Meet The Board

Intervoice is the international hearing voices movement. The International Hearing Voices Project is the organisation set up to support this movement. We are lucky to benefit from the experience and expertise of the following board members and advisors.

Board Members

Dirk Corstens- Chair

Dirk CorstensSince 2009 chair of the Intervoice Board. Dirk has been a social psychiatrist and psychotherapist since 1992. He is educated in cognitive, psychodynamic and systems therapy, Transactional Analysis and Voice Dialogue work.

Since 1992, Dirk has been Collaborator in the Hearing Voices Project of Marius Romme and Sandra Escher of the University Maastricht. Dirk developed the recovery programme, ‘Talking with Voices’, and is currently preparing research on this subject. He delivers courses with Ron Coleman and Eleanor Longden on ‘working and talking with voices

Eleanor Longden

Eleanor LongdenEleanor Longden is a psychology PhD student, currently working with the Bradford Early Intervention in Psychosis Service. She is the co-ordinator of Intervoice’s International Research Committee.

Her own experiences in the psychiatric system have given her a strong interest in promoting tolerance, awareness and positive explanations for mental health issues, and for the last four years has worked in both a clinical and academic capacity to endorse creative, enabling approaches to experiences such as voice-hearing unusual beliefs and self-injury.

Eleanor was part of the group who established the award-winning Bradford Self-Injury Service and has worked closely in developing and promoting the innovative Talking With Voices technique in the UK.

Jørn Ditlev Eriksen

JornJørn’s entire working career has been centred on psychiatry in areas such as social psychiatry, district psychiatry, psychotherapy, alcoholism and adolescent psychiatry.

He’s originally trained as a nurse. Afterwards, he took a diploma in management and a professional diploma in Human Resource Development.

Currently, he is a director of the social psychiatric services in Lyngby – taarbæk municipality. Which include housing, support at home, acute service, self-help groups, supported work, social firms, and educations programs est. The services in Lyngby – taarbæk municipality is in the Danish context a pioneering bid for recovery-oriented work (www.slotsvaenget-ltk.dk).

Jørn is the initiator of the creation of the Danish Voice Hearers Network, and has been on the board since its inception.

He was also in the initiative group who founded the Danish Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation.

Jørn was the first Dane to be invited to join the International Network International Mental Health Collaborating Network (Whole Life – Whole System) and he is now a member of the international advisory board. This network consists of people and organizations who have specific skills in relation to work on recovery processes.

Jørn has been President and Vice President of the Academic Society of Psychiatric Nurses for 8 years. For 7 years he was a columnist in the magazine nurse, and has regularly written articles for magazines and newspapers.

Jørn has for many years been a sought after speaker and an active community debater home and abroad in relation to the circumstances of mental health issues. In addition he works as a consultant for institutions wishing to work diligently with recovery processes.

Kellie Comans

Kelly ComansBig Hello from Australia! I had the honour of being invited to be a part of Intervoice and was beyond delighted to become a more active part of a movement that has helped me to reclaim my life, recycle my bad experiences into something worth much more than they are and most importantly be proud of who I’ am. I now have the confidence and ability to embrace all these parts of myself and I will always remain incredibly grateful to the Hearing Voices Network for this newfound acceptance.

To be more involved feels like an incredible opportunity to give back and hopefully give as much as it has given me. Intervoice is truly my Tribe and it is there I met my kind of people. People, who were willing to sit with people in their pain, delve into the meaning of their unusual but completely normal human experience and bear witness to this without judgment, People who were willing to speak up, passionate people fighting to make change and determined to help others.

Olga Runciman

I am the chair of the Danish Hearing Voices Network and am about to graduate as a psychologist. I am also a registered psychiatric nurse. As a network we have played an active role in building it to what it is today along with the other dedicated board members. This includes spreading the message that hearing voices and having other unusual experiences is not an illness but related to life experiences, are meaningful and are contextual. In fact Denmark has been one of the countries which has always been very well represented at the yearly Intervoice congresses because we have been so successful in spreading the concept of the hearing voices movement especially within community psychiatry.

I belong to the more critical end when it comes to psychiatry and work towards ending human rights abuses within psychiatry. This means working towards the removal of laws aimed specifically at those suffering distress as per the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E Méndez (2013) “States should impose an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against persons with disabilities, including the non-consensual administration of psychosurgery, electroshock and mind-altering drugs, for both long- and short- term application”. I also believe that the diagnosis of schizophrenia is a construct and the validity behind the diagnosis is not evidence based.

