A preliminary evaluation (2004)
Sara Meddings, Linda Walley, Tracy Collins, Fay Tullett, Bruce McEwan and Kate Owen, Sussex Partnership Trust
The study found that after attending the hearing voices group,members’ hospital bed use decreased and there was a trend for less formal admissions. People used far more coping strategies and were able to talk to far more people about their voices after attending the group. Learning coping strategies was something people valued about the group and one of the common topics was to explore and experiment with different coping strategies. After attending the group, self esteem increased. User empowerment also increased supporting anecdotal reports of hearing voices groups which had not been formally examined elsewhere. Feeling more empowered was one of the aims of the group particularly valued by users and may be associated, not only with the voices themselves, but also with other aspects of recovery and getting better. People’s relationships with the voices were mostly improved. They heard the voices less frequently, the voices were perceived as less powerful (omnipotent) relative to them, people felt much better able to cope with their voices, and there were trends towards people feeling less controlled by their voices and feeling less alone. Perhaps most importantly, the evaluation shows that people improved in relation to what they had identified as their own goals for the group, their personal constructs.
Version of research study published as “The voices don’t like it…”, in Mental health Today, (September 2006)
Hearing voices groups have been shown to benefit members by reducing the power and influence of the voices and providing an important source of peer and social support. Sara Meddings and colleagues report the findings of the first ever study to use standardised measures to gauge the impact of attendance at a hearing voices group. Their study quantified statistically significant improvements in participants’ ability to live with and even control their voices, as well as collecting evidence of the qualitative benefits of knowing that others are also struggling with what can be a very isolating and alienating phenomenon.