Open Dialogue U.S. Expanding to Atlanta, GA

gradymemorialFour way partnership brings latest expansion of Open Dialogue U.S. to Atlanta

Atlanta-based donor makes it happen
A substantial donation by an Atlanta based donor has enabled The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care to give a generous grant to University of Massachusetts Medical School and Emory Medical School to bring Open Dialogue to Atlanta, extending by two years its original three-year grant to adapt the well established Finnish model for use in the U.S.




New 2-year pilot at Grady Memorial Hospital
The Atlanta pilot project is the second to be rolled out by the UMass research team led by Drs. Doug Ziedonis (principal investigator) and Mary Olson with grant funding from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care (EXCELLENCE).Beginning in March 2016, Drs. Robert Cotes and Keith Wood at Emory Medical School will partner with the UMass team to implement the Open Dialogue approach at Grady Memorial Hospital and recruit and provide clinical care to 20-24 participating individuals and their families.

These leaders recognize the need for better, recovery-oriented approaches that engage individuals to be full participants in their care and recovery. Currently, only about 20% of people who are hospitalized actually connect with their first regularly scheduled outpatient appointment.




What is Open Dialogue?
Open Dialogue is an approach to acute psychiatric crises developed by Jaakko Seikkula, Birgitta Alakare, Jukka Aaltonen and their multi-disciplinary team at Keropudas Hospital in Tornio, Finland. This psychosocial intervention has two components: (1) a community-based, integrated treatment system that engages families and social networks as creative partners in the recovery process, and (2) a distinct and unique form of dialogues within open psychiatric meetings. The approach has been effective in reducing symptoms of psychosis, leading to fewer and shorter hospitalizations, reduced neuroleptic medication dosage, greater improvements in functioning and improved likelihood of employment.


Shorter training time, proven fidelity guide
Building on the original EXCELLENCE-funded research and the first U.S. pilot project at Advocates, Inc. in Massachusetts, the initial core training period will be shortened from the usual 3 years to a more manageable 4 months with ongoing supervision for the two years of the project. If the outcome data and program implementation from this project is effective, nationwide adoption of the Open Dialogue approach will be more attractive and more viable than ever before.


The project will also benefit from the user-friendly fidelity guide “The Key Elements of Dialogic Practice in Open Dialogue: Fidelity Criteria” (Olson, Seikkula, & Ziedonis) which has gained international credibility and application since its publication in 2014. Agencies in Europe are now using this and other tools developed in the first three years of the EXCELLENCE grant to enhance their existing programs and projects. The Atlanta pilot will further hone and improve these implementation guides and increase our understanding of integrating Open Dialogue into established community programs.


End goal: great care, covered by health insurers
Thanks to the commitment of Emory’s Chair of Psychiatry, Dr. Mark Rapaport, Grady’s Chief of Psychiatric Services, Dr. Grayson Norquist and the Deans of UMass and Emory medical schools to bring the Open Dialogue approach to their community, those institutions will make substantial contributions for the research and clinical services for this project as well as the use of their facilities and infrastructure needed to measure and share the findings and experience of the Atlanta implementation. Establishing the evidence base for this model will make for easier adoption in other communities and help health insurers to recognize and cover the cost of Open Dialogue services.


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7 Responses

  1. Great to hear about your project – good luck and I hope you have a great time developing your work together. I would also like to say, “welcome”. As you probably know, there are Open Dialogue projects here in Vermont as well as in Massachusetts and New York. I hope that you will find time to join our 3rd annual “Gathering” next summer, to be held somewhere in Massachusetts.

  2. I am a person who is suffering from a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder for 3 years. I am very interested in your work. Do you implement the program in your area?

  3. We are very inspired by your work
    I am working with a non-profit in Sacramento
    To bring open Dialogue services to this area
    Please send all info on training and implementation
    And curriculum for our staff to me
    Eric Buck, MFT

  4. I am amidst training the trainers program in Helsinki. I am looking to collaborate and pursue teaching full-time Open Dialogue. I want to join other Open Dialogue practitioners and contribute to making Open Dialogue an accessible, free, and nationwide and global practice. It makes more sense than any other treatment approach.

  5. My son suffers from schizophrenia. I am very interested in the Open Dialogue treatment for him. He is intelligent and respectful. Please let me know if this treatment is available. We live in Atlanta. He is 24 years old.

  6. My daughter experienced a substance induced psychotic disorder in November 2016. Her doctors have had her in antipsychotics ever since. She had no previous mental illness prior. She feels trapped by these drugs and is increasingly having more episodes Please help us!!! We live in the Atlanta area.

  7. Hello folks/Victor,
    I’m looking to identify sites that are currently using Open Dialogue and am having a challenge identifying those. Is there a list or can others share the locations?

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