Full 3 Year Training Programme

Open Dialogue Full 3 Year Training Programme

Commencing in September 2017
London, UK
for mental health teams, independent practitioners and peers
Organised by


We are delighted to announce this full Open Dialogue training programme, which is being based closely on the full Open Dialogue training programme in Western Lapland. The programme has been developed with and will be led by senior members of the Open Dialogue team from Western Lapland, Jaakko Seikkula and other trainers who are leading the development of the Open Dialogue approach internationally – please see below for details of the training faculty. Some of these very experienced trainers are coming towards the end of their career or have already retired, so this is a unique opportunity to be with and learn from them.

This three year training programme is at the heart of the Open Dialogue service in Western Lapland. Around 90% of the staff in the service have undertaken the training, and it is considered to be the most significant factor in the success that has been achieved in the service (for more information on the outcomes achieved please see our home page). The training programme has been developed over the past 25 years, based on their experience of what has proved most effective in their work.

The training will also embrace principles and practices from related approaches to people experiencing mental health problems, such as mindfulness, other dialogical approaches and practices which help to develop one’s capacity to be with people in states of extreme distress.

Places are limited to 27 practitioners in order to enhance the quality of the training experience and ensure that all those participating can engage fully in the processes.

To read testimonials on our training programmes, please click here.

Apply for Training

To apply for the training as a group please click here.

To apply for the training as an individual please click here.

Deadline for applications: 31 May 2017

 Dates for Year 1

27 September-1 October 2017

4-8 December 2017

21-25 February 2018

Training Fees

£3590 per person

or 4 installments of £975


Please telephone
+44 20 8133 3441
or contact us by clicking here

The training programme will consist of 20 training days per year over a period of three years, and will be divided into 4 blocks of 5 days per year, spread over the year. The training will be a mixture of theory/practice days, which will consist of short presentations, discussions about the literature on the reading list, and reflective conversations, experiential learning and roleplays, supervision days with live and videotaped sessions, family of origin seminars where trainees will explore their own family background, and required reading. The breakdown of the number of days for each of these components of the training is as follows:

  • Theory days: 26 days
  • Supervision days: 22 days
  • Family of origin days: 12 days

In addition to this there will be 3 days of work in peer groups per year, 5 days per year allocated for essay writing, and around 400 pages of reading per training block.  It is a requirement that trainees will have 300 hours of clinical experience of using the approach by the end of the training – clinical work will take place in the second and third years of the training. Details of the assessment process and additional resources that will be made available to trainees can be found on the right of this page.

Reading material will include articles and books on the Open Dialogue approach, as well as on approaches that have had a significant influence on the development of Open Dialogue (i.e. Gregory Bateson, Systemic Family Therapy, Network Therapy, Tom Anderson, Collaborative Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Social Constructionism, Bahktin and other dialogical approaches).

Details of who will be considered for the training can be found below. We are particularly interested to hear from NHS Trusts that would like to take part in a pilot project to evaluate the implementation of the Open Dialogue approach. This research will be undertaken in collaboration with Jaakko Seikkula.

Applications for the training will be considered in the following order of priority:

  • Mental health teams from one or two NHS Trusts interested in taking part in a pilot project
  • Other NHS mental health teams
  • Independent therapists/practitioners interested in working at a centre for dialogic practice in London. This includes people who identify as peers and who have made a significant contribution to the development of peer work and other progressive approaches to mental health
  • International teams working in public services
  • Other mental health professionals working in teams
Number of places of the training

In total 27 practitioner places are available on the training. These places are available to anyone working in the above capacity who has a minimum of two years experience working in a mental health setting.

There will be a members area for trainees on the Open Dialogue UK website, which will include a forum for shared learning and for communication between training blocks.

This members area will also include resources for learning such as reading lists, articles, videos, etc. Books relating to the training will be offered at discount prices.

