About the Institute
A Brief History
In 2002, family therapist and Fulbright Scholar Mary Olson, Ph.D. began a research program on Open Dialogue in the United States in collaboration with Finnish psychologist and Open Dialogue developer Jaakko Seikkula, Ph.D. In 2011, as interest in this approach grew, Mary founded the Institute for Dialogic Practice – a state-of-the-art training facility that provides training in Dialogic Practice and Open Dialogue. Joining the Institute in its first year were Jaakko Seikkula, Ph.D, Belgian family therapist Peter Rober, Ph.D. and the late Markku Sutela, M.A., a psychologist at Keropudas Hospital in Tornio, Finland.
Courses at the Institute are taught by our core faculty, apprentice trainers, and distinguished guest lecturers.
In addition to our training programs, the Institute for Dialogic Practice provides clinical services to individuals, couples, families and groups at our office in New York City.
Special Projects: New Directions in Dialogic Practice
The Persephone Project
Mary Olson, Ph.D. & Nazlim Hagmann, M.D.
In adolescence, girls are more likely to get depressed than boys. Depression can appear as social withdrawal, eating problems, being bullied or becoming a bully, unsafe sexual behavior, academic struggles, drugs, suicide attempts, cutting, and social-media immersion. The Persephone Project emphasizes responding to these signs as early as possible, as well as involving the family and social network. In a society that overvalues autonomy, we believe in forming a web of support. Central to the process is listening to — and fostering a dialogue with — the girl or young woman so that she can feel heard, respected, and validated. Individual therapy, family-school collaboration, and medication can be added when necessary. We have extensive experience working in college and university mental heath settings, adolescent inpatient psychiatry, emergency and crisis services, and private practice.
Jaakko and Mary, together with Douglas Ziedonis, M.D., M.P.H., Chairman and Professor of Psychiatry, led the first Open Dialogue research program, which took place at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts. The document, “The Key Elements of Dialogic Practice in Open Dialogue: Fidelity Criteria” (Olson, Seikkula, & Ziedonis, 2014) can be downloaded here. It has been translated into 10 languages.
The Institute for Dialogic Practice is committed to maintaining a diverse community in an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation of differences. The Institute for Dialogic Practice does not discriminate in its educational and employment policies on the bases of race, color, creed, religion, national/ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, size, age, or with regard to the bases outlined in the Veterans Readjustment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The two-year Open Dialogue training I went to in Northampton (or Haydenville) under the instruction of Mary Olson, Ph.D., was the best training I have had the privilege of attending. The realization that my job is the creation of context in which dialogue is generated, rather than “fixing” anyone or anything resulted in both increased confidence and lessened anxiety. In my work and in my life, I now relax as a listener and have developed a level of patience which I cherish. Still, there is more to do, but the doors to Open Dialogue remain open.
Andrea Moynagh, M.A.
Level II Graduate – IDP
Director of Family Services