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Intervoice: The International Community for Hearing Voices

November 2011 Newsletter

Welcome to the November Newsletter.  The main feature this month is a report on the very successful World Congress and Intervoice Meeting held in Italy in September.  It is a great opportunity for us to get to know one another and hear about inspiring work that is going on around the world.   We are already starting to plan the next Congress!
Over the coming months we hope to build on and develop our network of supporters to enable us to make our voice heard and support one another, We will be contacting you and look forward to receiving your feedback.  Thank you for your continuing interest. 
Dirk Corstens,
Chair of Intervoice 
Savona - Intervoice Meeting and World Congress 2011
 
This year's Intervoice Meeting and World Congress, held in Savona, was hosted by the Italian Hearing Voices network from 1st - 3rd September.  It was an exciting occasion with several hundred people gathering to share and learn more about the Hearing Voices movement.  There were presentations, reports and workshops as well as opportunities to socialise.  Transcripts of the presentations will be posted on the Intervoice website:  www.intervoiceonline.org and on the site of the Italian network  www.parlaconlevoci.it

Reports from around the world included:
 Italy: Cristina Contini talked about her work with Voice Dialogue, a conversation method used in the hearing voices context where someone can talk to the voices of a voice hearer enabling them to express their different feelings, ideas and wishes.  Rafaello Pocobello described a support group of professionals from the University of Turin.
Kenya: Kanja described a community based project in Nairobi that aims to show that it is normal to be different.  In Kenya there are over 40 tribes each with their own culture but with a wealth of old knowledge that can help understand voice hearing.  The project offers a place for people to come in to talk and be listened to and also involves musicians and artists.
England:  Rachel Waddingham described a project she manages in London, setting up hearing voices groups within prisons.  It involves prisoners, staff and volunteers and provides support and facilitation training with the aim of developing a sustainable network.  It is a pilot project which hopefully can be expanded to more prisons.
Australia:  Ross Bowyer talked about a pilot project in Perth called voices @ work. It aims to help unemployed voice hearers to find and maintain a job.
France:  Yann Derobert described his work with hearing voices groups and building up a network in France.
Finland:  Alex Airola talked about a peer support group that also involves family members.
Greece:  Marianna Ketallinou and Lykourgos Karatzaferis described setting up the first hearing voices groups that have now been running for two years.
USA: Gail Hornstein, Orex Cohen and Will Hall talked about developments in the USA - much progress has been made since the last Congress, particularly training, interviews and talks.  They are working in a context of privatised medicine where doctors are paid for the medicines they prescribe, so pharmaceutical companies have a lot of power and influence. 

.Intervoice awards are made to people who have made significant contributions to the worldwide hearing voices movement.  This year awards went to Olga Runciman from Denmark, Marcello Macario from Italy and Monika Hoffman from Germany.  Paul Baker was given an Honorary Officer award.

There were workshops on a wide range of topics:  some exploring the relationship between voices and life history; others on support during psychotic episodes and  a number on different coping strategies.  The second day's workshops focused on the recovery process and  the structure of hearing voices groups in different contexts.  Presentations were given by Eleanor Longden on epidemiological research, by John Watkins on coming off medication and Cristina Contini on emergency coping strategies. All this was supplemented by plenary sessions, live theatre and a showing of Ken Rosenthal's film "Crooked Beauty".

(Thank you to Robin Timmers who provided a comprehensive report on the Congress from which these highlights were taken).
Follow these links for full copies of the reports:
http://tinyurl.com/Interoice-Meeting-Report 
http://tinyurl.com/Day-1-of-the-Congress 
http://tinyurl.com/Day-2-of-the-Congress 

Watch out for the 2012 Congress
The 8th Conference of the German Hearing Voices Network was again a success - A résumé
Monika Hoffmann
As usual the biannual conference of the German Hearing Voices Network took place in the townhall of Berlin-Neukölln, a part of Berlin with many social challenges and an open heart for differences in life styles. About 200 participants came from all over Germany and as usual there was a strong Austrian contingent. Some old friends, Suzanne Engelen and Dirk Corstens, travelled all the way from the Netherlands to participate in the second day.
On the 21stand 22ndof October voice hearers, family members and friends and professionals instead of politicians populated the assembly hall and the committee rooms. In talks, discussion groups and workshops the three groups of experts – those by experience, those by caring and those by profession – sounded out and discussed the changes in public perception and treatment of hearing voices during the last 20 years.
In the opening speech “My voices belong to me” the long way from the once almighty medical model to an experienced based approach was retraced with special stress on the more and more often recognized ability of voice hearers to play an important part in the health system.
After the following open panel by experts by experience on the topic “Experiences with recovery – what did I need” the audience split up into four trialogically[1]composed groups discussing the question, what do voice hearers need to deal with in a self-confident way with their voices. These groups met again after the second open panel, this time by experts by profession, who had talked about the question which if any changes in their work took place because of research on recovery. This time the trialogical groups discussed how the knowledge of the experts by experience is used by the health system today, which position family members have in the system and what should be changed?
The second day started with a talk by a mother about the often agonizing slowness of changes in the system. She too emphasised the necessity to develop self-confidence and stamina. After a public exchange between a voice hearer and a professional on how the voice hearer managed to survive and to become mistress in her home again the members of the audience were very moved. Most of them needed some time off.

