India Trialogue Meetings November 2016

What I believe to be the first Trialogue Meetings in India were held in the city of Pune on 23rd November and hilltop town of Lavasa on 26th, both in Maharashtra. Pune Trialogue was held as a culmination of a day workshop on Open Dialogue approaches to communication, with 32 people from 11 countries representing service user/peers, survivors, professionals and family members. The topic was an exploration of how Trialogue might be useful as a community engagement approach in mental health (psychosocial disabilities) communities in the various countries being represented.

What emerged from the discussions was the transferability of this approach to various communities and the perceived benefits it could bring to: balancing power amongst stakeholders; generating new ideas about what is or could be available as alternative approaches to working with psychosocial disabilities in the community; and that it could be easily incorporated into some existing community structures already happening. People felt that at present Trialogue could more readily be used in communities across the global south countries than for example, a more formalised approach to Open Dialogue as a process or intervention. The Trialogue Meeting in Lavasa took place as part of the INTAR (International Network for Treatment Alternatives to Recovery) India conference.

The topic was ‘Transcultural Dialogues on Psychosocial Disabilities’. Again this had multiple perspectives and about 30 participants from 15 countries in both the global south and north. Key issues raised and compared across cultures were: trauma and how professional don’t tend to engage so much with it; coercive and hierarchical psychiatry; and the predominance of a psychiatric understanding of mental health problems and approach to care. Although, there were cultural variations and institutional care was very diverse between nations, I found it fascinating that we all seemed to have similar experiences in relation to these areas. It seems we have more in common with each countries experience than not.

I am not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, though it certainly provides scope for a wider movement towards alternative approaches because of similar experiences and aspirations.At both meetings a number of people said they planned to explore further the possibility of using Trialogue as an approach in their communities, so watch this space!