Beliefs about voices and their effects on coping strategies
Cognitive behavioural techniques are increasingly used as adjuncts to medication in the treatment of auditory hallucinations for people with schizophrenia. There are now literally hundreds of nurses trained in the use of cognitive behavioural interventions for psychosis. However, there is still disagreement about the nature of the cognitive processes that lead to deficits or biases in patients’ processing of information about their psychotic experiences. Using Chadwick & Birchwood’s Beliefs About Voices Questionnaire (BAVQ), the investigator collected data regarding voices from a sample of men and women being treated for schizophrenia by secondary mental health services. The investigator then carried out a cross-lagged panel analysis of the data. The investigator found, as predicted, positive relationships between a resistive coping style and an attribution of malevolence to voices, and between an engaging coping style and an attribution of benevolence to voices. Coping and attributional styles were not necessarily stable over time. There was a non-significant difference between women’s and men’s attributions and coping styles. There was less fluctuation over time in the women’s scores on the BAVQ. This research shows that one cannot assume that either coping or attributional style becomes more stable over time. However, while there are strong relationships between attributions and coping styles, and particularly between malevolence and resistance and benevolence and engagement, these relationships are not necessarily mutually exclusive and some people in the study believe their voices to be both malevolent and benevolent. These findings suggest that clinicians need to make a very careful assessment of attribution and coping with regard to hallucinations and that systematic reassessment is very important. Further research is necessary in both the phenomenology of attribution and coping, but also to relate these variables to other aspects of schizophrenic illnesses.