This collection includes six articles about the work of the Hearing Voices Network:
Introducing the Work of the Hearing Voices Network— David DenboroughAn introduction by David Denborough
The Use of Humour and Other Coping Strategies— Jon WilliamsEveryone’s experience of hearing voices is different. In this paper Jon Williams describes the ways in which he has come to live with the voices he hears and how humour plays a vital part. This paper also describes a number of creative coping strategies as well as discussing the influential work of the Hearing Voices Network.
Glimpses of Peace— Sharon De ValdaTrauma can be the main trigger or cause of voice-hearing in many people. In this paper, Sharon de Valda evocatively conveys how racism and sexism shape her experience of hearing voices and how she has in turn used her own experiences to assist other voice-hearers.
From Paranoid Schizophrenia to Hearing Voices - and Other Class Distinctions— Mickey De ValdaWhile not commonly discussed, class relations have a significant influence in relation to people’s experiences of mental health and hearing voices in particular. In this paper, Mickey de Valda describes how experiences of class shape his experience and how this has influenced his work with the Hearing Voices Network.
Partnership— Julie DownsIn this paper, Julie Downs (Co-ordinator of the National Office of the Hearing Voices Network) discusses the importance of thoughtful partnerships between those who hear voices and those who do not. Both the hazards and possibilities of these partnerships are considered, particularly in relation to matters of power, politics and control.
Altering the Balance of Power: Working with Voices— Peter BullimoreThrough sharing stories of therapeutic work, this paper describes how issues of abuse and power are vital considerations when working with voice-hearers. Not only is voice-hearing often the result of abuse, but voice-hearing itself can be an experience of abuse. Peter Bullimore describes how he is interested in ensuring that abusive voices are challenged and their influence reduced, and how positive voices can be acknowledged and cherished. The paper also tells stories of a recently established group for people experiencing ‘paranoia’ that is having surprising success, and identifies significant factors that influence the process of recovery. The author also shares some of his own experiences of psychosis and how these influence his work in this area.
This paper explores the use of various narrative practices with children and their families in child protection settings. The first half examines how a ‘double listening’ approach and the engagement of outsider witnesses can be used with children who have experienced trauma and abuse. The second half of the paper gives an account of therapy over a number of months, with a family struggling with the effects of violence, alcohol and depression. Externalising conversations were found to be very helpful in allowing members of the family to work together in response to these challenges, rather than working against each other. These conversations were also documented through digital photographs of a child’s drawings on a whiteboard, which were then sent to the family as a form of therapeutic document.
This paper describes a narrative group therapy model applied in a psychiatric day centre. The group was conceived as a form of definitional ceremony, in which a participant is invited to share an account of a unique outcome that happened to them recently, while the other members serve as outsider witnesses to this development. A detailed example of a therapeutic conversation about depression, and the outsider witness group’s responses, shows how these generative conversations can be held in a psychiatric setting. A second example of this work details how outsider witness group reflections can be used to form the basis of an alternative kind of ‘discharge letter’. Finally, the paper discusses significant dilemmas arising from the work, including how to discern which subordinate story-lines to develop from the many entry points available.
This paper, first delivered as a keynote address at the Reconnexion Annual National Anxiety and Depression Conference in Melbourne, May 2010, explores various narrative practices in responding to anxiety and depression: elevating context and externalising problems, linking people in the work, uncovering local and insider-knowledges, and documenting and archiving these knowledges, including using ‘living documents’ as collective therapeutic documents.
This article outlines a narrative therapeutic approach to working in collaboration with people experiencing chronic pain. This approach was created in concert with 13 co-researchers who were experiencing, or had partners who experienced, varying degrees of pain. Contributing therapeutic conversations spanned a ten-month period. Outcomes were achieved through the application of various narrative therapy principles including externalisation, mapping the influence of the problem, remembering practices, developing an experience-near definition of the problem, double listening, alternative or preferred story development and the use of collective documents and definitional ceremonies What emerged from this were two themes: The identification, importance and use of personally constructed strategies, and the reduction of pain experiences by addressing self-identified problems that were more pressing than pain. Narrative therapy was successful in helping to re-establish valued ways of living that chronic pain often sidelines. We found that it is possible to reduce experiences of pain by addressing more pressing problems.
This paper explores the counter-effects of creativity on depression, and gives an example of creative narrative therapy strategies in externalising and storying depression in conversations with young women at a New Zealand high school.