Open Dialogue

About Open Dialogue

This is a world-renowned treatment approach developed in Tornio, Finland, 30 years ago. Envisioned as a combination of family therapy and psychotherapy, it is now being used in hospitals, community healthcare settings, schools, offices, and government settings. It has proven effective in reducing hospitalization by up to 90%, and has brought in a democratic, non-directive, support network inclusive philosophy to therapy and notions of ill health.

Its primary goal was to address the needs of those in acute distress or affected with psychoses. OD helps individuals and families to cope with mental health issues by placing the family at the centre of the therapeutic process and works with caregivers, service providers and extended support networks to ensure decision-making is collaborative and transparent. Most of the decision making takes place through system-wide joint network meetings involving the person at the centre of concern along with their family members and the extended social network, mobilizing all the resources present within the community networks.

Families and social networks, while offering support, can engender communication patterns that contribute to a distorted understanding of one’s distress. It is not just in what is being said, but how it is responded to, that meaning develops.

OD works on these principles and by bringing family members and their support networks closer together develops a shared language that effectively expresses distress, leading to a deeper understanding of their own life situation beyond symptoms, with focus on the restoration of social and cultural life and in respect of human rights.

The course and learning is suitable to many professionals and is considered a complementary approach to other counselling approaches.

The trainers are very experienced, and you gain not only the benefit of their experience, but input from previous students of the foundation course (Professionals from The Banyan and BALM), who are now applying their learnings in practice, in a variety of settings.


Pina Ridente

is a registered psychiatrist/psychotherapist and a certified Open Dialogue practitioner and trainer (degree “Dialogical approaches in couple and family therapy”, Trainers Training 2016/2018, Dialogic Partners / University of Jyväskylä, Finland) with a considerable experience working with people experiencing psychosis and their families using dialogic approaches. Pina has 40 years work experience in the mental health Department of Trieste (Italy), community services promoting person-centred and rights based approaches in mental health. Pina is currently teaching OD in Italy, India and Brazil.

Nobuhiko Asai

The representative of International and Psychological Support Association (IPSA), open dialogue trainer, family therapist and trauma therapist in Japan. He finished the trainers training course in Finland and got the certificate that qualifies to act as responsible supervisor, trainer and psychotherapist for dialogical approach in couple and family therapy. IPSA has counselling offices in Tokyo and Osaka. He is interested in the approach through dialogue and focusing body sensation. 

Riitta Teittinen

Open dialogue trainer, psychiatrist and family therapist in Finland. Certified to act as responsible supervisor and trainer for dialogical approach in couple and family therapy. She has 20 years of experience in developing dialogic practice in public sector psychiatric organizations. She takes a special interest in psychotic experiences and using dialogic and embodied approaches in everyday practices.

Course information

BALM, in collaboration with Dr. Pina Ridente (Retired senior psychiatrist from the University of Trieste, Italy) organized the first basic training program in January 2019 for 11 mental health professionals from The Banyan. In the following years the course has been successfully delivered 2 years running. Now on the 4th year of the course, we are switching to fully online delivery, and are looking forward to students attending from around the world.

The course is a 6 month foundation course, running in 5 blocks of 4 weeks, with one week break in between.

  • You will acquire the basic elements of the OD approach and the foundation course would provide the tools to start to use the dialogic approach and practices in professional contexts (clinical-educational-social) and in everyday life; 
  • You will improve your skills to manage, facilitate, coordinate and lead teams and groups;
  • You will learn to use the tools of dialogue and dialogicity in complex situations;
  • You will improve your personal relationship communication skills.

2021/22 Course (5th November to 30th April)

For more more information including eligibility, course details and timetables, course pedagogy etc please download the information sheet:


BALM is facilitating the delivery of the course, however the trainers are all qualified to provide Open Dialogue training and will be signing the certificates for the course which are issued by BALM.

Pina Ridente’s degree certificate qualifies to act as a responsible supervisor, trainer and psychotherapist for the dialogic approach in couple and family therapy.

Number of spaces on the course

There are 40 places on the course.

Course fees

The total fees for the course are 100,000 INR for the 6 month programme.

The fee cost has been carefully considered. BALM is a not for profit organisation, and the running costs of the course need to be covered. Any income made above and beyond the cost of the course, will be utilised towards expanding our capacity building in mental health care, education and research in line with our philosophy.


As a not-for-profit, we are very much aware of those who may not be able to afford the fees at the full rate. We do not turn anyone away, so please apply in good faith and we will consider your individual application.

Scholarships are available for 20 places on the course and both Part- and Full-scholarships will be available. Each applicant will be assessed on a case by case basis and we encourage those who meet the following criteria to apply:

  • Employees of NGOs working in health, mental health or similar areas.
  • Persons from low resource settings
  • Students or Alumni of BALM

If you feel that you meet these criteria please apply for a BALM Scholarship complete the application form, for the course, and please contact us at