In the afternoon workshops on the following topics took place:
  • How to deal with prejudices (conducted by a voice hearer)
  • Hearing voices and recovery (conducted by 2 voice hearers)
  • What do I have to do with hearing voices? Self-awareness for experts by profession (conducted by an expert by profession)
  • Researching hearing voices – Interpretation and prerogative of interpretation (conducted by 2 experts by profession)
  • Painting – The quiet way (conducted by an expert in caring)
 The final trialogical open panel on wishes for the future was full of hope and practical future plans. I`ll just cite one of the wishes: “I wish that it is possible for a voice hearer to say to strangers on a subway I am a voice hearer and they turn to him and want to know how does he feel about it, what do the voices say and that they tell him that they know others who hear voices too”.
At the end of the conference some voice hearers said that they had come with trepidations because they had not expected to feel as safe as they actually felt during the conference in such a big crowd. The organizers considered this the best feedback they could get. They even started to think about doing it again in two years time.

[1]A trialog is composed by 3 groups of experts. Those by experience, those by caring and those by profession 

News from the Greek Network 
In the past few months, weeks, days, history clock’s dials have been spinning like crazy across the Greek territory. The present has become unlivable for so many, it feels, that they have in turn become determined to push through into whatever future. The mind-your-own-business mantra turned into a numb silence for a while, but this silence is now being filled by a subtle, primal roar.  One General Strike after the other, we continuously and constantly delude ourselves that change is round the corner, that a rapturous, Messianic-like event will alter the historical trajectory for good. It has to happen this time, has become a ritualistic pre-demonstration certainty (from Occupy London).
The Greek hearing voices network follows the current situations and aims to organise a workshop for its members where we will deal on the ways this crisis affects the inner dialogue and the voices of the voice hearers and will aim at finding ways of copying and evolving.  We also run a Campaign to abolish mechanical restraints and “white cells” in mental health. You can find the campaign at our website or here:  http://www.hearingvoices.gr 
Furthermore on the 23rdof November 2011 we co-organised a conference over the similarities between social suppression that we are under these days and psychiatric suppression one may suffer when admitted at the mental health system.
Intervoice has done a lot for us and helped the word to spread. The network here in Athens becomes more firm and more people join the groups.
We are grateful for your support.
Greetings from Greece
Lykourgos 

To see the full version of this article go to http://www.intervoiceonline.org

The Hearing Voices Network USA Launches Website! 

We are pleased to announce that – in honor of World Hearing Voices Day – the Hearing Voices Network USA  chose Wednesday, September 14th 2011 to officially launch its website at www.hearingvoicesusa.org   joining countries across the world - including Australia, Greece, England, Wales, Denmark, the Netherlands and more – in finding a way to recognize this important date and celebrating the diversity of our human experiences.
While we’ll be working hard to continue to grow the website, there’s already a wealth of information about Hearing Voices USA, resources and links to other websites to explore, so be sure to check it out and help us spread the word.

 Research Request
 
We are a research team at the University of Surrey (England) with a passion for clinical work and research with people who hear voices.  Our team consists of two trainee Clincal Psychologists, Alison Holt and Esther Clarke, as well as Dr Clara Strauss, Clinical Psychologist.  We are conducting research into the factors associated with distress and voice hearing.  Specifically we want to discover what factors might promote recovery from distressing voices. 

We would like to hear from people who hear voices to participate in our internet-based research.  Participants will be asked to complete a number of questionnaires through our website.  This should take about 25 minutes.  Responses would remain anonymous.  To thank people for their time, participants can choose to enter into a prize draw for  three Amazon vouchers to the value of $75 in their preferred currency.  This is the link to the questionnaire where you can also find further information:  http://www.fahs.surrey.ac.uk/survey/voices  Our contact emails are e.clarke@surrey.ac.ukand a.holt@surrey.ac.uk 
 
 Have your say on Intervoice Research
 
Part of the mission of Intervoice is developing positive, hopeful messages that promote acceptance, tolerance and understanding of voice hearing experiences. One strategy to achieve this involves the generation of new knowledge and evidence. Unfortunately, however, much research presently being conducted maintains the idea that voices are in some way connected to illness or disease. We believe that this is because the questions posed are partly designed to come to this conclusion (for example, that voices “are a symptom of schizophrenia”). 
In response to this, Intervoice has set up its own Research Committee. The Committee is comprised of a mixture of voice hearers, academic professionals and mental health workers. All its members are actively involved in international research into hearing voices and/or promoting more diverse understandings of the voice hearing experience. 
Our main aim is to generate knowledge that both supports the aims of Intervoice and influences society, the academic community and mental health practice. Crucially, however, our work will be informed by the needs of voice hearers themselves; issues which are relevant and valuable for them in their daily lives. We want voice hearers, as well as their friends, allies, and supporters, to respond to the query: what research questions are relevant to you? 
To find out more follow this link:
http://tinyurl.com/Research-give-us-your-ideas 
 
Copyright © 2011 International Hearing Voices Projects (Intervoice), All rights reserved.
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