Working groups are space for elaborating the use of dialogical ideas in a specific field / domain / context. Each working group will meet on 3 occasions (75 minutes each) during the conference and will have space for a short presentation (approx. 8 minutes) at the end of the conference. The role of facilitators is not to present their work but to facilitate the dialogue on a given topic.

Meetings of working groups:
Thursday 13:30-14:40
Friday 13:30-14:40
Saturday 13:30-14:40
Final presentation of working group outcomes:
Saturday 15:00-16:15

Working groups and facilitators:

Ming Tai-Seale & Amanda Walker: Application of dialogical practices in educating healthcare professionals to deliver effective mental health care in primary care settings

Room: 4.24 UN/U08 




The purpose of the working group is to ideate the application of dialogical practices to enrich didactic and experiential education of medical students, primary care residents, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. To compare the options in which to teach dialogical practices to these healthcare professional learners to prepare them to deliver effective mental health care in primary care settings. To plan future collaboration among working group members to develop and refine the mental health education program informed by dialogical practices.


How we will ensure all voices will be heard:


  • Create a safe and inclusive environment: Start by establishing ground rules that encourage respectful dialogue and ensure that everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Encourage participants to listen actively and avoid interrupting others.
  • Use icebreakers and team-building exercises: These activities can help participants get to know each other and feel more comfortable speaking up.
  • Encourage participation from everyone: Make sure that each participant could speak by actively soliciting input from individuals who may be more reserved. Use techniques such as round-robin or popcorn-style discussions, where everyone takes turns sharing their ideas.
  • Encourage Active Listening: Encourage participants to actively listen to each other by asking them to summarize or paraphrase what someone has said before adding their own thoughts.
  • Use Visual Aids: Use visual aids such as whiteboards, flipcharts, or sticky notes to help participants visualize their ideas and contributions. This can also help to ensure that everyone's ideas are recorded and remembered.
  • Provide multiple channels for communication: will provide a variety of ways for participants to contribute their ideas, such as anonymous surveys, or breakout groups.
  • Use facilitation techniques: As a facilitator, I will remain neutral and ensure that everyone has a chance to speak. Will summarize key points or ask open-ended questions to encourage further discussion.
  • Address power imbalances: Be aware of any power dynamics that may be present in the group and take steps to mitigate them. For example, if one individual dominates the conversation, gently redirect the conversation to ensure that others have a chance to speak.
  • Check-in Regularly: Check in regularly with participants to ensure that everyone is feeling heard and included. This can be done through one-on-one conversations or by asking for feedback from the group on what worked (pluses) and what may need to be changed (deltas) before the end of each session.
  • Document and summarize key points: Use a poster board, place post-it notes made by participants during the workshop on the board, synthesize and summarize key points at the end to ensure that everyone's ideas are captured and that the group has a shared understanding of the discussion."

Kristof Mikes-Liu: Dialogical practice in mainstream mental health settings

Room:5.02 UN/KBV 




While there are examples of dialogical practices operating in mainstream mental health settings, many such settings are informed by a biomedical paradigm with some efforts to move toward recovery or trauma-informed principles. Leaving mainstream settings is not always possible or easy, and for some clinicians may be ethically problematic. Clinicians may be left with a choice of accepting the status quo or radically challenging it. Between these two choices there may also be other options that ensure survival both in terms of keeping a job and working in a way that is consistent with one's values.


This Working Group aims to bring participants representing a range of roles and perspectives in mainstream mental health services together. It is hoped that the group is able to address important questions that arise. These questions could be, for example: What are the features of mainstream mental health services and what are the points of congruence and incongruence with dialogical practice? What are opportunities for inviting people who work in and receive care from mental health services to experience dialogue? What obstacles might be encountered in individual efforts and how might they be addressed? What might the next steps be? A key aim of the working group is to be able to speak in a genuine way about the challenges participants may face and explore options that might be meaningful and achievable.


Suggestions for sessions:


Session 1: Introductions and sharing. Collectively discuss: key aspects of mainstream mental health practice; key aspect of dialogical practice; points of incongruence.


Session 2: Collectively discuss: points of congruence; experiences and opportunities for inviting practitioners and consumers/carers to experience dialogue (including surprising or unexpected contexts).


Session 3: Collectively discuss: opportunities and obstacles; possible next steps. Preparing for the final presentation.


Discussion may take the format of a presentation with reflections; an interview with reflections; small reflecting groups; fishbowl exercises; etc. Different participants may be invited to facilitate or co-facilitate different parts of the working party. Facilitators may include questions that draw out voices that are less prominent or that are not present. For example: asking which voices are absent from the discussion; linking activities to bodily felt experiences or artistic expression; imagining different voices. An effort will be made to summarise the content of each session and circulate this learning to the group.

