Open Dialogue National Conference - an interview with Dr Russell Razzaque | News and events

Open Dialogue National Conference - an interview with Dr Russell Razzaque | News and events

Nelft logo


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

Read the latest NELFT news, including information on our services, new trust staff, research and development of our services.

Open Dialogue National Conference - an interview with Dr Russell Razzaque

The annual Peer-support Open Dialogue national conference takes place on Wednesday 28 February. It will be the fifth event organised by NELFT and takes place at Regent Hall on Oxford Street in central London from 10am until 5pm.

Previous conferences have been well attended and have heard from a combination of clinicians and service users, who have talked, very movingly, about their experiences of Open Dialogue and the difference it has made to the lives of patients and their families.

The annual conference will be hosted by Consultant Psychiatrist and Director of Research Dr Russell Razzaque (pictured at the conference in 2016) . In addition, given the international attention generated in Open Dialogue, the conference will be welcoming the founders and most high-profile Open Dialogue practitioners and teachers from around the world, including Jaakko Seikkula - who will be speaking on the day too.

The conference will be based around a series of dialogues that clinicians and clients will share, as they take us into a deeper understanding of what Open Dialogue is and how they are integrating it into their work and their lives.

In the afternoon, there will also be academics from the UK and internationally, talking about the latest research into Open Dialogue, with some announcements about its future in the NHS, and the evaluations taking place. Please join us for another momentous day.

To find out more about the conference, we spoke to Dr Russell Razzaque…

This year’s event will be the fifth conference NELFT has hosted and each year they are getting more high profile, can you give us an idea of who will be speaking and why people should attend?

We now have a wide body of psychiatrists who have been practicing Open Dialogue and so they will be our early speakers. As we gear up for the trial - the world's largest ever study of Open Dialogue - we will also be hearing from the pilot teams that have already launched; both their staff and patients. 

Finally we will also hear from the growing team of academics who are behind the trial and who will be helping us manage and evaluate all the work of the trial teams.

The previous conferences have seen many patients extoling the virtues of Open Dialogue – do you think the UK has been slow to embrace the approach?

I wouldn't say it's slow. In order to be rolled out nationally, we need a deeper evidence base in the form of a major national randomised controlled trial, and this is what we are currently engaged in. Our hope is that, as the results for this start to flow in we should start to see change happening on a more widespread basis nationally. 

Can you briefly explain what Open Dialogue is?

Open Dialogue is pioneering mental health care that came across to the UK from Finland, where it was developed in the 80s. It involves a consistent family and social network approach where all treatment is carried out via a whole system/network meetings, which always include the patient

All healthcare staff involved in Open Dialogue are trained in family therapy and related psychological skills. The Open Dialogue approach is a different approach to much of mental health care in the UK, but it has been discussed for several years with interest by several NHS Trusts around the country.

Open Dialogue has been taken up in countries around the world, including much of the rest of Scandinavia, Germany and America. 

Some of the results from international non-randomised trials are striking. For example, 72% of those with first episode psychosis treated via an Open Dialogue approach returned to work or study within two years, despite significantly lower rates of medication and hospitalisation compared to treatment as usual.

You were the driving force behind the launch of the NELFT Dialogue First service – what have been the results for patients accessing the service?

This is an innovation we brought in to help people who were keen to receive an Open Dialogue style service (if not the full thing) when not in crisis, while we await the outcomes of the trial. We have received referrals from far and wide across the country and have been deeply moved by the testimonials we received from our clients who have talked about the difference this service made to their lives and why they were prepared to commute from many miles away in order to receive it - sometimes regularly for years. The service continues to build, with more referrals each year. 

Thanks to Dr Razzaque for his time. 

Tickets are available on a donations basis and can be purchased from the Event Brite website at: 

For further information on Dialogue First, visit the NELFT website:

This website makes use of Essential Cookies, as defined in the UK GDPR, in order to function and to improve your security, e.g. when submitting forms. These Essential Cookies are only for security and site function, and do not track individual in any way.

In order to better understand your needs and so improve our services to you, this website may also make use of some cookies that are used for traffic analytics or other behavioural statistics ("Analytics Cookies"). More details can be found on our Privacy Page .

If you are happy to accept these Analytics Cookies, please press the Accept button; if you are not happy to accept these Analytics Cookies, this site will still work correctly but some third party services (such as some videos or social media feeds) may not display.

Please choose a setting: