Image courtesy Michal Marcol / freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While DxSummit continues to offer opportunities for critique of traditional DSM-style diagnosis, its main goal has been to provide a place for the discussion of diagnostic alternatives. To wit, many posts have attempted to sketch out, in basic form, what diagnosis in the helping professions might look like in the future. Some of the alternatives presented have been offered as supplements to the DSM-5. Others have been put forward as replacements.

With the arrival of the DSM-5, keeping momentum going has sometimes proved challenging. Much of the energy over the past several years has been generated in opposition to the impending DSM-5. Now that the DSM-5 is out, many clinicians have simply resigned themselves to it. However, it is our firm belief at DxSummit that interest in alternatives—even supplementary alternatives that allow clinicians to keep using the DSM-5 as needed—remains strong.

Of course, devising alternatives is a larger and more daunting task than simply critiquing the existing DSM. It is difficult because it involves creating something new and this requires people with divergent ideas to work together to common purpose. We are likely more united in what we don’t like about the DSM-5 than in what kinds of alternatives to it we most prefer. At the risk of making a grandiose analogy, this is not that different than the situation faced by the American revolutionaries of 1776. The founding generation was more readily united when working together to resist British rule than they were once the British were vanquished and they were faced with the unimaginable challenge of creating a new government from scratch. However, they persevered and ultimately succeeded. Admittedly, our goals are far less grand in scope. Accordingly, devising viable diagnostic alternatives may not be as impossible as it sometimes seems.

So far DxSummit has been an online enterprise. The power of the Internet to provide a shared virtual space for discussion notwithstanding, there are limits to what can be accomplished online. If DxSummit is serious in its mission—that is, if it wants to succeed in seeing viable alternatives to the DSM developed and utilized—then it will likely need to bring interested parties together in person to fully realize its goals. Person-to-person conversation is essential, as there are many constituencies with widely disparate ideas about what they would like to see unfold. Only by sitting down together and discussing ideas in an open and collaborative manner can progress be expected. To that end, DxSummit is forging ahead and initiating plans for the first of what will likely be numerous in-person gatherings. These gatherings (or diagnostic congresses, if you excuse me belaboring my earlier analogy) will endeavor to transform ongoing conversations about diagnostic alternatives into concrete strategies for collectively moving ahead.

The first step: an initial get together of the relevant parties; a place to begin the conversation and develop initial plans. As these plans develop, we will be sure to post them here on the summit site. As always, we welcome your constructive input.

Jonathan D. Raskin

About Jonathan D. Raskin

Dr. Raskin is co-chair of the Society for Humanistic Psychology’s Diagnostic Summit Committee. His scholarship focuses on constructivist psychology and psychotherapy, with special emphasis on how people construct conceptions of abnormality. He is currently managing editor of the Journal of Constructivist Psychology. Dr. Raskin is also a licensed psychologist and a Nationally Certified Counselor.