Discovery of the problems of the voice hearer
The discovery journey
The discovery journey described more extensively in the book “Making sense of Voices” chapter 5,6 and 7 is in effect a technical manual on how to discover the problems of the voice hearer in bedded in a process requiring elements as:
Building up a relation ship
It is most important to be interested in the person of the voice hearer not only in his symptoms or diagnosis. This means interest in learning to know the person better, his life style, his interests, his way of thinking about the purpose of life and coping with problems and emotions, his dreams. Such a relationship also needs some openness of the professional about the development of his interest in his profession, his thoughts and knowledge about the hearing voices experience
The second step is to normalize the voice hearing experience as apparent in 4 % of the general population of whom only a third needs support. To tell that it is not a sign of madness but a reaction to problems, which you like to explore together with the voice hearer.
The purpose of the interview is to learn to know the voices better and to that purpose it is necessary to explore the hearing voices experience in a systematic way. The interview is focused on the hearing voices experience itself. Interview-skills are: the ability to focus on the voice hearers experience and realize that the hearer is the expert; to accept and acknowledge that the experience is real; the ability to refrain from interpreting the information while interviewing; the ability to take a journalistic approach, that is to learn to know the voices better and not to confirm one’s own ideas; to have the courage and patience to learn to practice the interview, not expecting to do it well before having done many more interviews.
Making a report
The next step in analyzing the relationship between voices and hearer is composing a well-constructed report. Now the interview material needs to be carefully selected, distilled and organised. One uses the headings of the interview to organize the information, so that no sideways or entanglements of elements are taken into the report’s-structure. One always tries to select that information that might link the voice characteristics with the life-history. One uses as much as possible exactly those formulations that are used by the voice hearer in answering the interview questions. (see chapter 6 of Making Sense of Voices).
Linking Voice characteristics with the hearers problems in life (The construct)
The main purpose is to try and get an answer to two questions
Whom do the voices represent?
What problems do the voices represent?
Both questions address the fundamental purpose of the whole analysis – not why does the person hears voices, but how can we make sense of the voices? The question “how” requires a more open inquiry in which the hearers themselves are more involved. It is meant to open a journey of discovery. (For detailed information see Romme & Escher Recovery under making a construct)
Different ways to Rome
There are more ways to analyze the relationship between voices and the problems in the life of the voice hearer. Ron Coleman and Mike Smith have written a workbook: “Working with voices”. This book has been written for voice hearers to use themselves and to learn to know their own history and explore the relationships between their voices and their life-history and problems.
Hearing voices group
Hearing voices support groups are a good way to start the discovery journey, because they open the way to freely talk about the voice hearing experience and to be accepted and respected. There they can learn from each other about the relationship between the voices and the life problems. The group then needs to go deeper then only tell their stories but members should tell and put questions forward not only about coping but also about possible roots.