Bristol Hearing Voices Network

Hearing Voices Network: A New Approach

Hearing voices has been regarded by psychiatry as 'auditory hallucinations' and in many cases a symptom of schizophrenia. However, not everyone who hears voices has a diagnosis of schizophrenia. There are conflicting theories from psychiatrists, psychologists and voice hearers about why people do hear voices. Although the Hearing Voices Network is open to many diverse opinions we accept the explanation of each individual voice hearer.

Traditionally, the usual treatment for Voice Hearing has been major tranquillisers, administered to reduce the experience. However, not everyone responds to this treatment. There are some mental health professionals who now work with people who hear Voices using talking therapies, and exploring the meaning of the voices. Although this is not yet ‘the norm’, this practice is increasing. As the improvement in individuals who are encouraged to talk about their voices becomes more apparent, an increasing number of MH professionals are beginning to understand that the key to understanding voices lies in the ‘content’ of the voices.

The aim of meeting as a group is to support one another by talking freely together about our voice hearing experiences, and support anyone seeking to understand, learn, cope and grow from them in their own way. We recognise that confidentiality is a very important issue in order to create a safe atmosphere for people to be able to talk freely in the group. We all understand that what is said in the group stays there and will not be discussed elsewhere. We hope that all members of the group feel comfortable enough to talk about their experiences, but we believe that everyone has the right to be silent and should not feel under any pressure to speak if they do not want to.

Structure of BHVN meetings

The current structure of the group is that an open round is started, where everyone takes it in turns to say whatever they want to, but members can choose to pass if they don't feel like talking. Its not a therapy group so members have the right to be silent. Members tend to say how their week has been, and or talk more specifically about their experiences of Voice Hearing. The lead facilitator for the group is Don Swift who shares as much as anyone else during the opening round. It has been agreed that the facilitator is not there to lead the discussions, but rather enable group members to have the opportunity to use the group for support around the issues involved. They might act as a timekeeper, reminding members of the general ground rules, and trying to keep the discussion focussed on the issues involved. Refreshments are provided.

No referral necessary: just turn up!

Download our latest leaflet (MS Word doc):
Part one and Part two

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