The Open Dialogue International Trainers Conference Helsinki September 2018

Over 90 Trainers from all over the world converged on Helsinki for the ever first International Trainers Conference. It was wonderful to meet Facebook friends and colleagues and to connect with people whose work one had read about and whose names are well known in the Open Dialogue world. The aim of the conference was to bring us together in order to promote thinking about Open Dialogue training and training programmes. The attendees came from a wide range of different training programmes, of varied lengths taking place in different countries so there were huge variables in the trainings we had received or were providing. The attendees were psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses and occupational therapists whom had completed a two or three year training in addition to other trainings and had had experience in offering training in their various settings and organisations.Jaakko Seikkula opened up the conference on the Friday night after registration and acknowledged that the idea for the conference for Open Dialogue Trainers was Mark Hopfenbeck and that he had imagined that the conference would only comprise of some 20-30participants. Jaakko was therefore surprised that the conference had attracted so many interested individuals that the original venue in Espoo had to be abandoned in order to accommodate the numbers. The venue at Arcadia University was ideal and interestingly hosted an African cultural day on the Saturday which provided us with lunchtime entertainment and delicious food and drink.

The conference was conducted in a dialogical fashion and after an initial introduction to dialogical practice presented by Pekka Holm. We were left to propose subjects for discussion and to present these concepts to the attendees in order that we could select the most appropriate to take forward for further discussion. There were a number of ideas discussed including the content of courses, issues around ethics, potential course accreditation’s and validity, training issues, power balances within the relationships in Open Dialogue network meetings ( to name but a few).

The discussions then ensued were the start of further dialogue and 3 main working groups were put in place to foster further exploration.Mary Olsen and Corrine Hendy will be responsible for the working group on accreditation Jane Hetherington on the future of the network and organisational models

Cindy Peterson-Dana and Olaf Galisch will be responsible for the working group on power, ethics and values. There was also further discussion in relation to the role of women in Open Dialogue and a well attended woman’s group was convened chaired by Lisa Monaghan. The concept of the Persephone Project was discussed a project that was founded Mary Olsen in the United States to enable women to work with young women’s issues, eating disorders, self harming etc. The group planned to reconvene at such conferences on a regular basis, to keep women’s issues and thinking around gender dynamics on the agenda.

Author Bio: Jane Hetherington, Principal Psychotherapist at KMPT and an employee at Early Intervention Services in Kent, has completed Open Dialogue course and will be a part of the new Open Dialogue service. She is trained as an integrative psychotherapist and has experience working in primary care, substance misuse, and psychosis services. Here, she writes about a few psychotherapeutic theories.

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