Welcome to the international website for the Open Dialogue approach. The approach has been developed in Western Lapland since the 1980s, and is now being introduced in many other countries as well. This website has been designed to introduce an international audience to the Open Dialogue approach, and will include blog on developments around the world, including new services, training programmes, and research. It will soon include a blog section where those involved in the development will write articles relating to Open Dialogue, and a forum where those who are interested in learning more about the approach and communicating online can do so. In time there will be additional resources related to the approach on this site.

As this is an international website, we want it to be as multilingual as possible, and so we will be inviting members of the Open Dialogue community to translate pages into their own language. Anyone else can also offer to translate pages/content via the form on this page.

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 40 years or so. In the 1980s psychiatric services in Western Lapland were in a poor state, in fact they had one of the worst incidences 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 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 is possible. Open Dialogue has drawn on a number of theoretical models, including systemic family therapy, dialogical theory and social constructionism.

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