Another area that I personally work actively for is the role of medication of which many who are distressed and hear voices and end up being labelled schizophrenic are subjected to. It concerns me that the evidence surrounding psychiatric drugs is dubious at best and in fact the evidence suggests that neuroleptics are considerably more harmful than the “illness”. One of the areas I have focused on here in Denmark is the increased mortality that appears to be linked to neuroleptic use.

Both these areas are areas I have focused on here in Denmark and I believe I have to a shift in psychiatric practice. I am therefore working towards a post-psychiatric era where psychiatry whose power structure, as we know it today no longer exists. Instead genuine choice is a given for those suffering distress be it hearing voices groups, therapy, soteria houses, or even psychiatry.

Philip Benjamin

I have been a passionate advocate of the Hearing Voices approach for many years and was able to attend all the World Congresses apart from Cardiff, where I have found many kindred spirits and friends. Through my passion for advocating for a genuine human approach to voices among my colleagues (I work as a mental health nurse) from many professions, I have been working to establish a branch of the ISPS in Australia, which will culminate in its first AGM at WHVC in Melbourne, and have been able to contribute in a limited way (from 2000 Km away, via Skype), as I am on the WHVC 2013 clinical experts and advisory committees.

I know and count as friends many of the people associated with organising events and coordinating Intervoice, and I am definitely a team player, so as a board member I would be able to work more closely with them. I have recently been more and more involved in the Dialogical Practices movement, and would be keen to explore links between the various forms of dialogical practices emerging and being adopted within the recovery and early intervention approaches – it seems to me that these practices could form a bridge between the so far separate, and in some ways, competing, approaches for newly emerging voices and psychosis and recovery for those struggling with voices, psychosis and the effects of institutional ‘care’ – abuse, invalidation, stigma and low expectations.

Sandra Escher

Sandra EscherDr Sandra Escher has been involved in the Hearing Voices Movement from the very beginning. She arranged for the appearance of Patsy Hage and Marius Romme on the Dutch TV talk show (the first time a serious effort was made to reach out to voice hearers not in contact with psychiatry and to find out about their experiences).

She has organised the hearing voices congresses in Holland, which are held every two years, as well as the four congresses she organised for INTERVOICE in Maastricht. She also has taken responsibility for the P.R. for the voice hearing research studies.

In 1996 she started her own research with children hearing voices. Her new book on children who hear voices was published in 2010

Will Hall

Will HallWill Hall MA, DiplPW, is a therapist, trainer, and community development worker whose recovery from a schizophrenia diagnosis has brought him the forefront of innovations in psychosis treatment in the US and around the world. A longtime leader with the peer recovery movement, co-founder of Freedom Center, and organizer with The Icarus Project, Will also hosts the FM radio program Madness Radio syndicated through the Pacifica Network.

Will’s writing has appeared in the Journal of Best Practices in Mental Health Care and in the upcoming Oxford University Press Modern Community Mental Health Work: An Interdisciplinary Approach, and he has been widely featured in the media including the New York Times and Newsweek magazine. His “Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs” has been translated into 4 languages, and he has consulted in Argentina, Mexico, and Peru for Disability Rights International. Will is founder of Portland Hearing Voices, which now has three Voices and Extreme States groups running weekly, and is a co-founder of Hearing Voices USA.

Advisors

Rachel Waddingham

Rachel WaddinghamRachel (Rai) Waddingham is the manager of Mind in Camden’s London Hearing Voices Project, developing innovative services to support people who hear voices or see visions; including Voice Collective (an award winning project supporting children, young people and their parents), pioneering the first network of peer support groups for people in prison who hear voices and a launching a London-wide network of paranoia peer support groups.

In addition to supporting Intervoice, Rai is a trustee of the English Hearing Voices Network and ISPS UK (International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis), a media spokesperson, writer and international trainer. She has contributed to a number of publications on mental distress, including Dr Sandra Escher’s landmark book ‘Children Hearing Voices’.

Rai is also a voice-hearer and survivor of trauma, who spent more than a decade as a psychiatric patient on high doses of neuroleptic medication. She now no longer needs medication to deal with her experiences and feels profoundly lucky to have found the hopeful and practical message of the Hearing Voices Network. She credits attending a Hearing Voices Group as one of the first steps on her road to recovery, and feels honoured to be contributing to the movement that is so pivotal in her own journey.

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