International Mental Health Congress

 18 & 19 July 2017 | All Nations Centre, Cardiff

Join us for two inspiring days at our International Mental Health Congress. Partnering with the IMHCN we have designed an agenda which explores the ‘whole person, whole life, whole systems’ approach to mental health. This will be a significant event bringing together experts on the Whole Life-Whole Systems approach from Wales, England and the international community. We have representatives joining us from Australia, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Ireland and Malaysia. There will be many opportunities to take part in plenary sessions, participatory masterclasses and network with professionals.

As always, our events are free to attend. Please note that registration for this event will close when we reach full capacity, or at 12pm on 7th July 2017, whichever comes first.

For additional information or booking assistance, please contact laura.morgan2@wales.nhs.uk or call 02920 104 376.

 We have an exciting two day event programme planned for you.

 Keynote speakers include:

  • Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport
  • Roberto Mezzina, Director, MH Department/ WHOCC of Trieste, Italy
  • Michael Holland, Medical Director, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
  • Norhameza Ahmad Badruddin, Clinical Psychologist, Permai Hospital, Johor Bahru, Malaysia


The Pembrokeshire Hearing Voices Group has recently placed the following 30-second advertisement to be broadcast from time to time on Radio Pembrokeshire in South-West Wales from Friday, March 17th for several months.

Do you hear voices?

“Voices from inside your head or from outside your head that others cannot hear?

You are not alone.

Hearing voices is a common human experience.

You are not crazy. But the experience may be upsetting and frightening. If it is, you are welcome to join us.

We are the Pembrokeshire Hearing Voices Group.

A friendly space where you can share your experience with other people who hear voices.

We meet monthly in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Would you join us?

For more information contact John on 07968 238 218 or visit our website hearingvoicescymru.org.”

You can listen to our advertisement here:

Recovery Conversations – One-Day Workshop – Across the UK

Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor from Working To Recovery are running a number of one-day workshops across the UK in Chester, Bangor, Swansea, Cardiff, Dundee, Bristol and Birmingham.

Recovery conversations is a one day workshop that introduces participants to different ways of engaging in often difficult conversations with people having psychotic experiences.

Rooted in a narrative approach of working and building on work carried out by Micheal & Cheryl White and Marius Romme & Sandra Escher, recovery conversations will introduce attendees into ways of both entering into and how to build on often fixed narratives that are keeping clients stuck in what Taylor and Coleman call the illness trap.

Moving beyond the concept of illness to one of wellbeing is for Taylor and Coleman a process and it is this process that they will unpick during the workshop breaking it down to series of interactive conversations and exercises that participants will be able to use after the day.

There are 10 Bursary Places on each day for Voice Hearers sponsored by Hearing Voices Network Cymru.

For more details go here.

Working Creatively with Psychosis: Using Voice Dialogue, Body Dialogue & Voice Sculpting

Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor from Working To Recovery are running a number of one-day workshops across the UK in Chester, Bangor, Swansea, Cardiff, Dundee, Bristol and Birmingham.

Working creatively with psychosis is a one-day practice workshop that will explore how we can use Voice Dialogue, Body Dialogue and Voice Sculpting ways of working that can enable clients to explore the most difficult parts of their distress in a safe and secure enviornment.

There are 10 Bursary Places on each day for Voice Hearers sponsored by Hearing Voices Network Cymru.

For more details go here.

Canon Angela Tilby, Thought For The Day, BBC Radio 4, 04/05/17

“Good morning. Why Did I go Mad? was the arresting title of Tuesday’s night’s Horizon programme in which three people with psychosis spoke frankly about their illness. Paranoia, hallucinations, hearing voices – not so long ago it would have been unthinkable to have sufferers describing these to a television audience; we saw one of them shrinking from a spiky crab-like monster which appeared at his table as he sat in a coffee shop; another drew her persecuting voices as tree-like horrors who constantly threatened her with violence.

