Peer work in Open Dialogue: A discussion paper.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Int J Ment Health Nurs, 2018, 27, (5), pp. 1574-1583
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Open Dialogue is a resource-oriented approach to mental health care that originated in Finland. As Open Dialogue has been adopted across diverse international healthcare settings, it has been adapted according to contextual factors. One important development in Open Dialogue has been the incorporation of paid, formal peer work. Peer work draws on the knowledge and wisdom gained through lived experience of distress and hardship to establish mutual, reciprocal, and supportive relationships with service users. As Open Dialogue is now being implemented across mental health services in Australia, stakeholders are beginning to consider the role that peer workers might have in this model of care. Open Dialogue was not, initially, conceived to include a specific role for peers, and there is little available literature, and even less empirical research, in this area. This discussion paper aims to surface some of the current debates and ideas about peer work in Open Dialogue. Examples and models of peer work in Open Dialogue are examined, and the potential benefits and challenges of adopting this approach in health services are discussed. Peer work in Open Dialogue could potentially foster democracy and disrupt clinical hierarchies, but could also move peer work from reciprocal to a less symmetrical relationship of 'giver' and 'receiver' of care. Other models of care, such as lived experience practitioners in Open Dialogue, can be conceived. However, it remains uncertain whether the hierarchical structures in healthcare and current models of funding would support any such models.
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