Know that I don’t recommend, don’t make recommendations, except the one recommendation to not ask me for a recommendation. This is not a recommendation it is, probably, as close as it gets to one.
I will say that this book would probably feature – if I could be arsed to make one – in a top five most important books I’ve read, and certainly top three most useful.
It’s also one of only two books I ever read cover-to-cover in one sitting.
Despite some misconceptions, Voice Dialogue is not invented by or in the hearing voices movement but is an approach many have adopted and adapted.
Embracing ourselves is about recognising that each of us has within us some kind of multiple experiences, there are many names we can call them, this book does not tell us what to call them suggests we simply call them whatever works for us.
They do offer a few suggestions, as examples and illustration for those who have learned to close down-their more imaginative, creative selves.
if you like lots of structure and if you like being told what to call your experience, directed how to judge, categorise and “correct” any deemed by some theory or tradition as “incorrect”, “unhealthy”, or just plain “wrong” or “bad” or “evil” selves within you then you’ll find this isn’t that .
Authors Hal & Sidra Stone work as therapists, from Jungian perspective, and developed this approach in working with couples.
The basic premise is that each of us has within us several selves, and that one or more will likely be more strongly developed than others, perhaps to the point of over-reliance – and that others will be under-developed and maybe under-used.
Unlike other approaches, they suggest all these have usefulness and purpose in our lives.
What might happen – and what we might be unaware of but that others with whom we are in close-relationship are acutely aware of- is how we tend to rely on our more developed selves more than might be good, and underuse or even neglect our other less developed selves. This come out in relationship, and the closer the relationship the more evident it is to the other person, at eh same time.we are more unaware.
Being unaware of this and having not learned how to work with our own selves and other peoples selves is source of difficulty in relationships.
If we can learn ways to be more aware and ware of the choices we are making subconsciously we can learn to make different choices.
Embracing involves a lot of accepting. Learning to accept all our selves, learning how to recognise their strengths but also recognise when we can choose to develop others, develop other strengths
There is no right terminology, there is no right arrangement or structure, none are categorized, labelled as “positive” or “negative”, they just are, each a part of a whole that is dynamic, fluid, and navigating that is a question of exploring and coming to know, continually learning and understanding and becoming familiar with our own personal “inner” landscape, and our place in it.
VOICE DIALOGUE IS NOT THERAPY
Voice dialogue is not therapy – indeed they suggest that the work is best done by a person who has not trained as a therapust – because therapists have been trained in and have adopted, maybe even required to adopt, a particular theory or model or idea of what is “right” and how things “should be”, some “right” way to interpret, or some goal to aim for and this can get in the way of true dialogue.
It is hard for a therapist to not push their pet theory or pet ther’py upon us.
Hal & Sidra Stone suggest the role of person working with someone who wants to embark on dialoguing is that of facilitator: simply looking after the process of dialoguing with parts, selves, voices, spirits, or whatever you call yours.
Here’s a video you can watch Hal Stone talking of The Power of Voice Dialogue [9.48].
Why “de-escalate” when you can choose to UN_ESCALATE ?
UN_ESCALATE is different: starts in a different place and carves a different path.
These are difficult times and this is difficult work: how might we approach it first as human beings?
Why “UN_ESCALATE” ?
Many asked at the end of other workshops: “Do you do anything on de-escalation?” My usual response was “no because I don’t think of it that way.” Then three years ago I took on the challenge and asked myself: “Ok, so how do I see it and what might I offer ?” and this is it.
Most “de-escalation trainings” is focused on an assumption that a client is “escalating” and is thus “in-need-of-need-de-escalating” by an expert – a worker – who is expert in “de-escalating” clients who are deemed to be “in-need-of-de-escalating”. And, if that sounds like circular logic, that’s because it is.
Different, and intentionally so.
Starts in a different place and carves a different path.
Shares ideas, tools from many sources including: systems thinking and relational dynamics, peace building, peer support, health promotion, generative somatics, and life.
Focused on ways we can critically examine how services are designed and operated , to not do – or to undo – some of the many things that get done to people who access services that lead them to react in ways that get called “escalating” and results in them being deemed a “person in need of de-escalation”.
