Hearing Voices approach
Working with people who hear voices and other altered or extreme states
Hearing Voices is a common human experience. People experience a range of different voice hearing realities, some of which can be difficult, overwhelming or distressing. Others find they live well with voices and find meaning and take important life messages form what the voices say, who or what they represent and how thy can help a person to make sense of their lives. Hearing Voices work at Humane Clinic is offered with the intention to provide an alternative environment and approach to voices hearers to work through and make sense of their voice hearing experiences outside of the mental health systems approaches.
Working with the hearing voices approaches, developed as part of the international hearing voices movement (LINK), Humane Clinic supports voice hearers to access an alternative to pathologizing, diagnosis and medication-based responses that are offered by mental health services. This alternative framework for understanding and making sense of voices understanding voice hearing as a understandable response to life experiences and not an aberrant symptom of mental illness.
‘This approach contends that people hearing voices (hereafter referred to as ‘VH’ for ‘Voice Hearers’) can learn to cope with their voices and benefit from psychological and social interventions. It is based on three central tenets, that the phenomena of hearing voices is: a) more prevalent in the general population than was previously believed, b) a personal reaction to life stresses, whose meaning or purpose can be deciphered and, c) best considered a dissociative experience and not a psychotic symptom (though it can sometimes occur in the context of psychotic symptoms, such as delusions; Moskowitz & Corstens, 2007). In addition to emphasising understanding the purpose or meaning of the voices, a specific treatment model for working directly with a person’s voices – emphasising their dissociative nature – has been developed by adapting the Voice Dialogue method (Stone & Stone, 1989) for working with VH.’ (Corstens, Esher and Romme, 2008)
The Hearing Voices movement has been led by the wisdom of people who hear voices as a common human experience. experts by experience have become the teachers of their supporters in making sense of meaningful human realities. The hearing voices movement is made up of voice hearers and professionals who take non pathologizing approaches. Volumes of research supports the evidence based for the hearing voices approach, which is now consider a genuine alternative or addition to any other supports a person is engaged in.
The Hearing Voices approach underpins the non pathologising perspectives that place the person in control of their life. This can be best summed up by the invaluable alternative:
“An important question in mental health shouldn’t be “What’s wrong with you?” but, rather, “What’s happened to you?”
― Eleanor Longden
Humane Clinic has facilitated hearing voices groups for many years and currently partners with Just Listening Community to host a weekly hearing voices group, as well as offering 1-1 psychotherapy including facilitating of the Maastricht hearing voices interview (LINK?)
Hearing Voices Groups
Humane Clinic Hearing Voices groups are intended to be unstructured groups of mutuality, acceptance and revitalisation in sharing constructs, narratives and connection towards empowerment and justice in people’s lives. The groups are facilitated by a voice hearer and co-facilitator.
Drawing on the three-phase model of transformation in Hearing Voices groups (Hornstein, Robinson Putnam, & Branitsky, 2020) the SNG’s seek to provide an environment for the phases of discovery, reframing and change.
The groups are intended to provide places for safe and hopeful enquiry. The groups can be attended by any person and should not be considered the domain of health professionals teaching or assessing a person in distress. Rather the groups are a place to recognise the individual and community healing that can occur through the courageous sharing and witnessing of personal human narratives and meaning.
The Maastricht Hearing Voices Interview
The Maastricht Hearing Voices Interview is a collaborative journey between voice hearer and supporter. The interview supports the voice hearer to explore and discover their own experience and can create support the person to develop some emotional distance from the voices. This information gives clues to ‘treatment’ plan and can be an introduction to psychotherapy work for the voice hearer.
The interview consists of the following sections:
The nature of the experience
Characteristics of the voices
Personal history of voice hearing
What the voices say
Explanations for the origin of the voices
Impact of the voices on way of life
Balance of the relationship
Coping strategies: cognitive / behavioural / physiological
Experiences in childhood
Make a booking for a Hearing Voices group.