I thought of the poignant incident in the New Testament where a tormented man was asked his name and replied, ‘Legion’ explaining ‘for we are many’. Ancient cultures knew how mental illness can fragment the personality.

What was remarkable about the programme was the way it brought together two approaches to psychosis which have often been in conflict. The strictly medical way has been to treat it as an organic disease. The current theory is that too much of the brain chemical dopamine can trigger it, though there are genetic and social aspects as well. But there has always been an alternative approach, closer perhaps to a pre-scientific understanding, that asks: What are the voices saying; what do the monsters signify? It’s an issue of how to define truth. In the 1960s the counter-cultural psychiatrist R.D. Laing hailed schizophrenics as prophets, while others insisted that patients should be told firmly that they could never be cured until they accepted that their voices and visions were unreal. Both sides accused the other of harming patients; either by refusing to recognise the seriousness of their suffering or by refusing to see meaning in their symptoms. In the programme we saw one sufferer’s medicine chest with its box of proven anti-psychotic drugs; but we also heard of gentler interventions; of the Hearing Voices network which supports people who experience voices.

Treating our bodies as machines works well for many illnesses; the whole person gets better as the mechanism is mended. But mental illness doesn’t always follow this pattern. Psychosis seems to open an underground chasm in the self; what spills out may be terrible and destructive or potentially valuable. One of the voice hearers in the Horizon programme said, quite casually, that she now realised that her voices were simply a part of herself. Another was shown starting a dialogue with one of her persecuting voices. For some there is clearly a point in trying to find meaning in madness. When I look at the healings Jesus performed in the New Testament; mind, body and meaning were all involved.

Perhaps mental health is beginning to heal some of the splits in its own thinking and to recognise the key place metaphor and symbol play in human health. We no longer shut the mentally ill away from society. In mental illness truth is more than fact or fiction.”

You can listen to the broadcast here

Two simple questions that have changed the way people hear inner voices

Once the province of prophets, “hearing voices” is still shorthand for madness. And yet in the past 30 years, a new understanding has been created by voice-hearers themselves, as part of the Hearing Voices Movement. This suggests that uncovering the roots of the voice can potentially help the hearer.

Article by Simon McCarthy-Jones, Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology, Trinity College Dublin, published by The Conversation, 3rd May, 2017. Read it in full here.

“Can’t You Hear Them? The Science and Significance of Hearing Voices” : Important New book

The experience of ‘hearing voices’, once associated with lofty prophetic communications, has fallen low. Today, the experience is typically portrayed as an unambiguous harbinger of madness caused by a broken brain, an unbalanced mind, biology gone wild. Yet an alternative account, forged predominantly by people who hear voices themselves, argues that hearing voices is an understandable response to traumatic life-events. There is an urgent need to overcome the tensions between these two ways of understanding ‘voice hearing’. Simon McCarthy-Jones considers neuroscience, genetics, religion, history, politics and not least the experiences of many voice hearers themselves. This enables him to challenge established and seemingly contradictory understandings and to create a joined-up explanation of voice hearing that is based on evidence rather than ideology.
“An engaging enquiry into the psychology and neuroscience of voice hearing that explores hallucinated voices in all their fascinating forms.” Vaughan Bell, University College London, UK

“A remarkable book about voice-hearing,which provides an accessible account of the science,but does not lose track of the meaning of the experience. It is compassionate, controversial and compelling.” Chris Cook, Professor of Spirituality, Theology and Health at Durham University, UK

“On finishing this book my initial instinct was to re-read it in order to appreciate its insights for a second time, Can’t You Hear Them? is not only a work of impressive scholarship but a compelling, beautifully-written story of human experience and endeavour.” Dr. Eleanor Longden, Psychosis Research Unit, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust,UK

“With rigorous science, penetrating analyses, colourful and enjoyable prose, and an astonishing breadth of knowledge – Simon McCarthy-Jones has delivered a book that will undeniably be appreciated by many.”Frank Laroi, University of Bergen, Norway and University of Liege, Belgium

