Rachel (Rai) Waddingham is an Open Dialogue Practitioner, international trainer and has experience of creating, establishing and managing innovative peer support-based projects in a range of contexts, including: developing Voice Collective, a London-wide project supporting children, young people and families who hear voices, see visions or have other similar experiences; Introducing and embedding ‘Hearing Voices Groups’ as peer support opportunities within prisons and secure forensic mental health hospitals; Developing networks of support for facilitators of Hearing Voices and Paranoia groups.
Each of these projects involved building capacity in statutory organisations, encouraging collaboration with NGOs and other local resources and supporting the implementation of values-based practice. Rai also supported the development of the first UK Open Dialogue Team to work in the NHS crisis situations through to recovery, both working within the team as a practitioner and supporting the inclusion experts by experience within the Open Dialogue teams.
Rai is a leading figure in the ‘survivor’ movement, blending the knowledge gained from lived experience with that of practice. Prior to completing the 3-year Open Dialogue training in London, she had over 10 years of experience in facilitating dialogic spaces (including peer support groups and reflective practice spaces). As a trainer, Rai has facilitated courses and workshops in many countries, including: USA, Italy, Australia, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Prague, Slovenia, Israel and France. She is a sessional lecturer on Canterbury Christ Church University’s Mental Health Nursing course and London South Bank University’s MSc in Clinical Psychology and Mental Health, covering topics such as psychosis, trauma, dissociation, self-harm and relationships with medication. Rai is also currently reading a PhD in survivor knowledge at Nottingham Trent University.
Rai is the Chair of the English Hearing Voices Network and Vice Chair of the UK chapter of International Society of Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis.
Rai is passionate about nurturing ethical and creative spaces that can respond to people’s crises – honouring the wisdom gained through personal experience and supporting people and their social networks to navigate their way through difficult times.