If we do this then, maybe, we’ll find ourselves thinking that we need to “de-escalate” another person less often.
“Yeah, we do things round here all the time that ‘escalate’ people, then when they tell us we suck we ban them.”
UN_ESCALATE : Some basic assumptions.
No individual escalates all by themself. We each “escalate“: in response to something in our environment, and in context of our whole life experience.
Whatever a person is doing is both an expression of a deeply felt need, and a survival response.
Whatever survival response we tend to fall back on is likely one that we’ve learned from how life has treated us and one that’s worked so far… but is also not the only one and may not the best one for this moment.
The only person I can “de-escalate” is me. None of us can “de-escalate” another.
We can though, act to de-escalate the situation in which we both find ourselves.
We can also critically examine how we design and deliver services so we can generate environments that are less likely to drive people to “escalate” so that we will think we “need to de-escalate them” less often.
Q. How might we draw upon experiences of being in the role of worker required to “de-escalate” a person said to be “in need of de-escalation”?
Q. How might we draw upon experiences of having been that person said to be “in need of de-escalation”?
Q. How might we go beyond the operationalization, steps, and rules-based approach of “de-escalation” and instead UN_ESCALATE?
This is a one-day workshop in three parts, offered here over three half-days, three Monday mornings in May 2022.
a WORKshop for WORKers…
Sharing ideas, thinking tools and practical stuff you can use so you can suck less.
This workshop is designed to share some ideas , tools and approaches we can use to examine how we can change the way we approach situations in which it is usually said that an individual is “in need of de-escalation”.
Part One shares and examines some ideas on how we might look upon and understand how escalation works and how power plays out in that.
Part Two creates opportunity – after a few days reflection- to explore using some of these ideas, individually and or in combination, to examine how we work in services in ways that lead people to “escalate” and generate practical ideas for changing how we work in these situations, including systemic changes and also personal choices we make in how we go about the work.
– including generating ideas for change in our own work and practices and also: different choices we can make starting from our next shift.
Part Three: Skills Practice. Working in small groups, you’ll create real scenarios you come across in your work and want time to practice: thinking, doing differently, using the ideas and tools shared in parts 1 & 2, feeling how it feels in your body, reflecting and building confidence.
Designed as small, interactive, participatory workshop .
The most common feedback from participants: “Best workshop I’ve ever attended”
Hearing Voices Workshop #1 Accepting Voices
A one day workshop – IN PERSON.
This introductory and foundational workshop will open doors of new understanding, in non-diagnostic, non-categorizing ways, of a range of human experiences [like difficult-to-hear voices that no-one else hears] that get called names like “psychosis”.
This workshop is designed especially for those who work in health and social services but is open to all who want to learn how they can better support a person who struggles.
Many who find themselves struggling to support loved ones who struggle and find themselves bewildered and frustrated by the help offered by services have also attended and found it useful for them. Indeed, we find it creates a richer experience when we can come together and learn with and from each other.
The world, society, and culture that we have created for ourselves and each other is not fit for humans. Join in co-creating one that is.
Hearing Voices Workshop #1: Accepting Voices
Monday 2nd May 2022
Full Day Workshop – IN PERSON
This is designed as a small group, interactive and participatory workshop.
Spaces are limited – 20 places
In association with:
We are grateful for Church of The Holy Trinity for use of the space and support for our work.
Tilt your universe, blow your mind and / or gain a whole new perspective on experiences that we’re taught to fear and to believe that we can’t possibly understand. This workshop will show you tat you can understand, and in simple, human terms.
We’ll be joined by some cool folks working at the intersections of trauma, psychosis, homelessness and in a system that many can see is overwhelmed and creaking at the seams.
No amount of more of the same will ever be enough.
It’s time we started doing things differently.
You can start here at this Workshop.
“You gave me a whole new way of thinking about voices”
“I’m not quite sure what I learned but I feel like my whole Universe has been tilted”
“Eye opening, Stunned”
Who needs to attend this workshop?
“Everyone working in mental health. Scatch that: EVERYONE !!!”
This workshop offers a beginning, an introduction to a non-diagnostic, non-medical, human experience perspective understanding of the kinds of experiences – like difficult-to-hear voices- that are often categorised as “psychosis”.