“A brilliant and thoughtful travel into the complex experience of hearing voices. Superbly written,with intelligence, but also a delightful sense of humour, this book will become an indispensable addition to the bookshelves of clinicians, scientists and people who hear voices.” Renaud Jardri, MD, PhD, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Lille, France

“Can’t You Hear Them ? The Science and Significance of Hearing Voices” is an excellent, important, intellectually mature and beautifully written book about voice hearing and science. It is not without humour. Simon McCarthy-Jones is a courageous and able researcher and communicator who rightly deserves significant success and recognition as a writer and academic in the field of health and progress.” Hywel Davies, Chairman : Hearing Voices Network Cymru, Wales

More information on how to purchase here.

The Voices In Our Heads: Why do people talk to themselves, and when does it become a problem?

Review in The New Yorker of “The Voices Within” Charles Fernyhough, a British professor of psychology at Durham University, England. Read the full article here.

9th World Hearing Voices Congress 2017

August 16-18, 2017

Boston University, Boston, MA, USA

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More infomation here.

Mental Health Summer Recovery Camp 2017

Getting the Experience of a Recovery Community for Everyone

7th – 12th September 2017

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Tanycoed Farm, Llansilin, Shropshire, SY10 9BS, Wales

Working To Recovery Ltd are hosting their third Summer Recovery Camp.

The purpose is to create an environment of recovery and for everyone to experience it for themselves! Each year the Recovery Camp, grows organically, both leading up to it and during the Camp. During the Recovery Camp there are talks, debates, workshops, alternative therapy and a whole host of other things that happen.The morning begins with Chi Gong, Meditation and other practices. This is followed by a Morning Meeting when we all check-in. This is followed by workshops. Workshops can be run by anyone attending and so range from a whole host of areas.

After lunch, we have a ‘Big Tent Discussion’ – which is led by an invited speaker, who talks on a topic, opening up to a debate and discussion. Following this there are more workshops.

Throughout the day, there are taster sessions of alternative therapy (for donation) and a range of other things that organically grow throughout the camp – like EFT, Zen Tarot Readings, Energy Healing, etc…

The evening is a time to have fun, play and relax. Bands play, there is a music Open Mic Night and the last night there is a Mad Pride night, where anyone can stand-up and do a piece – poetry, story telling, singing, magic, comedy, whatever people can bring.

You can find out more about this highly recommended event here.

At the World Hearing Voices Congress held in Paris, France in October 2016 participants were asked to respond to the question “What does the Hearing Voices Movement mean to you” on a postcard. Some of the messages and images are included in this video slide presentation.

Hope, healing, resilience, community, and listening to each other’s stories with empathy and respect

Hearing Voices Network Cymru offers support and understanding to people who hear voices, see visions, have other extraordinary experiences and those who care for and support them

Mae Rhwydwaith Clywed Lleisiau Cymru yn cynnig cefnogaeth a dealltwriaeth i unigolion sy’n clywed lleisiau ac i’r rhai sydd yn eu cefnogi

“What we are trying to do is to create a new reality in which voices and visions are commonplace.” Hywel Davies

 Os ydych chi’n clywed lleisiau, gallwn ni helpu

Bydd llawer o bobl yn dechrau clywed lleisiau o ganlyniad i straen aruthrol neu ysgytiad. Rydym yn cynnig hysbysrwydd, cefnogaeth a dealltwriaeth i’r rhai sy’n clywed lleisiau ac i’r rhai sydd yn eu cefnogi. Gweler ein hamcanion yma.

 Mae Rhwydwaith Clywed Lleisiau Cymru yn aelod o INTERVOICE (rhagor o wybodaeth am INTERVOICE yma) y mudiad rhyngwladol sy’n cynrychioli rhwydweithiau clywed lleisiau mewn 35 o wledydd ledled y byd.