Yuichi Oi, Yasukazu Ogai, Tamaki Saito: How do dialogues promote human health and well-being?

Room: 4.05 UN/U09 




We would like to approach the meaning of dialogue in the context of human health and well-being. Humans are in constant dialogue throughout our lives. Dialogue is an ever-present aspect of our life, which makes it quite difficult for us to be aware of its influence and meaning. How does dialogue promote human health and well-being? Or how can a lack of dialogue inhibit them? While referring to Antonovsky's Salutogenesis, we would like to explore this topic from a variety of perspectives, not limited to Salutogenesis.

Facilitation will be conducted with enough time for interactive dialogue so that all participants have an opportunity to talk. If there are a large number of participants, small group discussions will be held in parallel. Discussion will be visualized at each session in preparation for the presentation.

Nina Harriet Saarinen & Riccardo Mazzeo: Education and pedagogy: Dialogical health promotion in schools

Room: Classroom with piano U02




Premise: The national and local plans for health promotion in 2020-2025 in Italy include the framework of Schools for health Europe to become realized all over Italy. The Schools for Health Europe Network (SHE) has existed since 1991 and started as a network supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Since 2017, SHE has been an independent NGO with its own legal entity, hosted by University College South Denmark, co-funded by the EU and supported by WHO Europe. Dialogue has become a good practice recognized by the local network of health promoting schools in Brescia (Lombardia, Italy) supported on the local institutional level.


SHE Core Values: Equity. Equal access for all to education and health. Sustainability. Health, education and development are linked. Activities and programmes are implemented in a systematic way over a prolonged period. Inclusion. Diversity is celebrated. Schools are communities of learning, where all feel trusted and respected. Empowerment. All members of the school community are actively involved. Democracy. Health promoting schools are based on democratic values.


SHE Pillars: Whole school approach to health promotion. Combine health education in the classroom with development of school policies, school environment, life competencies and involving the whole school community. Participation. A sense of ownership by students, staff and parents. School quality. Health promoting schools create better teaching and learning processes and outcomes. Healthy students learn better; healthy staff work better. Evidence. Development of new approaches and practices based on existing and emerging research. School and community. Schools are seen as active agents for community development.


The working group themes will draw on the plenary sessions every respective day.


For the three meetings they will be as follows:


1. The inner dialogue in student welfare

2. The dialogue in health promoting and healing networks of the educational community - listening and being heard (online/offline)

3. The power and potential of dialogue as a way of being – the right to become human in a learning community online/offline


Some resources:

Pavel Nepustil & Jakub Černý: Dialogical practice & Psychedelics

Room: 2.05 Rotunda




The purpose of this working group will be to explore ways how we can use ideas and principles of dialogical practice in the context of psychedelic experience, or, more broadly, altered states of consciousness. Psychedelic renaissance is flourishing all over the world, the research shows promising results of using psychedelic substances in mental health care, new psychedelic clinics are being established and the interest of the general public is huge. In the Czech Republic, the movement builds especially on the work of Stan Grof who developed holotropic breathwork as a way of inducing altered state of mind without using a psychoactive substance. Are there some common threads between the psychedelic and dialogical world?


In this working group, we will firstly gather topics focused on the use of dialogical practices in the context of psychedelic experience.


As examples, these topics can include:


  • inner dialogue during altered state of consciousness
  • dialogical facilitation of a group aimed at integration of psychedelic experience
  • using open dialogue with people in extreme states induced by psychedelic


The working group will focus on selected topics and develop a proposal for further inquiry into this phenomenon. We will specifically elicit each voice at the first working group session and then we might organize sub-groups that will be working on specific themes. Each sub-group will have a facilitator who will ensure that all the voices are heard.

Zuzana Durajová & Edita Henzl: Supporting legal capacity: An Open Dialogue perspective

Room: 2.10 UN/U04 




This working group is dedicated to exploring and exchanging best practices for ensuring the legal capacity of persons with disabilities in mental health support services. We invite all practitioners who are interested in discussing how Open Dialogue can be used to support and respect the legal capacity of people with disabilities in practical, meaningful ways.


As Open Dialogue practitioners, we recognize the importance of the principles outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Article 12, including (but not limited to) the right to equal recognition before the law, the right to support in decision-making, and the right to legal capacity.