A key part is making connections between pain, trauma psychosis powerlessness and disconnectedness we can experience when we find ourselves feared and discarded by society.
Q. Do you…?
Work with people who hear voices and who struggle with their experience of that?
Have someone in your life who hears voices and struggles with difficult experiences that get called “psychosis
Feel limited in your ability to understand and support them?
Feel frustrated at how the story that voices must mean illness limits us – not only the lives of people who hear voices, but all of us?
Feel weary of the notion that we must fear ourselves and fear each other?
Want to understand connections between adverse events, trauma , injury woundedness, pain and difficult-to-hear voices.
Want to minimise the additional trauma generated by how services are typically designed and operated when working to support those who face being rendered powerlessness and disconnected from society?
Feel ready to learn more, and find you keep asking yourself “what else can I do?”.
Want to know more about how you can be part of creating the future, and join in with enacting a world that understands and is better able to offer real support?
Q. Are Ready to “tilt your universe”?
If so, then this workshop might help you tilt your universe and emancipate yourself with very simple and very human ways to understand and begin to act to support a person who struggles with difficult experiences that get called names like “psychosis”.
Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who hear voices and struggle.
Note: If you’re looking for a workshop on how to diagnose and categorise your friends, family and colleagues and / or just what what dehumanizing names you can yourself and them, and others then please know that this is not that workshop.
Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who live with experiences that get called names like “psychosis” and that can be difficult to live with and more difficult to talk about.
Join us in enacting a world that understands voice hearing, supports the needs of people who hear voices and regards them as full citizens.
This Workshop is part of a structured and modular approach to learning ways of supporting people who struggle.
As a first step that is designed to offer a basic grounding but also foundation for further, deeper learning and practice in supporting people who struggle with experiences like difficult-to-hear voices that get called “psychosis”.
Participation in this workshop is prerequisite to other more advanced and learning opportunities, eg…
Working With Voices
Starting and Sustaining Hearing Voices Groups In Your Community
Carnival des Voix [running your own]
Working with Maastricht Interview
Facilitating Voice Dialogue
Workshop #1 Accepting Voices
This unique and innovative workshop offers you a non-diagnostic understanding of the kinds of experience like hearing voices that are that are sometimes called “psychosis”.
We offer you simple, everyday language to show you how you can understand such experiences not as “disconnected from” but intimately connected with reality and in ways that can be overwhelming, painful, frustrating, sometimes terrifying response to the reality we share,
It also offers a framework you can use to connect and draw from your own experiences to help you truly empathize and understand how better to support people who might be undergoing such difficult experiences.
You’ll leave feeling more at ease with both yourself and your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle.
Join us in enacting a society that understands voice hearing, supports individuals who hear voices and views them as full citizens…
What you can expect
This workshop will enable you better to …
Understand hearing voices [and other experiences] as a normal human experience, that can become problematic when a person is left to struggle without support.
Share simple data and stories about just how common it is to hear voices – how it is not in itself a problem and many people do – some cultures regard it as bringing great benefit.
Peer through and beyond diagnostic frameworks – resist the urge to catalogue and categorize everything you witness as “symptom” and instead.
Take an interest in the person struggling with their experience of voices and other experiences called “psychosis” as a human being having a hard time.
Begin to accept even the most difficult of human experiences as something that can be understood, explored and even valued.
Look within your own experience and relate with different experiences like hearing voices, visions, unshared beliefs.
Explore how you can be at ease in your role and be more real with people who have difficult experiences.
Offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle with experiences like hearing voices.
Connect yourself with a community of people doing just that.
Who this workshop is designed for…
We believe the hearing voices approach is part of broader human liberatory approaches around the world and is emancipatory for all. As Lilla Watson is credited with put it so wonderfully…
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
If, in your work, you work with you come into contact with people who hear voices and who struggle with that; and you have experienced how that can leave you feeling uncomfortable or worse, then we think you’ll find this one day workshop useful.
So, if you’re a doctor, nurse, social worker, community worker, housing worker, peer support worker, psychologist, therapist, police officer, etc. then it may be for you.
Families, carers, everyone.