If you hear voices, see visions and have other extraordinary experiences, we can help

We offer information, support and understanding to people who hear voices, see visions, have other extraordinary experiences and those who support them. See our aims here.

We are a member of  INTERVOICE, (more information here) the international organisation representing networks in 35 countries across the world.

Ein Gwaith

Mae cyfyngiadau’r agwedd feddygol tuag at glywed lleisiau a chyflyrau meddyliol eraill, wedi eu labelu yn glefydau, fel sgitsoffrenia a salwch deubegynol (bipolar), yn dra hysbys. Mae seiciatreg yn cyfeirio at clywed lleisiau fel rhithweledigaethau clywedol ac yn eu hystyried fel symptomau seicosis. Ystyrir eu bod yn rhan o salwch meddwl hirbarhaol.

Fodd bynnag, dengys ein gwaith a’n hymchwil fod llawer o esboniadau am glywed lleisiau, a’i bod yn bosib clywed lleisiau ond cael profiadau rhyfeddol a bod yn iach. Bellach, er y bydd llawer yn clywed lleisiau o ganlyniad i straen eithafol neu ysgytwad, mae’n bosib hefyd ddysgu sut i ymdopi â lleisiau ac adfer eich bywyd. Oherwydd bod unigolion sy’n clywed lleisiau a gwasanaethau iechyd meddwl wedi cael gwybod yn well am waith y mudiad clywed lleisiau (yn weithredol ers dros 25 mlynedd), rydym wedi helpu llawer sy’n clywed lleisiau i ffeindio ffyrdd i ymdopi, i wella ac i ffynnu.

Dywed Hywel Davies, cadeirydd Rhwydwaith Clywed Lleisiau Cymru:

“Rwy’n clywed lleisiau, ac rwyf wedi eu clywed ers imi fod yn 11 oed. Nawr, rwy’n byw bywyd llwyddiannus a chynhyrchiol, ac rwyf wedi dysgu sut i fyw gyda’m lleisiau. Ystyr ysbrydol pwysig sy ganddynt imi. Er bod y profiad wedi bod, ac yn dal i fod, yn anodd weithiau, rwy’n gallu siarad am fy lleisiau, trwy gefnogaeth ffrindiau agos a chydweithwyr yn y mudiad.

Yn y mudiad clywed lleisiau, ein nod yw newid agweddau cymdeithasol tuag at y rhai sy’n clywed lleisiau, fel y gall unigolyn ddatgan “rwy’n clywed lleisiau yn fy mhen” heb gael ei ddiarddel.

Rydym wedi darparu’r wefan hon er mwyn y rhai sy’n clywed lleisiau yn y pen, aelodau teuliol, cyfeillion ac eraill sydd â diddordeb. Ein nod yw rhoi gwybodaeth, gorau y gallwn, i’ch helpu chi ar eich taith. Gobeithiwn y bydd ein gwefan yn ddefnyddiol ac o ddiddordeb ichi”. 

Our Work

The limitations of the medical approach to hearing voices and other states of mind like visual hallucinations,  labelled as illnesses, such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder, are well known. Psychiatry refers to voices and vision as auditory hallucinations and visual hallucinations. It regards them as schizoaffective disorder or psychosis symptoms of hearing and visual hallucinations and part of long term, chronic mental illnesses.

However, our work and research shows that there are many explanations and that it is possible to hear voices and  have other extraordinary experiences and be well. Further, although many people begin to hear voices as a result of extreme stress or trauma it is also possible to learn to live with them and recover your life. As knowledge of the work of the hearing voices movement, (active now for more than twenty five years) has become better known by people who hear voices and schizoaffective disorder or mental health services, we have helped many people who hear voices to find ways to cope, recover and thrive.

Hywel Davies, the chair of the HVN Cymru says:

“I hear voices and have done so since I was eleven years old. I now live a successful and productive life and have learnt to live with my voices. My voices have important spiritual meaning for me.  Although at times the experience has been and can be difficult, through the support of close friends and colleagues in the hearing voices movement I am always able to talk about my voices.  

