Changing relationship with voices: new therapeutic perspectives for treating hallucinations



A growing body of research on verbal hallucinations shows the importance of beliefs about and relationships with the voices for their pathological course. In particular, beliefs about the omnipotence of the voices and the need to control them, and relationships with them that involve efforts to resist or fight them, have shown themselves to be more pathogenic than effective. Likewise, treatments aimed at eliminating the voices, be they based on medication or ‘traditional’ cognitive–behavioural therapy, have not always been successful. A series of strategies focused on changing relationships with the voices instead of trying to eliminate them—including mindfulness, acceptance, experiential role plays and re-authoring lives—is emerging as a new perspective for the treatment of hallucinations. All of these strategies are based on the person, not on the syndrome, which also represents a new conception of the problem, in a phenomenological–social perspective, alternative to the predominant medical conception. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.