Peers and Open Dialogue

  • When
    December, 11 2020
    6:00 pm CET
  • Where
    Online conversation
    Zoom - Webinar

As Open Dialogue has been adopted into mental health care in communities around the world, peers have been increasingly recognized as an integral part of the team. However, their roles, titles, and training have been part of an evolving conversation. In this Town Hall we will explore this dialogue with peers from the Netherlands, Finland, the U.K., and Ireland, and a reflecting team from Finland and Israel.





Rai Waddingham

Having spent years thoroughly ‘mad’ for many reasons, I found a sense of myself through my connections with others in the survivor movement (most notably the Hearing Voices Movement, but it also includes Mad Pride, Mad Chicks and so many other unnamed initiatives that involved people with lived experience of distress, diagnosis and/or coercion gathering together in an atmosphere of solidarity and mutual support). I learned how to ‘be’ with others through these movements – how to bear, witness and honour the complex realities of others as I learned to honour my own. Through the London Hearing Voices Project at Mind in Camden, I was able to design, develop and manage a range of projects working with people who hear voices or have related experiences of all ages (children, young people and adults) in different settings (community, hospital and prison). Each of these projects were founded on the values of peer support and informed by lived experience. I trained as an Open Dialogue practitioner on the Open Dialogue UK 3-year training in London and have practiced in the OD UK clinic and with the first UK Open Dialogue team to combine crisis and community care (Canterbury, Kent). 

As part of Dialogue (R)Evolution, I have co-designed and delivered the first Open Dialogue foundation training I am aware of that is a 50/50 partnership between lived and professional experience. Practising and supporting the development of Open Dialogue through a lived experience/survivor lens has involved many challenges – but feels to me like a welcome development as the Open Dialogue approach evolves in different contexts. I am an international trainer and, in response to these covid-times, set up an ethical online learning community – Growing Pearls. I still remain committed to the survivor movement and Hearing Voices Movement. I’m Chair of the English Hearing Voices Network and Vice-Chair of ISPS UK. I’m currently in my 2nd year of a PhD at Nottingham Trent University on survivor knowledge and survivor organising. Most importantly I am mum to a wonderfully creative and energetic warrior child – Thea.

Rai’s website: 

Growing Pearls Learning Community –

Dialogue (R)Evolution: 



Martijn Kole

Martijn Kole is one of the founders of Enik Recovery College, and a peer leader in the Netherlands. He is one of the leading persons in the Dutch peer-supported open dialogue movement. In his opinion there can be no real system change without a radical dialogical approach and a strong peer-support movement to change the powerbalance.


Nuala Kenny

I am a survivor of interventions by psychiatry. Having witnessed so many people in my life who have not been so lucky, to call themselves survivors of these interventions; I was drawn to this area of work. I am a shaker and a mover and a think tank of ideas about how we could try different methods. I have been working as a Peer Support Recovery Worker on the ground on a Community Mental Health Team and as a facilitator on an Open Dialogue team in Bantry, West Cork, Ireland. I am passionate about nature and dream of a world where we can all live and work in symbiosis regardless of what has happened to us. My previous background is in Veterinary Nursing, Naturopathy/Nutrition, Growing food and in Cooking Nourishing Meals. Someday I hope to set up a 100% peer run, holistic space for people to just be, and to explore where they want to go. I would love to combine all these elements and more and offer what is so lacking for people when it comes to mental distress.


Hannele Mäkiollitervo

Hannele Mäkiollitervo is a peer specialist from Tornio, Finland, and currently she is involved in training and research processes in Western Lapland health care district. Hannele has studied Leadership Psychology at University of Lapland and graduated as Master of Administrative Sciences, M.Sc. (Admin). In master’s thesis she studied peer-training in Western Lapland Finland /Open Dialogue context. 


Matthew Weadon

Matthew is dedicated to practicing and advocating human responses to mental distress. He works primarily as an existential psychotherapist, is a trainee psychologist and identifies as a peer with lived experience when facilitating Open Dialogue. Matthew has trained with Open Dialogue Approach UK and the NHS Peer-supported Open Dialogue program. He is currently conducting PhD research in peer experiences of delivering Open Dialogue and developing an Open Dialogue informed private service in Bristol, England.


Reflecting team:


Mia Kurtti

Mia Kurtti is a nurse, MSc, Family Therapy and Open Dialogue trainer and supervisor. She has been working in mental health services as a nurse in Western Lapland, Finland since 2002 with individuals and their networks. Mia has been a trainer on many international Open Dialogue/Collaborative therapy training programs.


Lion Gai Meir

Lion leads the development of the lived experience department in Enosh, the Israeli Mental Health ‎Association. She is a graduate of the first Open Dialogue Israel course and volunteers as a board member in ‎‎”Open Dialogue Israel”.  Lion trains peer supporters and is a certified personal medicine coach. She ‎is also a lecturer about dissociation as a defense mechanism in continued trauma states during childhood.


Lila Anand

Lila Maya Hefer is a social worker (MSW), an author, Community Manager of Open Dialogue Israel, and a lived experience therapist. Lila accompanies families in times of crises as part of an OD team, and also in one-on-one meetings. Her greatest interest is exploring the Complex and engaging position of professionals with lived experience, and making Open Dialogue a public service in Israel. If you are curious about our work in Israel, we’d love to see you in the first Isralie conference for Open Dialogue, in January 2021:


This is the eight of a series of “Town Hall” online conversations exploring dialogical responses in the age of COVID made in collaboration with Mad in America and Open Excellence.