New Dialogue First Service

A new person-centred mental health service utilising key principles of Open Dialogue

What is Dialogue First?

NELFT NHS Foundation Trust offers Peer-supported Open Dialogue to some of the service users in our area. We told many people about this approach at our conference last year - and heard from service users and their families from across the country who wanted the same care from their mental health teams. In response to this, we have set up an Open Dialogue informed service that accepts referrals from across the UK.

Dialogue First is a non-crisis community mental health service, run by NELFT NHS Foundation Trust - with a difference.

We specialise in working not just with individuals but with families and extended networks as part of a holistic approach to patient care.

We recognise that mental health problems exist within a context, and the issues that arise sit between people, rather than being experienced by one person alone. This is why we meet with the patient and also with all significant others who want to join with us in a collaborative approach to care.

Who we are

All our staff have been trained in Open Dialogue – the first to be trained in the NHS. This includes psychiatrists, therapists, nurses, and support workers. 

We are trained to a foundation level qualification in family therapy and we are all registered with the Academy of Peer-Supported Open Dialogue. The training involves aspects of family therapy as well as mindfulness and other approaches.

Our approach

We aim to provide a non-hierarchical, person-centred approach to care. We believe that every person within the meeting has an equal voice – no person’s opinion is more important than another, be it the patient, doctor, mother support worker and so on. Family members and significant others and the team are partners in a person’s recovery.

We follow several other core principles of the Open Dialogue approachone of which is Dialogism - a therapeutic attitude that aims to bring out all voices, and make sure that all in the meeting feel fully heard. This gives people an opportunity to find their own meaning through their experience.

For more information on our approach, please see the NELFT Open Dialogue page here

What do we offer

  • We accepts referrals from all over the UK
  • We meet with people who are not in crisis, and who are not currently under the care of a mental health team
  • These meetings are held at NELFT (in North East London/Essex)  in our group and family therapy rooms
  • We will meet with you and your family /significant others as regularly as you want to
  • Continuity of care is a guiding principle – the same two team members will meet with you throughout your time with the service
  • The timing of discharge from our service is guided by you and your family/ significant others – not by us
  • As it is an out-of-area service, we  cannot provide inpatient care or home visits

Making contact and referrals

We accept referrals from primary care (your GP) via the E Referrals system for outpatient/community treatment. Your GP will be able to access the referral from via this system, they may ask you some questions about your mental health before filling it out and sending it to us.

Booking an appointment

Through E Referrals you will be able to book a telephone appointment with us in which we can learn more about you and explain the service in more detail.

If all works out then, we can start organising our first network meeting together. The same staff members who join you in that first meeting will then be assigned to you for the duration of your time in our service, and our goal from the outset will be to work in a collaborative way with all members of the network to provide holistic care in full partnership with you.

For general enquiries you can call 01708 574 004 and leave a message on the voicemail or email us at