Academy of Professional Dialogue Inaugural Meeting

At the Inaugural Meeting of the UK Academy of Professional Dialogue in July I had a really great day with thirteen others including Peter Garrett (who co-founded Dialogue with David Bohm) and Jane Ball, both co-founders of the Academy and Directors of Dialogue Associates.

You can read my main page about Bohm Dialogue here.

I was made a member of the Academy and look forward to further developments and engagements.  Of course much was discussed but when I got home there was one thing I hadn’t thought of, perhaps it was too obvious.  So I asked Peter on the members online forum – about measuring outcomes. ie. how do we know if a Dialogue was a success? This is Peter’s reply, reposted with his permission:

“A good question! I think it all depends on the situation. You may be using Dialogue as a research methodology, in which case collectively learning about the current situation and what to do about it may be the measure. If you were aiming to build from a group of individuals into a team, then a better understanding of each other and the common purpose may be the measure. Or it may be a cultural change situation where the relevant thing may be a clearer recognition of the tacit ‘rules-in-use’ and evidence of changing them. Common to all of these would be deeper awareness, stronger participation, better respect and a greater openness and sense of potential. Generally I aim for a series of Dialogues, rather than a single event, so that the development can be measured in terms of progress from one Dialogue to the next.”

This final point is particularly useful as it favours a more organic approach, whereby a community is assumed or established and encouraged to flourish over time.

Some photos of the Inaugural Meeting:

In 2018 I’ll be starting a two year project in Sheffield around Mindfulness and Dialogue to strengthen links among the UK Autistic communities, particularly to improve autistic people’s independent living and employability.  In order to nurture this, at the Academy’s The World Needs Dialogue! Annual Conference, I will be leading the theme around Autism and the Self.  The project is in partnership with Sheffield Autism Research Lab (at Uni of Sheff Psychology dept), Jane Ball on behalf of the Academy, who has kindly agreed to take part in some form and other partners including Sheffield Autistic Society, SOHAS  and CMLE.  As a loose introduction to this major project, I am convening and co-facilitating a Dialogue of Autism professionals and students next month (please see flier below). There are some places still available and if you know anyone working or studying in the field, I would be grateful of you could let them know and/or email me at or Liz Milne at

There’s a new Twitter account for the project @autismdialogue

Autism Dialogue ShARL University of Sheffield
Click for enlargement


Usually a seminar provides the opportunity for individuals to convene and share common knowledge and understanding and hear about new developments in the field, usually with an agenda in place. Bohm Dialogue is a free exchange of ideas and information without an agenda and provides the opportunity to examine preconceptions and prejudices among peers by open conversation with active listening.

From my perspective, Autism brings into question the very nature of self and society. As an autistic person working in autism, student of autism and autism service-user, in just three years since diagnosis, I’ve seen a very wide range of definitions, criteria and ideas, some changing regularly, some driven by factors such as culture. It’s our objective to facilitate a Dialogue between professionals and students and support a greater common and more dynamic understanding. This one-off Dialogue on the 21st was arranged prior to organising a major programme, to begin in 2018.

Future Dialogue sessions will include autistic and non-autistic people from different cultures and sectors of society, and autistic people exclusively as well, and aims to increase common understanding and improve lives of autistic people.

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