I was Bert Karon’s grateful supervisee starting five years ago. I arranged to begin meeting with him, then went on vacation with a very worrying concern, a situation therapists tend to dread greatly. I called Bert from my car and asked if I could come see him en route. He said “Of course” and gave me very sound advice that enabled me to settle the threat and my worry from 300 miles away. That was the first of many hours of empowering, clarifying conversations.
Dr. Karon’s ideas inspired and are embodied in a great deal of Open Dialogue, the network approach that appears to resolve about two thirds of what we call ‘schizophrenia’. As far as I can tell, a key event in Dialogic relationships is that the professionals fall in love a little bit with people they are working with. This can happen even when a team member has a negative experience. A longtime dialogic practitioner said, “When a person does violence toward me in Dialogue I say, ‘thank you for that experience’”. I believe this was Bert’s idea also. He genuinely loved people even when we were trying, difficult, and in extremis.
Dr. Karon addressed our incoherence and hypocrisy with great prescience and clarity. He could do this while remaining patient, hopeful, and forgiving. We can honor his work and ideas by respecting, listening, accepting, and loving one another, even our differences, and never giving up speaking truth to power.