We are interested in discussing concrete experiences and challenges of implementing these principles in our respective countries. Sharing our stories and reflecting on the rights of persons with disabilities can help us identify the potential contexts and resources that make the implementation of Open Dialogue possible, but also highlight where even well intentioned Open Dialogue practitioners run the risks of our services being co-opted, professionalized, or only rights-based on paper and not in practice. We look forward to engaging in this vital conversation and working towards a more inclusive and equitable future for persons with disabilities.


In alignment with the principles of the OD Approach, we would like to keep the format adaptable and flexible to meet unique needs of the actual participants of the working group. We do, however, have a couple of initial guiding points and directions in mind. To begin with, we would like to shortly share our own relationship with the topic and the reasons for offering this working group. We would then like to open the floor for everyone to get a chance to do so as well. This initial conversation will shape both the content and the format of the working group.


Depending on the number of participants, we will choose working with the entire group, dyad work or small group work, employing formats like a facilitated network meeting, reflecting teams, fishbowl etc.. emphasizing a balance between small group spaces and sharing in the bigger group.


Some of the principles important for the format of our working group are: Focusing on creating a supportive, safe environment where the participants can engage with one another. Prioritizing the needs, experiences, and perspectives of the individuals involved, rather than solely addressing the problem or issue at hand. Respect for a diversity in thoughts, experiences, and backgrounds, encouraging sharing own experiences and shaping the direction of the meeting. Encouraging all participants to actively engage and have their voices present in the form they prefer."

Ben Ong: How to talk about and explain dialogical practices

Room: 5.25 UN/KCD 




Open Dialogue and dialogical practices represent a departure from mainstream ways of working, which prioritise therapists’ knowledge and skills in assessment, diagnosis and intervention. For mainstream clinicians, dialogical practices can be difficult to understand. At best dialogical practices can be misunderstood and at worst dismissed as something of little value or even irresponsible for not following usual practices. If dialogical practices are to gain wider acceptance in mainstream services, dialogical practitioners must be able to present dialogical practices in ways that are understandable and acceptable to clinicians, managers, and external services who operate from a different mindset.


As a dialogical practitioner, I am often asked “what is different?” about the approach, and why should people consider it as an alternative or complement to their usual ways of working. I have found that it can be difficult to describe dialogical practice in concrete terms that people can easily understand. My descriptions have included things such as “working with” people, involving all family members, generating new ideas, or having a more human approach. However, I do not feel that these descriptions accurately capture dialogical practice and I am often met with responses such as “we do that already” or “isn’t that just collaborative practice or family therapy?”


In this working group, we will together think about and discuss the essential elements that make dialogical approaches unique, some of the difficulties in explaining a dialogical approach, and how we may better describe and talk about the essential elements. My hope is that together we can come up with some ways of describing dialogical practices that clearly articulate the core elements and their importance, which can build interest and inspire other clinicians to learn more.


Before the first working group meeting I invite all participants to think about what they consider to be the central components of dialogical practices and how they have attempted to explain these to other clinicians in the past.


Each session will follow a similar structure with time for an initial group discussion of thoughts arising from the previous session where each participant will be invited to contribute if they wish. We will break into small groups at different points each session to provide more opportunities to contribute than in a larger group. All small group discussions will be followed by a larger group discussion so that ideas can be shared amongst all participants. I will facilitate the large group sessions and will invite all members to contribute if they wish.

Edita Henzl, Irene Nenoff-Herchenbach, Katrin Eissing: Open Dialogue trainings around the world - sharing experiences and learning together - a continuation of a conversation

Room: 2.21 UN/U03




Purpose of the Working Group:


In recent years, there has been a proliferation of training programs worldwide offering foundational training in the Open Dialogue approach. These trainings take place in countries such as Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, the UK, the US, and possibly others. With the growing number of training programs and experiences, there is a need to establish a space for exchange of experiences and an ongoing conversation about the quality management of these different programs and their commensurability.


While some conversations are already taking place in various meetings and in written form (e.g., ISPS Book on Open Dialogue, the special issue of Frontiers in Psychology, etc.), we believe this working group represents a unique opportunity to continue these conversations.


The working group will have a dual focus. Firstly, it will provide a platform for participants to share their experiences and exchange content related to the training programs' curricula. Secondly, it will provide an opportunity to discuss the commensurability of the training programs, quality management, and related challenges (establishing OD on an international level).


What follows is a non-exhaustive description of areas to explore within these two lines of inquiry.


Sharing experiences and content, curricula related exchange


Introducing the specific training programs / sharing experiences:


An important part of sharing experiences and learning from them is introducing and describing the specific contexts in which Open Dialogue training programmes are being offered in various countries. It is important to understand the local context, history of the training programmes, and specific aims with which they were developed. Lastly, the introduction part can serve to describe the details about the practical organization and structure of the training programmes in terms of time allocation, frequency of meetings, working of the trainer team and the composition and diversity of the training groups.


