Peer-Supported Open Dialogue

Open Dialogue originally developed with no involvement of peer workers. However, many members of the international consumer/survivor/peer movement have enthusiastically embraced Open Dialogue, and many involved in developing Open Dialogue recognise the value of peer workers, and the congruence between respecting the voices of people in distress and engaging peer workers.

Peer-Supported Open Dialogue is an incredibly exciting but currently under-theorised offshoot from Open Dialogue. One intention of this website is to contribute to addressing this theoretical gap (over time), including drawing on research funded by SANE Australia’s Barbara Hocking Fellowship. Please contact us if you would like to contribute to this expanding knowledge base.

Various possibilities are emerging, so watch this space! Some developments so far include:

  • Open Dialogue UK has explicitly set aside places for three people with a peer background as part of their first three-year Open Dialogue training course in English (out of 30 participants in total): these are Rachel Waddingham, a prominent member of the international Hearing Voices movement, Corrine Hendy, a founding member of Nottingham Trust’s Open Dialogue project and Flick Grey (the creator of this website).
  • Peer-Supported Open Dialogue offers Open Dialogue with the support of peer workers, within the services offered by the National Health Service in the UK. More information to come soon!;
  • The Parachute Project in New York is largely staffed by peers, including a Respite, Warmline and Mobile Treatment Team. All involved have been trained in both Open Dialogue and Intentional Peer Support;
  • Advocates in Massachusetts include a significant peer workforce;
  • the IPSOD project in Wide Bay is an initiative of Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast PHN in partnership with the Wide Bay Mental Health Alcohol Other Drugs Service (WBMHAODS); Flourish Australia; and Central Queensland University. 22 participants completed the Foundation Training by Open Dialogue UK in October 2017. Participants represented a mix of Lived Experience and clinical mental health professionals and academics. Approximately half the participants identify as Lived Experience practitioners – including peer support workers currently working for Flourish Australia’s Peer Operated Service (Hervey Bay); WBMHAODS; Community Solutions and Red Cross.
  • Keropoudas Hospital in Tornio, Finland (i.e. the home of Open Dialogue) has begun to employ peer workers, contracting peers in from a local peer network (rather than being employees of the mental health service);
  • Some Open Dialogue practitioners, such as Will Hall (in the US) and Olga Runcimann  (in Denmark) are prominent members of the international consumer/survivor/peer movement, as well as being trained as therapists and Open Dialogue practitioners;
  • Krisenpension in Berlin is a crisis-respite service, staffed by peers and clinicians, offering an innovative alternative to hospitalisation;
  • Various independent clinicians and peer workers are working together across Europe (e.g. in Denmark, Poland, Germany, Sweden) in innovative and inspiring ways – more information coming soon!

For those interested in employing peer workers, an invaluable resource is Wanda Bennetts’ “Real Lives, real jobs: developing good practice guidelines for a sustainable consumer workforce in the mental health sector, through participatory research.”