Family connecting through open dialogue

Why Open Dialogue Matters in Therapy

Open dialogue is a core concept in family therapy, as it brings family members as a support group for the patient and establishes a social network for families to bond. Open dialogue was initially a developing process for therapists to find the best treatment for those suffering from psychosis, a mental state where an individual loses touch with reality. Psychosis is often accompanied by schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and even alcohol, sleep deprivation, and drugs. However, as open dialogue developed over time, the concept became a way to integrate a form of “shared language” into the picture and bring together the patient and their families to help and understand one another.

What Open Dialogue Means, According to Studies

Many developmental psychologists describe the intimate relationship between parent and child and how the words, expressions, and emotions a parent communicates becomes a gradual voice internalized in the child. Words are spoken become the building blocks for that child’s complex, higher mental functions. In many cases, the meaning of words expressed arises within the dialogue. Our language, thoughts, and inner worlds are believed to be constructed entirely through interpersonal relationships rather than truths.

Studies such as ones found in the Psychiatry Research journal describe the family-orientated approach as an intervention technique, one that demonstrates positive outcomes for patients who have experienced some form of first-level psychosis. At the same time, studies like this show that a therapeutic dialogue can be sustained over long periods and remain positive in its results due to its approach’s effectiveness. So, what does it mean for a family seeking therapy? It means that through open dialogue and consistent therapeutic measures, healing can happen by establishing that support group for them and giving them a place to express their inner worlds and how they connect to the here and now.

What Open Dialogue Can Do For Your Family

Open dialogue hones in on the concept of interpersonal relationships and uses it as a healing method, and for therapists, transparency is critical. Open dialogue in family therapy sessions has numerous benefits and often promotes conversation rather than promoting changes directly. Open discussion is meant to be a transformative measure for patients, and families can benefit from this method by:

  • Learning About Their Inner Worlds: These inner worlds are often the crux of some of the most profound mental health problems people face, and learning through open communication can express inner truths unrecognized.
  • All Voices Accepted: For families facing inner conflicts, open dialogue helps to bridge the gaps between family members, and those feeling isolated and misunderstood can allow empathy and compassion to be taken in and become the core of their conversations.
  • Mindfulness of the Moment: Most often, the therapist won’t intervene in the conversation, and open dialogue works to allow the expression of emotions and thoughts of everyone involved. Therapists will only intervene by sensing emotions and being mindful of each person’s experiences.

For many therapists, open dialogue brings an excellent resource for families struggling to communicate. When interpersonal relationships are explored, family members can find common ground and compassion through listening and understanding.

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Helene A. Miller / And Other Providers
Family Psychiatry and Therapy brings compassion, understanding, and skilled care to patients throughout New Jersey. Our team of mental health professionals focuses on providing a positive and uplifting experience that aids our patients in facing life’s toughest challenges.