Yasmin Ishaq

About Yasmin Ishaq

Yasmin Ishaq has been a social worker and psychotherapist in the UK public sector for 34 years, and has been involved in the development of Open Dialogue in the UK.

Areas of interest

  • Open Dialogue
  • Social Work

More Info

Yasmin Ishaq is a social worker/psychotherapist who has worked in the UK public sector for over 34 years. She has worked in statutory mental health services for the past 28 years, and in management roles for the past 19 years. During her career, Yasmin has been involved in developing new initiatives, including starting the Early Intervention in Psychosis Service in East Kent in 2005 and the primary care mental health social work service in 2015. From 2016 – 2021, Yasmin led the first standalone NHS Open Dialogue service in the UK, and evidenced that the approach could be developed, sustained, and provide positive outcomes for individuals and families accessing specialist mental health services.

The Kent Open Dialogue team was the first team in the UK to operationalise offering continuity of care using dialogical principles and network meetings to understand what has happened and what may be helpful to recovery.

Open Dialogue is a compassionate approach to mental distress that was developed in Western Finland in Lapland over the past 30 years. It involves working with the whole family or network, rather than just the individual.

In the 1980s, psychiatric services in Western Lapland were in a poor state and they had one of the worst incidences of the diagnosis of schizophrenia in Europe. Now they have the best documented outcomes in the Western World. For example around 75% of those experiencing psychosis who were treated with an Open Dialogue Approach returned to work or study within two years, and only 20% of them are still taking anti-psychotic medication at a two year follow up.

Remarkably, Open Dialogue is not an alternative to psychiatric services, it is the psychiatric service in Western Lapland.

Open Dialogue has been taken up in a number of countries around the world, including much of the rest of Scandinavia, Germay, some parts of Ireland and several States in America.

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