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.