Innovative ‘Open Space’ conference to investigate how the Power Threat Meaning Framework can relate to the spiritual emergence process

PTMF event

Have you had, or been a support to someone who is having / has had, a challenging transformative experience which you see as a natural, albeit painful, process of growth towards a fuller, deeper expression of an authentic self and meaningful life? Or do you have a general interest in this area?

Do you have ideas on how these experiences could be better supported in the mental health system?

Come and take part in an inclusive, non-hierarchical ‘Open Space’ (explanation of this process below) innovative event – have your voice heard. Every Attendee will have the opportunity to speak.


#EmergingProud sees the ‘spiritual’ element of the equally important BIO-PSYCHO-SOCIAL-SPIRITUAL aspects of what it means to be wholly human as understanding a crisis as a journey of growth, emergence and transformation, not necessarily as a ‘recovery’ journey, as we never return to the same person we were before the crisis…

We perceive what is sometimes termed as ‘mental illness’ as a natural and necessary process of releasing the pain of trauma, so that our true selves can emerge.

What is needed to provide a ‘safe container’ for this process to occur?

I have invited Dr Lucy Johnstone and and Professor Mary Boyle to join us as we discuss these issues in relation to the document; The Power Threat Meaning Framework, published by The British Psychological Society in January 2018, for which they are lead authors. This document is an ambitious attempt to outline an alternative to the diagnostic model of emotional and psychological distress. Co-produced by a team of professionals and survivors, it explores the role of power and threat in people’s lives, and the way we make meaning out of difficult experiences. The Framework can be used as a way of helping all of us, whether in contact with the mental health system or not, to create more hopeful narratives or stories about our lives and struggles, instead of seeing ourselves as blameworthy, weak, deficient or ‘mentally ill’.

I wanted to create a ‘Safe and dynamic Space‘ in which to have these discussions, and to look at how the PTMF can be applied to this process both practically, and perhaps also be more inclusive of this important perspective. We want to bring to the table discussions about the risks (power and threats) inherent in spirituality, how these can be better recognised, prevented and supported by the framework, and also how the awe-inspiring aspects (meaning) of the spiritual experience can be more welcomed and celebrated. 


For people who wish to find out more about the Power Threat Meaning Framework before the day, the summary document available PTM Summary Latest may be useful.

Other PTMF documents, videos and resources are freely available here:

The aim of our day together;

–       To consider the question; “How does the Power Threat Meaning Framework relate to those who perceive their experience in transcendent/ transformative, spiritual or spiritual emergency terms, and how could it be used to support this?” 

–       To trust in the collective wisdom of those who gather, and to let inspiration emerge naturally

–       To use the outcomes from the day to inform the possibility of expanding the Power Threat Meaning Framework, if this is deemed appropriate, and/ or to develop ideas for its practical application in this area. 



It is a self-organizing practice of inner discipline and collective activity which releases the inherent creativity and leadership in people. By inviting people to take responsibility for an issue they care about, Open Space establishes a marketplace of inquiry, reflection and learning, bringing out the best in both individuals and the whole gathering.


–       Where there is a high degree of diversity

–       Where all stakeholders are needed for good decisions to be made

–       Where you have no preconceived notion of what the outcomes should be


–       Builds energy, commitment and inclusivity

–       Participants accept responsibility for what does or doesn’t happen

–       Action plans and recommendations emerge from discussions as appropriate

–       You create a record of the entire proceedings as you go along which are shared with all Attendees after the event


The Law of Two Feet means you take responsibility for what you care about –  standing up for that and using your own two feet to move to whatever discussion group you can best contribute to and/or learn from. There is no pressure to act as a discussion Convenor (see below), or to speak at all, you are welcome to just listen if that feels more comfortable for you. You are also welcome to move between discussions if you are drawn to more than one.



Dr Lucy Johnstone will kick off the day with an overview of the Power Threat Meaning Framework, giving us a foundation for the rest of the day…

Together we will consider the question; “How does the Power Threat Meaning Framework relate to those who perceive their experience in transcendent/ transformative, spiritual or spiritual emergency terms, and how could it be used to support this?” 

  1. There will be an Agenda wall and areas where diverse conversations will take place will be lettered. You will have free choice to take part in any discussions throughout the day.
  2. Another wall will be labelled NEWS. This will display the Harvest outcome forms from the discussions
  3. The Facilitator explains the simple process the group will follow to organize and create a record, where to put things up and find out what is happening (point out lettered discussion spaces
  4. Opening the marketplace: the Facilitator invites *anyone who cares about a particular issue in relation to the day to step up and write the topic on the Agenda wall so people know where to find them for that discussion – they will be the *Convenor for that discussion throughout the day.  

*Please note; if you bring a topic for discussion on the day you will become a Convenor and be expected to write up a synopsis of your group interaction – this will be further explained on the day. 

  1. The Convenors have responsibility for facilitating their session(s) and seeing to it that a Harvest report is made during their discussion and shared on the News Wall at the end of the day.
  2. All Attendees participate in discussions. Attendees can move between discussions as they desire, but the Convenors stay with their topic of choice. There are no set breaks, the space is free until the gathering circle for organic outcomes to occur.
  3. At a set time towards the end of the day, the Facilitator will gather all of the Attendees in a circle and the Convenors will be invited to share a synopsis of what came of their discussions.
  4. All of the News and any agreed outcomes are typed up and circulated to all Attendees after the event as a follow- up.

Are you interested in offering a new perspective on why people experience mental distress and how it can be supported? Why not consider a discussion topic to bring (in relation to the question) and stand up to be a Convenor on the day? This can be instinctual, there are no expectations, pressures or pre-set ideas. The only guidelines are to come to the space with the intention to share from a compassionate heart-space and to be respectful towards each other.

  “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

  Cynthia Occelli

We very much look forward to seeing what emerges… ❤


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