About Dialogic Practice
Dialogic Practice emphasizes listening and responding to the whole person in a context – rather than simply treating his or her symptoms. In psychiatric settings, this is accomplished primarily through a treatment meeting, or Open Dialogue. Arising from the influence of the philosophical writings of Mikhail Bakhtin on systemic family therapy, Dialogic Practice can also be effectively applied to more ordinary couple, group, and family therapy, as well as community work in schools.
This conversation, or dialogue, is not “about” the person, but is instead a way of “being with” the person and living through the situation together. Referred to as “Withness Practices” by Tom Anderson, M.D., this process mitigates the sense of isolation and distance that a crisis can produce and gives the person at the center of the dialogue greater voice and agency. Ultimately, this allows them to participate more meaningfully in both the conversation and the resulting decisions about their own lives.
After eliciting the person’s point of view at the meeting outset, there is typically a back-and-forth exchange between this person and the therapists both to develop a more lucid way of expressing the situation and to create a shared language. The voice of each participant is then woven into this conversation to create a new fabric of meaning and engagement to which everyone contributes.
“Dialogic process is a humane way of working with people in distress as well as those who care about them. It does not need to replace any techniques – it enhances other approaches. Whereas in other practices the “therapeutic alliance” is something that may be valued, it can be taken for granted. Dialogic process puts a focus on that alliance and this way it enriches all approaches.’
Sandra Steingard, M.D.
Level II Graduate – IDP
Medical Director, The Howard Center
“Best Doctors in America,” 2003 onward.