Open Dialogue: Finland’s alternative approach to mental illness

//Open Dialogue: Finland’s alternative approach to mental illness

Open Dialogue: Finland’s alternative approach to mental illness

Almost 30 years ago a group of clinicians in Finland decided to treat psychosis differently. Their approach, known as Open Dialogue, has impressive recovery rates—and now Australians are taking an interest, writes Lynne Malcolm and Olivia Willis.

Anna Arabskyj’s story began in October 2012, when her son became unexpectedly ill.

‘[He] was thrust into this world of responding to things that I couldn’t see or hear,’ she says. ‘He did seem, a lot of the time, in quite a bit of distress.’

Her son was experiencing psychosis. He was hospitalised for some time before being put on anti-psychotic medication. After a while, however, the medication stopped working.

Later, a family therapist named Val Jackson introduced Arabskyj to Open Dialogue, a model of crisis care conceived almost 30 years ago in Finland. Jackson inspired Arabskyj to think differently about her son’s experience.

‘She kind of put to me that what was happening to my son was an answer to a very difficult life situation, and when you are faced with that situation it could be possible to begin to hear voices or have unusual beliefs. It can happen to anyone if you are put in that stressful-enough situation.’

Jackson explained to Arabskyj that what her son was experiencing in ‘this other world’ was a metaphor for traumatic life events. Events that her son had not yet found a language to talk about.

Arabskyj and her son began to have sessions to treat his psychosis using the Open Dialogue approach.

‘We loved the meetings. Immediately, my son said it was just so great.’

Open Dialogue, which clinical psychologists have been developing since the 1980s, brings the patient together with their family, friends and health professionals. It’s a meeting of minds, to explore perspectives on the crisis at hand.

The program’s founder, Jaakko Seikkula, says the aim of meetings is not to reach a rapid solution or to immediately change the direction or dynamic of the family.

Read more…

By |2018-09-14T15:50:35+00:00September 14th, 2018|Categories: therapy|Comments Off on Open Dialogue: Finland’s alternative approach to mental illness

About the Author:

When I started my practice 30 years ago I had focused on mental health following my own challenges with my own mental and emotional well-being. Once I had moved my practice from Galway to Dublin I spent the following 20 years working in women’s health, focusing mainly on fertility and childbirth, and the obvious emotional challenges that emerge within pregnancy and birth. Through the years I have treated anxiety, depression, post-natal depression and all the variations of soul-spirit pain that patients experience in life. However, it was only 5 years ago, when a close family member had a drug-induced psychotic experience, that I embarked on a steep learning curve of the dangers of psychiatric medications. These medications are dolled out to people with little to no consideration of the long term damage to their brains. It is my hope that I can share with you the information, advice and guidance that I have received along the way. Information is power!! I hope to empower you and your loved ones and to know that although people may be in dire emotional pain, there is a way forward to be free of psychiatric medication.