Running a Hearing Voices Group

A Voices Hearer Facilitator’s Account

By John Exell

I help run a hearing voices group which I will describe, but first a brief introduction.

I am a voice hearer, diagnosed with suffering from Schizophrenia. Several years ago, I realised that the voices came from my mind, that they were my creation, my projection, dreams I had whilst awake. Previous to this, I thought that they came from other people. This realisation gave me almost complete mastery over my voices, and they gradually faded away. I still hear them when I am stressed, but am able to simply ignore them. They do not have much to say to me. The odd occasion when I am “ill”, I can get carried away by them again and start believing that they are real, but this does not last long. I try to take it very easy during these times.

Earlier this year, I contacted my local Mental Health Services to see if they had an “expert” on voices. I met a very able psychologist, who was just about to start a local hearing voices group, and she took me on as her co-facilitator in the group. We run it for about an hour and a half, once a fortnight, at the local Mind. Mind was chosen because it was not part of the NHS, less formal, less controlled. It is an open group. There is no commitment required on the part of the participants, apart from us two. It is not compulsory. It is only open to voice hearers or ex-voice hearers, apart from the psychologist, who as far as I know, does not hear voices. Apart from us two, there are about four other participants. We are open to more.

The openness and loose structure of the group seems to suit us all very well, it adds to the flow of the conversation. Participants say things about their voices etc. that they have never been able to say before to anyone, I think to me especially, being a service user and voice-hearer, they seem to trust me more. The psychologist, being also busy with other things, often cannot make the group, I often run it on my own, which I seem to do quite well. We also have a cigarette break half way through, we all smoke apart from one user and the psychologist, we have to go into another room to smoke, which the smokers all do together, and the group often continues there.

Apart from the psychologist, most of us know each other socially as well, and the group has deepened our relationships. It is a very friendly group. We usually start by asking everyone how they feel, how their fortnight has been, if anything is going on for them, etc. The psychologist and me, and sometimes others, add helpful comments etc. If I need to, I say how I am too. If some-one is a bit withdrawn, we make a point of getting them to talk somehow. If someone is going through a bad time, we spend a lot of time on that person, and let them talk a lot. Often this process takes up the whole group, with everyone talking, about voices and other problems. The psychologist and me know about techniques for dealing with voices, and these often come up in the conversation. Sometimes, the group has a more formal part to it, with the psychologist giving a sort of lecture, often using the “white board”, on voices or other aspects of schizophrenia. One of the main topics of conversation, apart from voices, is medication.

This seems to be the structure of our hearing voices group. It doesn’t sound much, but a lot is said, it is enjoyable and friendly, and I feel it is extremely helpful and sows many good seeds. The participants come back for more. Before my realisation about my voices that I mentioned at the beginning of this short piece, I attended a different hearing voices group as a participant, not a facilitator. This was extremely helpful, it got me to think in depth about my voices, and sowed the seeds which led to my realisation about my voices.

I must say that it was also largely due to my private Nutritional Treatment (taking large doses of selected vitamins and minerals) which led to my realisation about my voices. I am still on a low maintenance dose of anti-psychotics.

13 responses to “Running a Hearing Voices Group”

  1. Robyn

    Is there a Hearing Voices Group in Texas, USA? My mom needs to join one. Thanks.

  2. jenny

    Hi I’m new to this. I just found this space and I didn’t know the most appropriate place to plost this message.
    I dont know about Texas but we have a group in South Australia at the Mental Illness Fellowship South Australia MIFSA ‘Sound Minds’ at Wayville 1.30pm to 3pm every Thursday.www.mifsa.org 0882215160 This group offers safe enviroment of compassion and acceptance where people do not have to keep their experiance within themselves but have the opportunity to share and in sharing learn new skills or refreash old ones. This group has offered me the opportunity to move on to live beyond the voices. Theres no real hard and fast rules exept maybe to always treat yourself and othes with honesty and respects. We share experiances with others without trying to enforce them on them. How each person interprets their experiance is afected by their personal peception this often evolves but it is not our role to change this.

    I really hope you can find a group for your mum

    jenny

  3. Joni

    Robyn, What part of Texas does your mom live in ?

  4. Joni

    Robyn,
    What part of Texas does your mom live in ?

  5. gabby

    HI IM GABBY ….I REALIZED VOICES WERE REAL ABOUT PROBABLY ALMOST A YEAR AGO BUT STARTED TO HEAR THEM ABOUT 2YEARS AGO AND WAS I GUESS YOU CAN SAY OVERLOADED AND WENT INTO A BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CLINIC AROUND THE TIME I WAS OVERLOADED I THINK IT WAS IN JULY 2010 SOMETHING LIKE THAT WHERE SOME VOICES TRIED TO CONVINCE ME IT WASNT REAL AND OTHERS WOULD TELL ME IT WAS REAL AND TRY N KEEP ME CALM …I WOULD GET ALOT OF PERJECTIONS OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE WITHIN THE PEOPLE I KNEW AND TO BE HONEST IT WAS SCARY EVEN THE ONES THAT I SENSED CARING EMOTIONS FROM ….FROM WHAT IVE FELT ITS OUR ‘SOULS’ TRAVELING TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE SOME WE KNOW N SOME WE DONT BUT IF YOUR GOING THROUGH THIS FOR THE FIRST TIME DONT BE AFRAID BECAUSE YOU FEEL WHEN ITS SOMEONE YOU KNOW AND WHEN ITS A “STRANGER SOUL”. I WAS REALLY SCARED WHEN THIS FIRST STARTED AND IM BETTER NOW THAT I KNOW ITS REAL BUT I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE WHO KNOWS ABOUT THIS STUFF TOO (IN PERSON OR THE OLD FASHION WAY THROUGH EMAIL)NOT TO VALIDATE BUT TO FEEL NOT SO ALONE WITH THIS ALL THE TIME …ANYWAYS LOVE TO ALL N BE SAFE (ALSO WOULD LIKE TO KNOW SOME BETTER TIPS ON HOW TO BLOCK N SHARE DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES OF COMMUNICATION)

  6. Jeff

    Hi if you check back on this could you say something about the vitamins and supplements you have taken?

