Open Dialogue Conference 2018 - NELFT hosted the annual event | News and events

Open Dialogue Conference 2018 - NELFT hosted the annual event | News and events

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NELFT NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of  community health and mental health services across the north east London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, Essex and Kent and Medway

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Open Dialogue Conference 2018 - NELFT hosted the annual event

The fifth Peer-supported Open Dialogue Conference took place in London on Wednesday 28 February. The conference, hosted annually by NELFT, saw around 300 delegates brave sub-zero conditions to attend the event at Regent Hall on Oxford Street.

Speakers on the day, from across the world, highlighted how Open Dialogue has become a global phenomenon and representatives from programs in the US, Norway and Finland gave talks about the progress in those countries.

The event was also streamed live on Twitter and had its own hashtag #pod4nhs - which allowed people at the event to contribute and for those who couldn’t attend to follow. The live Periscope stream was popular and received over 800 views.


NELFT Chief Executive John Brouder (pictured above) was the opening speaker on a packed and varied programme, which also included the opportunity for attendees to put questions to various speakers. The host Dr Russell Razzaque then outlined the agenda for the day before giving a talk about the core principles of Open Dialogue.

The conference was given a revealing insight into the psychiatrists’ experience of Open Dialogue by Chris Salway, Gareth Jarvis, Catherine Kinane and Amy Jebreel – before Jaakko Seikkula (pictured below) gave a well-received speech about the origins of Open Dialogue and how the idea was developed by himself and colleagues in Finland.


Yasmin Ishaq gave an update on reflections that the Kent and Medway pilot team had on the Open Dialogue trial and also some feedback from patients and their families, who were unable to make it to the conference.

In the afternoon, the conference was treated to an emotional talk with Val Jackson and a patient’s mother, who discussed her son’s journey and how Open Dialogue was leading to an improvement in his mental health.

(Pictured are (L-R): Gareth Jarvis, Chris Salway, Catherine Kinane and Amy Jebreel)

After a break for lunch, Mark Hopfenback, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, talked about learning and training, as well as the core values of Open Dialogue.

Doug Zedonis, who had left the sunny climbes of San Diego to visit snowy London, addressed the conference on how Open Dialogue was being implemented in California and discussed training, fidelity tools and providing technical assistance for organisational change. Mr Zedonis also provided an update on how Open Dialogue is growing in Denmark, Italy and Latvia.

Corrine Hendy from Open Dialogue Nottingham then gave a presentation about how the ODDESSI programme has been developing the peer element of Open Dialogue, and joined Russell Razzaque, Doug Zedonis and Mark Hopfenbeck for an energetic question and answer session (pictured below), which saw several speakers urge the attendees to push for an expansion of Open Dialogue services across the country.


The conference ended with an update from Steve Pilling on how the UK Open Dialogue trial was progressing, The trial was funded with a £2.4m grant from National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is the largest trial ever to have taken place into Open Dialogue.

About the conference, NELFT's Director of Research Dr Russell Razzaque said: "It was a very exciting day and we’ve heard from a great variety of speakers. We’ve had teams that are actually working on Open Dialogue regularly in the NHS, including those at NELFT.

“We also had academics and professors from around the world who are experts in Open Dialogue, talking to us about their experiences of Open Dialogue and the differences it has made to their lives and to hundreds of people they’ve worked with. But also, we have heard how different this is from the traditional care that people tend to get from the mental health services.

“Today has been a real landmark on our journey. We are officially in the trial now. The beginning of Open Dialogue in the mainstream NHS has happened today.”

NELFT’s Dialogue First is a non-crisis community mental health service which specialises in working not just with individuals, but with families and extended networks as part of a holistic approach to patient care. 

The treatment recognises that mental health problems exist within a context and the issues that arise sit between people, rather than being endured by one person alone. Clinicians meet with the patient, but also with all significant others who want to join in the collaborative approach to care.

All staff providing the service have undertaken training in Open Dialogue – the first to be trained in the NHS. This includes psychiatrists, therapists, nurses and support workers. Staff are trained in a foundation level qualification in family therapy and are all registered with the Academy of Peer-supported Open Dialogue.

For more information about the Dialogue First service, visit their website:

To look back at some of the events at the conference, visit Twitter and use the hashtag #POD4NHS