Open Dialogue trainees’ expectations of ‘shared concern’: An international focus group study

Niels Buus, Mie Leer, Kristof Mikes-Liu, Lisa Dawson, Merete Folkmann Pedersen, Rochelle Einboden, Andrea McCloughen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: Open Dialogue is an alternative approach to service provision for people experiencing mental health problems. Training and implementation of dialogical ways of working require that professionals disposition themselves as experts and ‘unlearn’ traditional therapeutic relations. This study explored trainees’ discussions of their expectations of Open Dialogue as they commence their training. Four focus groups, two in Australia and two in Denmark, were analysed thematically. We generated the theme ‘shared concern’ with four sub-themes: (1) ‘A democratising alternative’, (2) ‘Waiting and listening’, (3) ‘Acknowledging many kinds of expertise’ and (4) ‘Personal participation’. Rather than learning a therapeutic technique, ‘shared concern’ in dialogical practices emphasised a collaborative approach to manage ubiquitous uncertainty and a political commitment to addressing inequities in service delivery. This variance from usual reasons to undertake training has implications for course design and delivery that have yet to be considered. Practitioner points: The theme ‘shared concern’ was generated from across the focus groups, which was well aligned with the doxa of Open Dialogue Trainees emphasised their experience of Open Dialogue as a moral counterapproach to traditional healthcare with less emphasis on the actual psychotherapeutic practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-263
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Family Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • family therapy trainees
  • focus groups
  • open dialogue
  • qualitative research
  • thematic analysis
  • uncertainty

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