks and rewards of doing so, and methods for doing so successfully. It is also designed to identify the many shortcomings in our medical and societal knowledge about withdrawing from psychiatric drugs.

See times below for each of the live webinars

Who should view this series

This course is designed to educate mental health professionals (psychologists, social workers, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, nurses, psychiatrists, peer service and support workers, school counselors, and family physicians) as well as other health providers, people with lived experience of mental health challenges, family members, and the general public.

The November 14 webinar, Antipsychotic Withdrawal/Reduction in a Public Mental Health Setting has also been approved for 1.0 CE for psychologists, social workers, nurses, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists (visit this page to verify your eligibility).

The December 12 webinar, Medication Reduction and Wellness, has now been approved for 1.0 CE for psychologists, social workers, nurses, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists (visit this page to verify your eligibility).

The January 16 webinar, A Review of the Research Literature on Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, has now been approved for 1.0 CE for psychologists, social workers, nurses, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists (visit this page to verify your eligibility).

The February 20 webinar, The Evidence Base for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Risks of Withdrawal Syndromes, has now been approved for 1.0 CE for psychologists, social workers, nurses, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists (visit this page to verify your eligibility).

The March 20 webinar, A Harm Reduction Approach to Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, has been approved for 1.0 hour of continuing education credit for psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists and nurses by Commonwealth Educational Seminars.

The March 20 webinar, A Harm Reduction Approach to Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, has been approved for 1.0 hour of continuing education credit for psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists and nurses by Commonwealth Educational Seminars.

The April 17 webinar, Developing a Drug Withdrawal Agenda for the Future, has been approved for 1.0 hour of continuing education credit for psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists and nurses by Commonwealth Educational Seminars.

Social Workers: Please note that CEs as approved for social workers are allowable only for those participating in the live webinars, not for taking the webinar after the live event.

Psychologists: Commonwealth Educational Seminars is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Commonwealth Educational Seminars maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Psychologists will receive 5 hours of continuing education credit upon completing this program.

All of the webinars in this series will be posted 24-48 hours after the "live" event so that they can be accessed at any convenient time up to at least a year later. We recognize that many of you have schedules that are not easily re-arranged to participate in the webinars on the dates/times announced.


October 24, 2017: Experts by experience

5:30 pm Eastern 4:30 pm Central 3:30 pm Mountain 2:30 Pacific

Emily Cutler will moderate and participate in a panel of individuals who have successfully withdrawn from psychiatric medications. They will tell of their experiences doing so, and also describe their ongoing efforts to provide support to others seeking to taper from the drugs. Panel members in addition to Emily Cutler are Jocelyn Pedersen, and Dina Tyler. Below, hear Jocelyn Pedersen speak about the course:

November 14, 2017: Antipsychotic withdrawal/reduction in a public mental health setting

2:30 pm Eastern 1:30 pm Central 12:30 pm Mountain 11:30 am Pacific

Psychiatrist Sandy Steingard presents on research that provides an evidence-based rationale for supporting patients to taper from antipsychotics. She will discuss some of the challenges psychiatrists face when they are open to tapering and discuss her 5-years of experience of using a collaborative decision model that supports public mental health clients in deciding whether to reduce their dose of neuroleptic drugs. Below, listen to Sandy Steingard talk about her presentation:

December 12, 2017: Medication reduction and wellness

2:30 pm Eastern 1:30 pm Central 12:30 pm Mountain 11:30 am Pacific

Psychiatrist Kelly Brogan presents on her clinical experience working with patients withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, especially antidepressants. She addresses the physiological reasons for some who experience depression, lab tests that can help guide the withdrawal process and provides tips for making withdrawal more successful. These include environmental, nutritional and several web-based sites for support. She bases her information on research and her clinical experience helping patients withdraw.

January 16, 2018: A review of the research literature on psychiatric drug withdrawal

2:30 pm Eastern 1:30 pm Central 12:30 pm Mountain 11:30 am Pacific

Robert Whitaker, journalist and founder of Mad in America, will present both on what has been studied, and identify “research that needs to be done.” Robert Whitaker has written in-depth on the efficacy of psychiatric drugs and is a co-founder of the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal.

February 20, 2018: The evidence base for psychiatric drug withdrawal and risks of withdrawal syndromes

1 pm Eastern 12 Noon Central 11 am Mountain 10 am Pacific

Psychiatrist Peter Breggin will present on the hazards of long-term use of psychiatric drugs, which provides a compelling “evidence base” for psychiatric drug tapering protocols; drug-withdrawal syndromes that patients experience when tapering from psychiatric drugs; the biological explanations for such syndromes; and for patient-centered and controlled approaches to successful drug tapering and withdrawal.

