Hearing voices network groups: experiences of eight voice hearers and the connection to group processes and recovery

Lavender, A., Payne, Tom and Allen, J. (2017) Hearing voices network groups: experiences of eight voice hearers and the connection to group processes and recovery. Psychosis, 9 (3). pp. 205-215. ISSN 1752-2439.

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Voice hearing has a diverse history but is often understood as symptomatic of a psychotic disorder. Alternatives to “treatment” include peer-support “Hearing Voices Network groups” (HVNGs) which have grown in popularity and exist alongside professional-led hearing voices groups. Few studies have investigated processes underlying change in HVNGs. Established research into therapeutic factors and personal recovery may provide frameworks elucidating change processes.

This study aimed to investigate how HVNG attendees experienced change within the group and how this change influenced their lives. A qualitative design was employed using interpretative phenomenological analysis to elucidate group processes through immersion in the perspectives of group attendees. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight voice hearers from two HVNGs. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Four superordinate themes emerged: “healing: connecting with humanity”; “group as an emotional container”; “making sense of the voices and me”; and “freedom to be myself and grow”. Relationships, safety, exploration of voices and group ownership were key components of HVNG, but require further study. These components were consistent with therapeutic factors and known recovery processes, so these established frameworks could be used to further investigate change processes in HVNGs.

Voice hearing (VH) or“auditory hallucinations”are typically defined as symptoms of psychiatric illnesses requiring treatment. However, research has estimated that 5–28% of people have experienced VH during their lives (De Leede-Smith & Barkus, 2013) and not all of them become “ill”. Those reporting VH accompanied by distress or culturally unusual beliefs often end up in mental health services, diag- nosed with a psychotic illness and treated with medication. Whilst service user experiences of mental health services vary, many have felt failed by “a broken and demoralised system that does not deliver the quality of treatment that is needed for people to recover.” (Schizophrenia Commission, 2012, p. 4).

An alternative approach to VH emerged from the Hearing Voices Movement (HVM) in Holland. Its foundation stemmed from a key study demonstrating that 33% of voice hearers coped with VH experi- ences (Romme & Escher, 1989). This endeavour was driven by social needs and political/emancipatory aims (Romme, Honig, Noorthoorn, & Escher, 1992): empowering voice hearers to explore their experi- ences (Coleman & Smith, 1997); disseminating coping strategies; promoting alternatives to dominant.
CONTACT Tom Payne tomrpayne@hotmail.com © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Anthony Lavender (A) also has his articles sometimes published under the shortened version of his surname Tony with the initial T.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Prof Tony Lavender
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2018 15:35
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2018 12:00
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/17381

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00