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February 13, 2020 by Caroline Mazel-Carlton

Beyond Possible: How the Hearing Voices Approach Transforms Lives

In the United States, media representations of voice-hearers are rare and mostly negative.  When our stories *are* shared, we are often portrayed as one-dimensional, irrational, violent or unable to contribute to our communities.  Research indicates that one in ten people hear voices at some point in their adult lives, however; negative media representation leads many to stay silent about these experiences.  We now know that that silence and isolation can make an experience of hearing voices more distressing and harder to navigate.

With the Hearing Voices approach, we create space for voice-hearers to share their experiences in all their individual complexity.  We see over and over the healing value of articulating what our voices say, how long they have been in our lives, and what life events they might relate to.  We have seen the importance of making room for trauma-informed and culturally-competent understandings of both why voices/visions occur and what healing practices are available.

The following film features American voice-hearers from many walks of life.  By sharing it you uplift the stories of parents, a veteran, people of different generations and backgrounds who hear voices and have found healing community in the Hearing Voices Network.  You can offer hope to those for whom the standard narrative of voice-hearing does not fit or for whom the conventional psychiatric approach has not alleviated their suffering.  By spreading this message, you offer new ways forward to those who support voice-hearers in their families or in professional roles.

As the saying goes, “If we can’t see it, we can’t be it.”  Our hope is that everyone will have the opportunity to view this film and envision new possibilities for inclusive communities for voice-hearers.  Our dream is that one day every American will have awareness of and access to Hearing Voices Network supports.  Please reach out if you want to learn more about bringing Hearing Voices groups, trainings or panel discussions to your local community.

Caroline Mazel-Carlton currently serves as Director of Training for the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (WMRLC), promoting an ethos of self-determination and mutual support in a number of settings across the globe. She has been privileged to be a facilitator/trainer for the “Alternatives to Suicide” approach for over five years, promoting conversation and connection over the current paradigm of “risk assessment.” Caroline also works towards developing regional networks of support for voice-hearers in her role as Training Coordinator for the national Hearing Voices Research and Development Project.

She first interfaced with psychiatry at the age of eight, and years later was able to find a path out of a world defined by diagnoses and medications through roller derby and social activism. Since moving out of a staffed group home, she has worked tirelessly to create change in the mental health system, developing and re-defining peer roles and values in various organizations in North Carolina and Massachusetts.

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