March 20, 2018: A harm-reduction approach to psychiatric drug withdrawal

1 pm Eastern 12 Noon Central 11 am Mountain 10 am Pacific

Therapist Will Hall, PhD candidate and author of the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs (translated into 15 languages and used world-wide), discusses how he works with individuals, families, and clinicians using a person-centered and flexible approach to drug withdrawal as a life change and learning process, including drug response diversity, crisis risk, and alternative responses to experiences seen as psychotic.

April 17, 2018: Developing a drug-withdrawal agenda for the future

1 pm Eastern 12 Noon Central 11 am Mountain 10 am Pacific

A panel of people with lived experience review this first MIA withdrawal course, its strengths and shortcomings, and discuss an agenda for developing drug-tapering knowledge and support programs. What do we, as a society, know about this subject, and what do we need to learn?


The cost for the seven-seminar course is $100. Enrollment is limited, so sign up now.

International payments are automatically converted to U.S. dollars.

Your Instructors

October 24th, 2017

Jocelyn Pedersen graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brigham Young University with a BS in education and a minor in music. She spent two years teaching before she decided to start a family and become a full time mother of two children and part time performer. Prescribed Ambien for insomnia, Jocelyn developed a benzodiazepine associated illness, was misdiagnosed, and treated for 3 years with antidepressants and a benzodiazepine.

After becoming educated about this iatrogenic illness, Jocelyn worked to educate and assist others in safely tapering and recovering from benzodiazepines and their associated disability. She has used her YouTube platform, Benzo Brains, to create educational/support content for benzo victims and their loved ones. Jocelyn was invited to participate in a panel at the 2017 International Benzodiazepine Symposium in Bend, Oregon. She is currently an author at Mad in America and The Mormon Women Project.

Dina Tyler is a psychiatric survivor, trainer, advocate and peer supporter. She holds the values of the consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement close to her heart that people should have a choice in their treatment, that social inclusion and empowerment of people with lived experience should be a primary focus of improving services, and that recovery-oriented, whole health and integrative approaches should be part of the public mental health system. Dina currently works with people and families seeking an alternative to conventional mental health treatment, supporting those who choose to discontinue taking psychiatric drugs, through offering peer support, sharing personal experience of withdrawal, and working directly with individuals, providers and support networks to create environments conducive to successful withdrawal in the community.

Dina is the Director of the Bay Area Mandala Project, a group bringing together alternative healing communities to support the transformational and spiritual aspects of extreme states of consciousness. She has seven years experience in community mental health working in early psychosis and bipolar intervention programs around the Bay Area, where she trained and supervised peers and family supporters, trained clinical staff on recovery-based language and approaches, and brought compassionate alternative approaches through direct peer support and mentorship. She is a co-founder, facilitator and Board Member of the Bay Area Hearing Voices Network. Dina was awarded the prestigious Peer Specialist of the Year by the National Council for Behavioral Health in 2015 for her work with young adults recently diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

Moderator: Emily Sheera Cutler, is a Mad woman and psychiatric survivor who is passionate about fighting for cognitive liberty - the right to experience any and every thought, feeling, belief, state, and expression of such as long as it does not harm another person - and combating paternalism. She received her Bachelor's in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania, where she completed an honors thesis on sizeism and ways to promote fat acceptance in schools. After her involuntary psychiatric hospitalization at age 20, Emily became particularly interested in fighting for the civil liberties of people labeled mentally ill and became involved with the psychiatric survivors movement.

Emily is currently the Assistant Editor and Community Moderator for Mad in America. In addition to her role at Mad in America, she is a private consultant and has helped plan the consumer/survivor/ex-patient led Alternatives Conference and assisted with Emotional CPR, a non-coercive, non-pathologizing approach to emotional distress and crisis. Emily is also the founder of the grassroots group Southern California Against Forced Treatment, which works to educate the public about the issue of psychiatric confinement and forced treatment as well as provide a force-free, coercion-free space for people to express themselves authentically.

November 14th, 2017

Sandra Steingard, M.D. is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine and Chief Medical Officer at Howard Center, a community mental health center in Burlington, Vermont where she has worked for the past 22 years. For over 25 years her clinical practice has primarily included patients with schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses. She was named to Best Doctors in America in 2003. She currently writes a blog called “Anatomy of a Psychiatrist” a www.madinamerica.com. She has served on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care since 2012 and has served as chair since 2016.

In recent years, her main areas of interest have been in using antipsychotic drugs in a more selective ways and integrating Open Dialogue practices into her clinic. Along with colleagues, she has developed a Vermont-based need-adapted program called Collaborative Network Approach. Dr. Steingard has presented a previous course for Mad In America Continuing Education, “Antipsychotics: Short and Long-term Effects.” She has lectured around the world on these topics. She chaired a workshop and symposium at American Psychiatric Association meetings on the optimal use of antipsychotic drugs. She has tracked a series of individuals who have been tapering their doses of antipsychotic drugs and will present this data in this lecture.

December 12th, 2017

Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the NY Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own, and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms.

