Purpose– The distress that is associated with auditory hallucinations, or voices, is well documented. However, increasingly research into this phenomenon is also capturing those who cope with their voices, and live meaningful lives. Peer support is a popular and useful way in which to learn to manage the distress for voice-hearers. The Hearing Voices Network (HVN) acts as an umbrella organisation for which research, training and peer support groups exist (www.intervoiceonline.org). Despite the growing amount of peer support groups established, there is to date no published material on these groups. The purpose of this paper is to discuss these issue. Design/methodology/approach– The present study used Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis to explore the experiences of four informants across three New South Wales HVN groups. Findings– Results suggest that the social connections, value of sharing and desire for more group members are all important within the group. Beyond the group, informants described the increased willingness to talk to others about their voice experiences, improvements in sense of self and a positive change in their relationship with their voices. Originality/value– The study demonstrates the importance of peer participation in the mental health workforce and the provision of safe spaces for those with lived experience to share and learn from each other in meaningful ways. Research implications include the need for further research measuring outcomes on a larger scale for these support groups.
The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 9, 2015