The workshop is also highly suitable for you if you love, live with, care for people in your life who hear voices and struggle with that – and you have come to realise the limitations of an approach that limits understanding to illness-brain chemicals and you are curious about how else you may understand, and what else you can do…
This is an intensive workshop covering a lot of ground, together we will :
Gain insights from people who hear voices, and from others who work with people who hear voices.
Learn how we can think differently about voices and other experiences that are sometimes called “psychosis”.
Explore how, as workers, we can accept ourselves and each other, relax and enjoy our work: the better to offer support for people who hear voices.
Interact – with deep personal reflection, shared sense-making and dialogue.
We will also share some simple, practical approaches that you can use in your practice on return to work.
Connect with resources and both local network and the global hearing voices community.
This workshop is designed to leave you feeling more competent and confident in your own ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space for people who hear voices.
You will not become an expert in one day but you’ll have a good basis for starting and feeling more comfortable – and more human – as you do.
Please feel free to help us let people know about this workshop by printing, posting, distributing, however you can with your networks…
About the Presenters, Facilitators, Designers
Kevin Healey hears more voices than you can shake a stick at, so many that even his voices hear voices, and has done so for longer than either he – or they – care to remember.
Founder and coordinator of http://www.recoverynet.ca, Toronto Hearing Voices group, Anglophone Canada’s longest running, and of the Hearing Voices Café.
Creates and delivers innovative, taboo-busting talks, trainings and workshops that enable people to find new language, and simpler ways to understand surprisingly common human experiences that we’ve made fearful and taboo, so making life even harder both for those who struggle and also for the rest of us to understand.
Shows how we can make simple sense of trauma, pain, psychosis, taboo, and butt-hurt voices, and how they interweave and interconnect our inner-struggle with living in an outer-world that is fast becoming unfit for humans who built it and in which we keep creating results that nobody wants. After you’ve heard him talk you may join those who say they don’t hear voices but now wish they could.
Also Coordinator for the Toronto branch of ISPS-US International Society for Social Psychological Approaches to Psychosis.
For many years Dave would only say only one word, now he authors articles at http://www.recoverynet.ca and moderates online support groups for voices to talk directly with each other round the world, and he coaches and co-presents in workshops for approaches like voice dialogue.
Enjoys creating memes: out of things voices say, about living in a universe that mostly comprises what he refers to as The Weird, and his own wry observations on the human obsession with calling each other horrible names, categorizing and crushing each other into boxes that don’t fit.
As Dave points out, voices have stories too. His favourite pastime is pretending to be a jelly bean, second is remarking upon how “voices” and “humans” behave in ways that are often very much the-one-is–like-the-other. Dave doesn’t really have a bio – like other superheroes he has an “Origins Story”, and like “The Truth…”, at least some of it, “is Out There…”
Mark has many years experience as “worker” with a major social services agency, and has worked with many who struggle with the kind of experiences that get called “psychosis”.
He shares his personal perspective of how being confronted with his own dark side enabled him to relate more simply and authentically with difficult experiences of the people he works with, in-process, freeing himself from merely following “the script” and playing “invisible worker” so that he can be both more professional and more human.
His ability to share stories of his own experience of learning how to do this work offers others hope that they can too.
Why we choose to use the term hearing voices, what we mean by it…
Hearing voices is intentional, ordinary language descriptive of a range of human experiences that in Western cultures has been mystified and made taboo, and that we have been taught to fear – and yet which are also remarkably common, likely much more common than you think. No everyone uses this language, all kinds of people live with experiences they might call voices, some choose other languages.
Hearing voices does not presuppose neither that a voice can only come from a human body, nor must be heard by more than one person, or more especially must be also heard by someone called a “mental health professional” .
Hearing Voices as Approach also refers to broadly emancipatory ideas and ways of working that accepts such experiences as very real and meaningful- if sometimes difficult to live with, and that seeks to share ways we can learn to live with such difficult experiences and support and connect with each other.
This approach also includes many other similar experiences that can be hard to live with and harder to talk about and make sense of.
When we learn to put aside our fear of both ourselves and each other we generate possibilities, to create new roles, to connect with each other, and to find richer experiences of being human and co-create a world that’s easier to live in for all of us.