Welcome to the Open Dialogue UK website. Open Dialogue UK was established in 2012 in order to support the development of the Open Dialogue approach from Western Lapland within the UK and internationally. Our focus is currently on running training programmes in order to support the development of Open Dialogue within public mental health services and other organisations. The trainings we have offered to date and are currently offering are as follows:
We co-ordinate the first full Open Dialogue training programme to be run outside of Finland, which is open to applications from mental health professionals, including independent practitioners and peer workers. The first of these three year programmes commenced in London in April 2015 and included teams from four NHS Trusts, as well as teams working in public services in several international countries. We started our second full training programme in May 2018, and hope to start our third programme soon. This training is led by senior Finnish trainers as well as other leading international practitioners/trainers.
In addition to the above, we run a one year foundation training that is open to applications from mental health professionals, including peer workers, and family members. We have run this training three times in London and three times online. This training is led by Nick Putman (Open Dialogue UK) and other leading international trainers.
We have also run foundation trainings on an in-house basis, both in the UK and internationally. We have run this training in-house for several different NHS trusts (for early intervention, crisis/home treatment and inpatient teams), and also in Australia, France, Belgium and Estonia. We are currently planning trainings that will take place in 2024. Firstly a foundation training in London, details of which can be found here, and also a new online foundation training, details of which can be found here. The deadline for applications to these programmes is 30 November 2023.
In the video below some of the participants in our Foundation Training reflect on the experience.
We regularly run seminars and workshops on the Open Dialogue approach in London and online, and are also able to travel around the UK and internationally to do so. These seminars are run in English, but can be adapted to include translators where necessary.
We organise conferences and other events in the UK to share information about Open Dialogue and related approaches, and to engage with mental health professionals working in a variety of ways with a variety of client groups. Our 2016 Conference attracted 600 people and was a very stimulating event.
We work to promote the development of the Open Dialogue approach through a variety of other means, producing written and digital material for professionals, carers, service users and others who are interested in learning more. We aim to have more resources available on this website soon.
What is the Open Dialogue approach?
The Open Dialogue approach is both a philosophical/theoretical approach to people experiencing a mental health crisis and their families/networks, and a system of care, developed in Western Lapland in Finland over the last 35 years. In the 1980s psychiatric services in Western Lapland were in a poor state, in fact they had one of the worst incidences of the diagnosis of schizophrenia’ in Europe. Now they have the best documented outcomes in the Western World. For example, around 75% of those experiencing psychosis have returned to work or study within 2 years and only around 20% are still taking antipsychotic medication at 2 year follow-up.
Remarkably, Open Dialogue is not an alternative to standard psychiatric services, it is the psychiatric service in Western Lapland. This has afforded a unique opportunity to develop a comprehensive approach with well-integrated inpatient and outpatient services. Working with families and social networks, as much as possible in their own homes, Open Dialogue teams work to help those involved in a crisis situation to be together and to engage in dialogue. It has been their experience that if the family/team can bear the extreme emotion in a crisis situation, and tolerate the uncertainty, in time shared meaning usually emerges and healing/recovery is possible. Open Dialogue has drawn on a number of theoretical models, including systemic family therapy, dialogical theory and social constructionism.