The coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all, and has left many feeling isolated, anxious and without the usual opportunities for engaging in social, occupational and therapeutic activities. For this reason, we wanted to create a group for people who are finding life difficult due to the current restrictions and who think they would benefit from the support of a weekly online group. The group will be co-facilitated by Nick Putman and Paul Ekwuruke who are trained in Open Dialogue and also have extensive experience of co-facilitating groups in other settings, such as therapeutic communities (see below for more information about the facilitators).
The meetings will take place via Zoom on Wednesdays between 10.30 and 12.00 BST (UK time), from 3 June onwards, and it is possible to book for one meeting at a time. Anyone wishing to attend is welcome to do so for free, but there are also options to support the running of the group financially, if participants would like and are able to do so. If, following a meeting, a participant would like to attend the next meeting, they will be able to sign up for this as well. Each meeting is open to new people (in other words it is not a closed group), with a limit of 8 people per meeting. Places for each meeting are offered on a first come, first served basis. People from outside the UK can join, but need to be fluent in English, in order to be able to participate fully.
The group meetings will be an open space for participants to talk about what they would like to talk about on the day. Whilst we imagine that participants will want to talk about the difficulties they are experiencing during the coronavirus pandemic, we also don’t want to direct what is talked about. As in Open Dialogue network meetings, after any necessary introductions (where any participants are new to the group), we will start each meeting with a question such as “how would you like to use the time today”? Anyone who would like to respond to this question will have the opportunity to do so if they would like to – if not, they are welcome to just listen and join in as and when they feel moved to do so. The group will essentially, week by week, decide the limits of what is manageable for all, in conjunction with the facilitators, and where necessary, ground rules can be drawn up, which will be used for the current meeting and any future meetings, and shared with any new members in advance of the next meeting. This will be a confidential space, and so anyone joining will need to agree to treat it so, i.e. to agree not to talk about the details/content of meetings outside of the meetings. Further details regarding confidentiality will be provided to participants in advance.
This group will run for as long as social/occupational restrictions are in place due to the current coronavirus pandemic and both facilitators are available to facilitate the group on a weekly basis. At present, we anticipate that it will run at least until the end of August 2020.
Once someone has signed up for a meeting, if they are joining for the first time, we will send them an email to request some basic contact details, including details of their GP. These details will be stored confidentially. As difficult issues may be discussed in the group, which could leave someone feeling vulnerable, it feels important to have these contact details.
It is possible for two people to join a waiting list for the next upcoming group if it is full, in case one or more people decide to cancel their booking for a particular meeting.
If you have any questions about these meetings, please feel free to contact us.
Nick Putman is a UKCP registered psychotherapist and a certified Open Dialogue practitioner and trainer/supervisor, having completed a two year training in the Open Dialogue approach with Mary Olson, Jaakko Seikkula, Markku Sutela and others and a three year trainers’ training programme run in London with senior Finnish trainers and other internationally recognised Open Dialogue trainers. He is the founder of Open Dialogue UK, which established the first full training in the Open Dialogue approach outside of Western Lapland. Nick has visited the Open Dialogue service in Western Lapland on a number of occasions to study the approach and the structure of the service. He has 25 years experience working in a variety of mental health settings, and considerable experience working with people experiencing psychosis and their families. Along with colleagues trained and training in Open Dialogue, Nick is working with families in London, both at the Open Dialogue UK premises and at home visits.
Paul Ekwuruke is a registered nurse with the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council and a member of the Royal College of Nursing. He is also a certified Open Dialogue practitioner, having completed the three year training in the Open Dialogue Approach run by Open Dialogue UK. He has achieved 25 years of experience in mental health nursing in various NHS settings with various client groups. He has experience of working with refugees and asylum seekers, those who are homeless and those who have mental health problems, work which has included case management, assertive outreach, home treatment, crisis resolution and mental health liaison. He worked at Henderson Hospital, which was run as a therapeutic community within the NHS, where his responsibilities included facilitating group meetings.
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