  7. Pentti Vihinen, Jankanraitti 12 A 3, 33560 Tampere, Finland

    20.6.2012 I have heard voices 55 years, I am not 60. Helsinki Group Women taught me that voices are such which hear by Romme´s vehicle. Marius Romme is old man in Holland, he has been professor in Limburg University. His woman Sandra Escher also work with these Romme´s vehicle things. Main purpose of using Rommje´s vehicle sentences heard in brain is to suffer target person many years, so that suffering put brain grow very much connections between brain cells. Those connections are neurones´ dendrites. When have much them, then is high intelligent. So reason use voices heard by Romme´s vehicle is to develop big group of people such that they have best brains in world. What then. Such who has brain cells connected to other brain cells tight, can do closing work. I have closed Finland, I did many years closing work in my home town main library. Marius Romme and his woman Sandra Escher from Holland traveled to my home town Tampere Finland and they visited my home. They got sauna experience in my home. They boss international organisation for voice hearing people which has name Intervoice. I was in Italy in international meeting where was group very intelligent people gathered to discuss voice hearing systems and to meet same type people from other Europe countries. I was there in meeting with psychologist Marja Vuorinen who live in Helsinki. She has give me wide teach about voice hearing things. Connection from voice worker´s Romme´s vehicle to target person´s Romme´s vehicle with thought sentences happen by USA knowledge satellite which is in space, so can reach to long distance by this electronical method. As you see, voices are not sickness, this is techical connection system used to contact so that not hear by ears. Vehicle put sentences to brain direct, vehicle is put into brain behind head. There in head can notice small place where that vehicle has been installed into brain. Romme´s vehicle contact happen by same type electricity as happen in every brain biologically, because thinking is very small electricity contacts in brain. Let´s talk by computer this more, write me by computer (or in envelope), here you get my contact: Pentti Vihinen

    Finland is democracy in north Europe between Sweden and Russia and this country belong to Europe Union and has money Euro. In Finland live five million people. My home town Tampere is place for 200 000 people in middle country. Here are very much lakes and very much fir forests. Nokia pocket telephones come from here. I have been newspaper editor and photographer. Now I have one year learnt use digital single lens reflex camera and I hobby photography. I like write because I have been professional writer in newspapers. So please put messages to me. I can write more text about voices, if my explain was not enough wide yet. And I can send by computer some photos from Tampere so that you see what here is. We had half year ago such winter that was very much snow. Now is nice summer with birds singing. I hope that people get know what this voice thing really is, not sickness. Pentti ===============

  8. AnaisNin

    John,
    I could relate very much to one particular part of your story. Knowing that the voices were from my own mind and not the dozens of people I thought they were coming from was truly the skeleton key that unlocked my soul. Thanks for sharing. I’m so very interested in starting a group in my area and believe I meet the criteria for a HVN group but have not heard back from Hearing Voices Network-USA. I first contacted the UK HVN but they said I needed to speak with USA. If anyone knows an alternative email address for HVN-USA I would greatly appreciate it. I tried to send another email through their “contact” section but that part seems to be down because it would not connect me to an address or message section. I know this is a very grassroots movement and I’m sure people are very busy with this exciting journey of bringing us out from the darkness. There is such a need in this area for this type of group and liberation from the medical community telling us what is going on in our own minds. They can be a help but also a barrier to thriving. Please, if anyone has recently started a group could you please let me know who to speak with at HVN? That would be great!

  9. Pamela Mae Milton

    I too am interested in starting up a HVN in Northern Ontario – Canada. I am the peer specialist for out ACT team and believe people need a forum to be open and honest about that is happening with their voices. I feel like if they share with staff it means an automatic increase in meds so they tend to hide this and suffer in silence. I believe that sharing, not only reduces the isolation we often feel but by sharing coping strategies people can support each other in their Recovery while feeling helpful.
    Who should I contact to get trained?

  10. Paulette Dare

    Need to find a hearing voices support group in sacramento California ,U.S. Much too much precious time has been lost for my son. I will never stop looking for an answer and/or help for him. Anyone know any info. For me?

  11. Tish Trimble

    I have a son , now 47, who is very much over sedated since, every time he told
    Drs. He was hearing voices, they would increase the drugs.
    I m just now learning about “voice hearing” I need to find help
    Groups but unfortunately live in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
    Can anybody point me in the right direction?

  12. Guy Masterman

    Hi 🙂

    I was recently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I met a voice hearer. This man has only known medication as a way to cope with the angry and threatening voice he hears. His family infomred me this is the case for many voice hearers in the KL area.

    I would like to start a Hearing Voices Group in KL city centre and would like to know how to go about this, as well as what support might be offered by Intervoice?

    Kind regards

    Guy

    PS: I attended a Talking With Voices course in 2012, which I found inspirational!

    🙂

  13. Hearing Voices Great Barrington (US)

    Here’s a recent addition to the Intervoice website that may be helpful: http://www.intervoiceonline.org/4002/support/groups/planning.html

    The New South Wales network has a lot of good information on their site!
    http://www.hvnnsw.org.au … including a manual on how to start a group which a lot of people have found helpful http://www.hvnnsw.org.au/pdf/g_usermanual.pdf

    Hope this helps!

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