She is on the board of GreenMedInfo, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Functional Medicine University, Pathways to Family Wellness, NYS Perinatal Association, Mindd Foundation, the peer-reviewed, indexed journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, and the Nicholas Gonzalez Foundation. She is Medical Director for Fearless Parent and a founding member of Health Freedom Action. She is a certified KRI Kundalini Yoga teacher and a mother of two.

January 16th, 2018

Robert Whitaker is an American journalist and author who has won numerous awards as a journalist covering medicine and science, including the George Polk Award for Medical Writing and a National Association for Science Writers’ Award for best magazine article. In 1998, he co-wrote a series on psychiatric research for the Boston Globe that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. His first book, Mad in America, was named by Discover magazine as one of the best science books of 2002. Anatomy of an Epidemic won the 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism. He is the publisher of madinamerica.com.

February 20th, 2018

Peter Breggin, M.D. is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and former Consultant at NIMH who has been called “The Conscience of Psychiatry” for his many decades of successful efforts to reform the mental health field. His work provides the foundation for modern criticism of psychiatric diagnoses and drugs, and leads the way in promoting more caring and effective therapies. His research and educational projects have brought about major changes in the FDA-approved Full Prescribing Information or labels for dozens of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs. He continues to educate the public and professions about the tragic psychiatric drugging of America’s children. Dr. Breggin has taught at many universities and has a private practice of psychiatry in Ithaca, New York.

Dr. Breggin has authored dozens of scientific articles and more than twenty books, including medical books and the bestsellers Toxic Psychiatry and Talking Back to Prozac. Two more recent books are Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime and Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and their Families. His most recent book is Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions. As a medical-legal expert, Dr. Breggin has unprecedented and unique knowledge about how the pharmaceutical industry too often commits fraud in researching and marketing psychiatric drugs. He has testified many times in malpractice, product liability and criminal cases, often in relation to adverse drug effects and more occasionally electroshock and psychosurgery.

March 20th, 2018

Will Hall, MS is a counselor and facilitator working with individuals, couples, families and groups. He has taught and consulted on mental health, trauma, psychosis, medications, domestic violence, conflict resolution, and organizational development. He is a schizophrenia diagnosis survivor and has worked for more than 15 years in community development in the recovery and psychiatric survivor movement. He is the author of The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Medications and many other publications.

He has consulted and presented for more than 50 organizations in over 13 countries.

He holds a Diploma and Masters Degree in Process Work from the Process Work Institute, and is a PhD candidate at Maastricht University Medical Center and has studied with Jaako Seikkula in Open Dialogue at the Institute for Dialogic Practice.

Class Curriculum

  November 14, 2017: Antipsychotic Withdrawal/Reduction in a Public Mental Health Setting
Available in days
days after you enroll
  January 16, 2018: A Review of the Research Literature on Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal
Available in days
days after you enroll
  February 20, 2018: The Evidence Base for Drug Withdrawal and Risks of Withdrawal Syndrome
Available in days
days after you enroll
  March 20, 2018: A Harm-Reduction Approach to Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal
Available in days
days after you enroll
  April 17, 2018: Developing a Drug-Withdrawal Agenda for the Future
Available in days
days after you enroll

Learning objectives

Panel on Withdrawal

  • To provide an overview of the psychiatric medications commonly prescribed for common psychiatric diagnoses
  • To share observations on the process and timing of withdrawal from psychiatric medications
  • To provide information on the resources available for supporting safe withdrawal from psychiatric medications
  • To share lessons learned in supporting others in their choices to taper and withdraw from psychiatric medications
  • To describe the concept of “harm reduction” in withdrawing from psychiatric medications

Antipsychotic withdrawal/reduction in a public mental health setting with Sandy Steingard, M.D.

PART 1: Overview of the problem and framework for resolution

  • To outline the 2 core principles of clinical care--informed consent and standard of care
  • To define Accepted Community Practice (ACP) for antipsychotic drugs and schizophrenia:
  • To describe major challenges to accepted practice based on data and clinical experience
  • To provide a description of a different model of tolerating psychosis for longer, working to establish a minimally effective dose and consider stopping drugs when a person is stable
  • To review studies on the association between duration of untreated psychosis and short- and long-term outcome in schizophrenia
  • To review relapse studies: Leucht et al, Cochrane Database 2012
  • To review well-constructed studies on risks of drug exposure and functional outcome
  • To review studies on using optimal dosing
  • To describe supersensitivity psychosis--how antipsychotic drugs can increase risk for psychosis and clinical implications
  • To outline "shared decision making" and "dialogic practice" as a way forward

PART 2: Applying principles in practice

  • To describe the drug tapering protocol used in Dr. Steingard's clinic
  • To review the 5 years of outcome data from this clinical experience using the drug tapering protocol including work status per drug use status and antipsychotic drug discontinuation data
  • To describe the clinical conclusions from this research
  • To define cognitive bias and tapering from antipsychotic drugs
  • To provide 3 client vignettes

Get started now!