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Keywords:

  • Experience Focused Counselling;
  • Hearing voices;
  • psychosis;
  • recovery;
  • schizophrenia

Accessible summary

  • Mental health professionals are supposed to work within a recovery-orientated culture of mental health service provision.
  • Despite a drive towards training mental health professionals in recovery-orientated ways of working, there remains a distinct lack of complementary approaches to the biological paradigm when working with experiences such as voice hearing.
  • The Hearing Voices Movement has been a great influence within the Recovery Movement in the past 26 years. However, their self-reported benefits appear to have been largely confined to the user movement.
  • The evidence from this review indicates the constraints of knowledge within biological research to schizophrenia and hearing voices. It also highlights a lack of quantifiable research to the individualized approach of the Hearing Voices Movement, also known as Experience Focused Counselling or Making Sense of Voices.

Abstract

A pathologizing paradigm to making sense of experiences such as hearing voices and schizophrenia remains dominant within mental health service provision. However, a real biological basis to the aetiology of hearing voices, and similar phenomena remains elusive. Antipsychotic medication, as the mainstay of the biological model, has not only been shown to have serious side effects, but is widely acknowledged as being of clinical benefit only to a limited number of people. In contrast, the Recovery Movement, and in particular the Hearing Voices Movement, have suggested that a normal life is possible despite having the experience of hearing voices. At its heart is the notion that it is possible to make sense of voices within the person's life context and to learn to live with them. Interestingly, it would seem that this approach remains largely confined to the user movement. This may in part be the result of the lack of widely accepted quantifiable and qualitative research in this area supporting such a stance. This review focuses on the current evidence base for the individual approach of the Hearing Voices Movement, which is known as Experience Focused Counselling or Making Sense of Voices. Future directions for research are indicated.