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January 30, 2019 by Mary Olson, PhD

The History of the Open Dialogue Approach in the United States

Presented at the World Open Dialogue Conference, Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, February 2019.

I wish like to thank Nazlim Hagmann MD for her invaluable feedback on an earlier draft of this essay.

“Open Dialogue”—a network approach to severe psychiatric crises developed at Keropudas Hospital in Tornio, Finland–first began to attract notable attention in the United States a decade ago, although many ideas and practices that influenced its evolution in Finland actually came from the US. In particular, the Finnish team refined and advanced elements of US family therapy. Among these US linkages are Gregory Bateson’s Palo Alto research on family communication (1952-1962); Ross Speck and Carolyn Attneave’s network therapy for schizophrenia that flourished in the late sixties at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, and Harry Goolishian and Harlene Anderson’s collaborative-language approach that emerged in the eighties at the Galveston Institute in Texas. While holding in mind that Open Dialogue is indebted to these and other US ancestors, this brief essay will focus on the recent wave of interest in the Finnish approach.

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