Why Collaborative and Dialogical Practices?


Meeting the Challenges of Today

“How can our practice have relevance for people’s everyday lives in our fast-changing world, what is this relevance, and who determines it?

We live in a fast-changing world that is characterized by global and local shifts–social, cultural, political, and economic transformations as well as the influence of the internet and media on the decentralization of information, knowledge, and expertise. 

Equally important, there is an international spotlight on democracy, social justice, and human rights; the importance of peoples’ voices, singular or plural; and the need for collaboration. People around the world increasingly want input into what affects their everyday lives and their futures; they have lost faith in rigid institutions and practices that treat them as numbers or categories that ignore their humanity or worse yet, violently violate it. They demand systems and services that are more respectful of them and their needs and that are flexible enough to meet their needs as they define them. 

These shifts, the unavoidable complexities inherent in them, and the effects they have on our individual and communal lives and on our world press practitioners to reassess how we understand the world around us, our clients, and our roles as practitioners. Collaborative practice is a response that shares common ground with a growing international community of practitioners.

At the heart of collaborative-dialogue is the practitioner’s philosophical stance: an attitude and posture that invites a particular kind of relational and conversational process leading to people developing possibilities where none seemed to exist before. The stance challenges expert/non-expert dichotomies and hierarchical structures enabling the creation of potentials for generative change. 

 – Harlene Anderson

The collaborative approach is based on an ideological shift in the way we think about language and knowledge. It is relating and conversing in a manner that includes a way of thinking with, talking with, acting with, and responding to the people with whom we meet in our professional activities.

The Master of Arts degree in Collaborative and Dialogic Practices (CDP) will introduce social construction and CDP for those new to it and help those familiar with it to deepen their understandings and practices. Drawing on the works of thinkers and practitioners such as Mikhail Bakhtin, Hans-Georg Gadamer,Kenneth Gergen, Jean Francois Lyotard, Maurice Merleau-Ponty,  John Shotter,  Ludwig Wittgenstein, as well as Harlene Anderson,  Harry Goolishian,  Lynn Hoffman,  SheilaMcNamee,  Tom Andersen, and Jaakko Seikkula, it specifically focuses on relational constructionist understandings of language and meaning-making, polyvocality, transformative dialogue, and appreciative and future-oriented perspectives.

Who should participate?

Any professional with a bachelor’s degree in any of the social, human and health sciences. Although it emerges from the practice of family psychotherapy, today Collaborative and Dialogic Practices are applied in coaching, education, management, research, mediation, community building/development, organizational consulting, and any field in which the relational process is paramount to creating the kind of world in which we most want to live.

Benefits of participating