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  • "Salon" on Attachment in Urbana

    Michael Trout, Director of The Infant-Parent Institute in Champaign, opened his home to a “Salon on Attachment”.

    A "Salon", according to the meagre literature on the subject (see Manthey, M. “A talk for all times”, Nursing Forum 45(4), October-December, 2010), is a focused conversation among intelligent people with shared interests, usually with food, usually in someone's home. For two years, such a Salon, focused on attachment. We gathered in my home, in the evening, and shared some simple food (and dessert). The real point of the evening was to share ideas, worries, experiences, research and other thoughts elicited by the core question: "What is on your mind this evening about attachment?".

    I learned about the idea from an elderly nurse (the founder of primary care nursing in this country, whom I sought out over coffee in Minneapolis), who started a Salon on nursing in her home some years ago. It has remained robust, always inviting new ideas and new people, and has inspired the development of other salons on nursing around the country.

    Ours was not a case consultation. I was not the leader of the conversation. We did not give each other advice. It was not a book study. Everyone took responsibility to stay focused, keep whining to a minimum, keep talk about broken systems to a minimum, and keep the conversation real, elevated, and on-point. There was minimal structure (based on “circle” concepts) to help us get going, and to help us close the evening.

    Heterogeneity was encouraged; we did not wish to just be a choir, singing in one voice. We welcomed a few graduate students (since it seemed likely that youthful thought—even without the benefit of experience—could add greatly to the conversation), shrinks of all kinds, academics, and people in related professions (public health, occupational therapy, etc.).

    There was, of course, no cost. We never exceeded a dozen, in number. And it was open; if you happened to be passing through Urbana on the night of a Salon, you were invited.

    We tried this Salon for two academic years, with mixed success.  We had some remarkable conversations, with many attendees driving from the furthest western and southern parts of the state for the evening event.  Many of us found it scintillating to share soup and sophisticated-but-relaxed conversation about tough and intricate clinical/developmental ideas, around the fireplace or on the back porch. The problem was that it never seriously caught on with local clinicians and academics.  Mention of the Salon idea is being kept on the website only to inform--in case someone thinks the idea might be a viable one for your own community, or in case it becomes feasible to try again here in our own little town. Contact Mr. Trout at for information.

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