Mary Olson, Ph.D. is a family therapist and the founding Director of the Institute for Dialogic Practice in Massachusetts. As a Senior Fulbright Scholar she traveled to Finland in 2001 she discovered Open Dialogue, practiced by the mental health team at Keropudas Hospital in Tornio, Finland.  Mary is currently collaborating with founder, Jaakko Seikkula, to bring Open Dialogue to the US.

We met Dr. Olson at her office in East Hampton, Massachusetts. She let us know that one of the most important skills needed when working with someone who is experiencing an extreme state is to “drop the clinical gaze”. She mentions that it is key to build a relationship with the affected individual and not to be looking for a diagnosis.  As Dr. Olson said it’s a sense of ‘with-ness’ rather than ‘about-ness’– of being with rather than doing to that is so powerfully effective.

I left her interview thinking that these high-touch / low-tech solutions are the tools we have left behind as we have become more and more mesmerized by the brilliance of our technological wizardry.

6 Responses to “Interview with Mary Olson: Open Dialogue in the US”

  1. Vivian Fulk

    Excellent. I wish my brothers that were both diagnosed with schizophrenia 40 years ago had this. One is passed away from a brain aneurism and the other is in a retirement home in Miami. And I, their little sister am intelligent to a fault in mind but have feared my genetics my entire life. The best therapy I have tried, and I have tried many, is Holotropic Breathwork. But at 55, I have finally accepted that post menopause, I am more sane than I realized all my life. But this method sounds great. I hope doctors will try it! Thanks for bringing these alternative therapies to light. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. Rossa Forbes

    Dropping the clinical gaze. “With-ness rather than about-ness. It may take time, more time than many of us would like to spend, but it works.

  3. Sharon Rosen Lopez

    Hello. I read about and am wondering if Open Dialogue is offered in the US..and if so, where? Thank you!

  4. adam

    After watching your ted talk I felt relief that I wasn’t alone but having read all of the blog it finishes a few years ago and what I’d like to know is if Adam is ok?

    • Phil borges

      Adam is doing much better. Have you seen our film CRAZYWISE? You can see it by going to the and registering for the town hall event. In short he is doing much better.


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