Support for development within your organisation

Nick Putman is available on a part-time basis to support the development of the Open Dialogue approach in your organisation/service, including working with teams on a clinical basis. Nick is a certified Open Dialogue practitioner, having completed the Open Dialogue training programme with Mary Olson, Jaakko Seikkula, Markku Sutela et al. in the USA. In addition to this Nick has visited the Open Dialogue Service in Western Lapland on a number of occasions to study the approach and the structure of the psychiatric service there, and has been running seminars on the approach for the past two years. Nick has also spent time with the Parachute Project in New York City, which draws heavily on the Open Dialogue approach, studying their community-based services and training programme. For more information about Nick please see his biography below.

Training Team

Jaakko colourJaakko Seikkula is a Professor of Psychotherapy at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. From 1981 to 1998 he was Chief Psychologist at Keropudas hospital in Tornio, Finland, and was instrumental in the development of the Open Dialogue approach there. Over the last 30 years he has mostly been involved in developing new family and social network orientated practices for the most severe psychiatric problems, such as psychosis and severe depression. He has played a leading role in research into Open Dialogue and related approaches, and has published numerous papers on the outcome of these studies, which show the effectiveness of open dialogues and other dialogical practices. He is co-author of the books ‘Dialogical Meetings in Social Networks’ and ‘Open Dialogues and Anticipations’.

JormaJorma Ahonen is a Social Psychologist and Advanced Level Psychotherapist from Helsinki, Finland. He is co-founder of the Dialogic Co., which was established in order to develop ideas on both practicing family therapy and supervising and training family therapists, supervisors and organisation consultants. Jorma writes:

“I work within health and social care organisations both in the public and private sector. I’m keen to work with an attitude of ‘dialogizing’ professional ideas. In training contexts I’m very interested in the therapeutic use of self. How as a therapist I should (and could) be, act and relate with my clients in such way they would find our co-work useful? Encountering the dialogical approach some 15 years ago has inspired me and my practice in many ways. Before this time, at the end of a working day, when returning home, I often found myself puzzling “why didn’t I say that?”, “I could have asked that”, “I’m confused”, “I didn’t understand that”…etc. These days I find that the challenge is to share my inner dialogue with clients. How could I talk in a way that increases others’ desire to listen and how could I listen in a way that increases others’ desire to talk?”

Kari ValtanenKari Valtanen is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Family Therapist, living in Rovaniemi, Finland, at the Arctic Circle. He has worked at the Adolescent Psychiatric Unit at the local hospital for the last three years. Before this he worked privately consulting on child & adolescent mental health and child protection, and worked together with the Western Lapland Adolescent Psychiatric team, using the Open Dialogue approach. He has been teaching family and narrative therapy, collaborative, and dialogical practice for several years, and is involved in a joint family therapy training together with the Western Lapland Open Dialogue team.

birgittaBirgitta Alakare has been working in the Psychiatric service in Western Lapland since 1982. She has been the Chief Psychiatrist since 1995, and has been a part of the team developing the Open Dialogue approach since the beginning. She works with adolescents and adults, both in outpatient/community settings and also at Keropudas Hospital. She is a family therapist and a trainer on the Open Dialogue training programme in Western Lapland. Birgitta writes:

“I like to work with families and networks. I always meet patients with team members, and very seldom without the important people in his or her life. I like to be one member of a team, reflecting our thoughts openly together with families. I try to be so that everyone’s voice can be heard. As a psychiatrist I find it’s important to have time enough for people and hear their own ideas before prescribing medications. My own interest in psychiatry is how people explain psychotic experiences and what kind of meanings they and their network give to those experiences. In our Open Dialogue organisation important values are respect, democracy and dialogue in every situation.”

IMG_0694-3Jukka Aaltonen is a Psychiatrist, Professor Emeritus of Family Therapy at Jyväskylä University in Finland, and a Psychoanalyst. He has been a member of the Need Adapted Approach team of the treatment of psychosis since the 1970s (the precursor to the Open Dialogue approach) and one of the initiators and organizers of the Open Dialogue Project in Western Lapland. He has supervised over 10 doctoral theses about the Need Adapted Approach, and has worked as an organizer, supervisor and trainer of family therapy in tens of Psychiatric centres in Finland and internationally.  He supervised Jaakko’s Seikkula’s doctoral theses at Jyväskylä University.