Implementing Open Dialogue approaches: A scoping review

Niels Buus, Ben Ong, Rochelle Einboden, Elizabeth Lennon, Kristof Mikes-Liu, Steven Mayers, Andrea McCloughen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Open Dialogue approaches fall broadly into the area of systemic psychotherapeutic practices. They encourage active participation of families and social networks, and emphasize genuine collaboration within highly integrated systems of health-care service delivery. These approaches are currently being implemented in a growing number of services across the globe, and in this review, we summarize and discuss insights from papers concerned with the implementation of Open Dialogue. We used a scoping review method, which included systematic literature searches and summarizing data extraction as well as consultation with eight Open Dialogue implementation stakeholders who were invited to comment on preliminary review findings and a draft paper. We included 18 studies in the review and present their content under four thematic headings: 1. Training, 2. Family and network experiences, 3. Staff members’ experiences, and 4. Structural and organizational barriers and resistance to implementation. In general, the studies did not include rich descriptions of the implementation contexts, which made it difficult to draw conclusions across studies about effective implementation practices. The discussion draws on Jamous and Peloille’s (Professions and professionalisation, 1970, Cambridge University Press, 109-152) concepts of “indeterminacy” and “technicality,” and we argue that the indeterminacy that dominates Open Dialogue is a challenge to implementation efforts that favor specific and standardized practices. We conclude by encouraging the development of implementation initiatives that theorize Open Dialogue practices with higher levels of technicality without corrupting the fundamental spirit of the approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1133
Number of pages17
JournalFamily Process
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • family therapy
  • Implementation Science
  • Open Dialogue
  • scoping review

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