Our goal is to change  attitudes towards people who hear voices so that people can say “I am hearing voices in my head” without being ostracised.

We have set up this website for people who hear voices in their head, family members, friends and interested citizens. Our goal is to provide the best information that we can to help you in your journey. We hope you will find our website useful and interesting.”

Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ’s

This website provides up to date information about how people of all ages including children hearing voices can find more effective ways of accepting, living with, and coping with overwhelming voices. Here are some answers to questions we have been asked about our work.

Question: Why do we refer to the experience as “hearing voices in my head” and why do we believe the language to describe experiences so important?

Answer: When people have this experience, they often refer to it as “I hear voices”“a voice” or “voices in my head“. Generally speaking, people do not refer to their voice-hearing experience or experiences as “auditory hallucinations”, “visual hallucinations”, “delusions” or “psychosis symptoms”. Our research and work over twenty five years have revealed that the experience has meaning and connected with life events and is not in itself a disorder requiring intensive bio-chemical treatment.

We have reached the conclusion that many of the treatments and much of the medical language used by traditional western psychiatry to help people who say they are “hearing voices in my head” are unhelpful, inaccurate and unintentionally harmful.

Terms such as “auditory hallucinations”, “visual hallucinations” and “delusions” as descriptions of what is occurring to the individual deprive the experience of meaning. Furthermore, this process is not helped at all by terms most closely associated with voices such as “schizophrenia”, “schizoaffective disorder”, “psychosis” and/or “psychotic disorders”. These terms and similar terms deprive the experience of significance and humanity. They wrongly infer that the experience is part of a life long chronic emotional illness that cannot be resolved or nullified by the individual with the help of family, colleagues, friends, meditation, creativity and/or belief.

The experience is in fact meaningful to the person experiencing the voice or vision. The key is to help the person unlock the meaning and learn to accept, live with, and cope with their voices or visions.

Question: What has our work and research revealed about the experience?

Answer: Many people say things like this: ” I hear voices in my head” or “I hear a voice in my head“. The experience varies from person to person. Some people hear a voice whilst others hear more than one voice. For others, they may hear many voices. People of all ages have this experience. The work and research of Dr. Sandra Escher show that children hearing voices is not uncommon and that with support they can live well with the experience.

However, when the experience is reduced to a “delusion”, a sign and symptom of a “psychotic disorder” and when no consideration is given to the life story, the content and the personal meaning ascribed to the so called “auditory hallucinations” or “visual hallucinations” , then this makes it much more difficult for the person to recover.

Question: Is the experience a sign of illness?

As we have said above, we do not believe that hearing voices is necessarily a part of a “disorder”. Nor is it part of “psychosis symptoms” or part of a “psychosis” or part of “psychotic disorders” such as “schizophrenia” or “schizo-affective disorder”. Our work and research over twenty five years have discovered that there are many people (about 4 – 7% of the population ) who have this experience and who can be regarded as healthy and well functioning. These people are coping with the voices and the so called “symptoms” such as “delusions” without recourse to traditional treatment. This important fact is often neglected by western psychiatric orthodoxy. This may hold the key to a better understanding of what “psychosis” entails and could lead to a much more effective treatment of “psychosis”.

Therefore the important question is what is it that people coping with voices can tell us that can assist people who are overwhelmed by the voice-hearing experience?

Question: How is it possible to live with voices?

Answer: Can “psychosis” be a way of coping with unliveable circumstances? We believe there is strong evidence that this is indeed the case. The relationship between trauma, unusual life experiences and crisis has been identified by over 70% of people with voice experiences. This reality often goes unrecognised. This is so because the sole focus of current “psychosis” treatment is on eradicating symptoms such as “delusions” and “hallucinations” rather than on unlocking the meaning. On thre contrary we believe that one can  say “I hear voices” and be healthy and well.

More Frequently Asked Questions here.

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