The Great Unfolding Of Our Hearts

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‘The Great Unfolding Of Our Hearts’


Dr Russell Razzaque introduced the conference to a 600 strong audience and welcomed delegates from Germany, Canada and Scotland. The great interest in Open Dialogue he said was borne out of mental health workers feeling ‘we can do better’. He said that better care from the outset was more economical in the long run. In OD 72% of people presenting with first episode psychosis were back to work within 2 years. He said that good mental health works around good relationships. The crucial importance of relationships was repeated by others frequently throughout the day.

John Brouder – Chief Executive of NELFT took the floor next saying OD will be ‘the revolution in mental health services’ and said OD resonates very closely with a mindful approach of ‘being present’. Being present to hear the patient in their distress and not to ‘shut them down’ – for clinicians to be able to tolerate uncertainty frequently not knowing where things will lead -this struck a chord with me in my own experiences of working as a nurse.

Mark Hofenberg quoted Karl Rogers the more a therapist is themselves the more a person recovers’ and said that we needed to keep asking ourselves as clinicians ‘are we doing it good enough’. He described OD as being based on science. It is focussed on three values, openness, authenticity and unconditional warmth or love. Clinicians needed to practice self -compassion to feel compassion for others and that OD training was ‘a journey of self- discovery and learning to be trusting of the patient’s ability to heal themselves”.

A considerable part of the conference was focussed on the wealth of knowledge in families and therefore the importance of families in the process. The ‘Triangle of Care’ an important document in relation to this was mentioned.

Dr Tom Stockman, who had invited me to the conference, said what was different about OD was you could ‘feel the hope’ – that something profound seemed to be happening with the patients receiving the OD approach, ‘though we were still not quite sure what it was’. There was lively debate in the audience following the presentations with a high proportion of input from mothers of sons with psychosis. A GP also spoke about how he was ‘blown away’ by the approach and asked about its use in primary care.

The thing that left the biggest mark on me from the conference was a story from a delegate who had lost her brother to suicide. He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and she said did not get the help he needed. She said she was writing a book about her brother – The Great Unfolding of our Hearts – where I believe the greatest value of Open Dialogue lies. or contact PLUS for more info.

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