Update from our Coastal West Country site 

Fieldwork with families and staff involved with Peer-Supported Open Dialogue (POD) continues in our coastal West Country site. At the same time, we have begun to take stock of what we have learned so far and to do some preliminary analysis. This summer Liana and Bethan produced a report on key themes emerging from interviews with 30 staff and people using services. The report captures aspects of POD participants valued most, the challenges of implementing the model in the existing mental healthcare system, and recommendations of both staff and families for improving the POD service. 

Staff member: ‘This sense of feeling like you’re being pushed through– people can feel that. They can feel the desire to discharge you and the anxiety we feel about caseloads and waiting lists, and the need for them to comply with that and make progress and come out the other end. Whereas Open Dialogue doesn’t demand that. You find yourself… sitting there with people in the present moment much more easily, being alongside them and with them.’

Pod participant: Being able to talk to my support worker in that environment without judgement, knowing that if I was struggling or if I was going off on one or going too far, [my POD practitioners] would bring me back. That is what helped. Then my support got better because I dropped my guard…

The report has been shared with key stakeholders within the Trust who are empowered to apply findings to improve practice and service design.


Update from our London site

Our London-based team continues to practise Open Dialogue within an inner city Trust and to conduct interviews and participant observation with staff and people using services. Alongside their clinical ethnography, they are researching how Open Dialogue fits in with psychotherapeutic pathways already well established in the institution and conducting archival research on the historical antecedents of POD in the local area. Interviews with staff are helping them understand reasons for high staff turnover and the challenges of making POD a part of the NHS’s community mental health transformation in this site. 


Collaborative research & writing

The APOD project is now in its final year and looking ahead towards Autumn 2023, when we are planning to hold a big end-of-project event (watch this space!). In the meantime, the APOD team is working together to produce papers, art projects and conference presentations that showcase their research findings and participant experiences of POD. We can’t wait to share them with you!


How you can get involved 

Follow us on Twitter @APOD_UK or visit our new website (anthropology-opendialogue.org) to subscribe to our newsletter. 

Reach out to us via Twitter or email (soasapod@gmail.com) if you’re interested in learning more about our project or about Open Dialogue in the UK! We’d love to hear from you.