Content / Curricula related exchange:


The focus of this part of the inquiry lies in comparing and exchanging the content and curricula of the different Open Dialogue training programs implemented in different national contexts, with the aim of identifying commonalities and differences in what topics are given importance and how are they being covered, what kinds of practical exercises are used both for developing skills and for self-experience purpose and what strategies are adopted to make the trainings themselves dialogical in character.


For the purpose of this exchange it is important to keep in mind the two essential aspects of the OD Approach (as conceptualized by eds. Putnam and Martindale, 2022) - the therapeutic and philosophical approach to being with people in times of crisis/need and a way of organizing mental health services. At the same time, when understanding OD as being a value-based practice, we deem important to consider both the adoption of the set of values and the ethical orientation – the philosophical stance, as conceptualized by Harlene Anderson or Haltung (Schütze, forthcoming) – and the practical aspects concerning the specific ways of working with people in crisis. We are particularly interested in the presence of these three aspects of the OD approach in the foundational trainings. In other words, as expressed by Werner Schütze (forthcoming), how do we support participants in implementing structural changes in their respective contexts and how do we support them in gaining the confidence and the set of skills to be capable of facilitating network meetings? Adding a third question – how are we inviting the participants to experience, to learn and to adopt OD as a set of values?


Commensurability, Institutionalization* and Quality Management


The institutional context in which the Open Dialogue (OD) training programs are delivered varies across different countries and contexts. Accreditation processes and funding sources also differ, with some training programs being accredited through national agencies, while others are offered through existing professional bodies in a medical, social work, or community context. These different sources of legitimacy and professional boundaries can have significant consequences for the content, structure, and accessibility of the training programs. It's important to explore how different training programs found their niche and compare experiences to better understand the implications of these different contexts on the development and delivery of OD training programs.


In addition to understanding the context and sources of legitimacy of each training program, it's also important to consider the comparability of these programs across different countries and contexts. It's also important to explore the possibility of creating a framework or platform that could help maintain continuity and manage quality across the different programs, especially given the diversity in accreditation processes and professional boundaries across different countries. There are already existing attempts made in this direction – the establishment of Train the trainers programmes, the formulation of fidelity criteria and recently the development of assessment tools like PODACI (Fedosejevs, Shi, Hopfenbe ck, 2023) – the Peer supported Open Dialogue Attitudes and Competence Inventory – to assess the competence of trainees and the effectiveness of the training programmes. However, there is a risk that institutionalizing these criteria and tools could lead to a loss of the polyphony and richness of different formats and forms of training programs, and could therefore compromise the value based character of the Open Dialogue training programs.


Format – how we will ensure that all the voices are heard


In alignment with the principles of the OD Approach, we would like to keep the format adaptable and flexible to meet the unique needs of the actual participants of the working group.


We do, however, have a set of preliminary ideas on how to best divide the space of the working group among the different topics to be explored. Yet, in alignment with the principle of flexibility, we are ready to respond to and to prioritize the preferences of the participants present in the conversation. The time frame of our working group is 70 minutes on 3 days.


Day 1: Sharing what brings us to organize the working group and to participate in it. Introducing the specific training programs.

Day 2: Sharing what is important for us in various trainings – Content/Curricula related exchange.

Day 3: Commensurability, Institutionalization and Quality Management and how do we continue this conversation?


We also have a set of principles and ideas in terms structuring the space so that we can:


  • Support the relationships among the people present in the working group (as one of the key points of dialogical practice formulated by Werner Schütze) – as one of the most important contributions is to get to know each other and find ways of continuing the exchange.
  • Have the most variability and diversity in terms of different voices one comes into a dialogue with during the working groups – mixing up small group work, encouraging participants to chose to engage with people one has not worked with yet, potentially doing two rounds of small work groups – In order to foster polyphony.
  • Make sure to have a shared space during every meeting of the working group – which will serve the purpose of everyone coming together – these spaces will be facilitated by two facilitators, similarly as a network meeting would be.


* When using the term institutionalization, we were initially referring to its sociological meaning – referring to the process of embedding the practice of Open Dialogue within the wider professional field, possibly on a cross national level. We are also referring to the political sense of the word – as a process of creating institutions or professional bodies overseeing an implementation of a practice. We are aware of the problematic connotations of the term. We were debating substituting it by different terms, for example the term professionalization, which carries its own set of difficulties (see p.e..Gerard, 2019). For now, we have decided to keep the term institutionalization present as a reminder of the inherent tensions, intricacies and possible risks that go hand in hand with Institutions.