Hearing voices is a common human experience. Voice hearing is a natural variation of the human experience and is more common than left-handedness. Research shows 4-10% of the population hear voices. The fact that so many people hear voices and are not ill or unwell shows that hearing voices, in and of itself, is not a sign of mental ill health.

At the Hearing Voices Network of WA (HVNWA), we want to ensure all ‘voice hearers’ feel welcome and recognise that ‘voice hearing’ is not the only phenomenon that people experience; when we refer to ‘hearing voices’, we mean the range of different or extreme sensory experiences, including seeing, feeling and smelling.

Hearing Voices Network

The Hearing Voices Network WA (HVNWA) is a Richmond Wellbeing program and part of the global Hearing Voices Movement. We work to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices and acceptance of all individual differences. HVNWA is a resource for people living in Western Australia who hear voices and experience other unusual perceptions, offering a place for the voice-hearing community to access relevant information, training, and hearing voices support groups.

hearing voices

What is it like to hear voices?

When people think about ‘voices’ they usually think of negative or distressing voices, and forget that voice hearing comes in many forms – tribal voices of healers and shamans, spiritual voices of angels and guides, psychic voices of people on the other side, as well as everyday voices that people hear upon waking or sleeping. Hearing voices can be regarded as a meaningful, real experience that might be better understood in the context of personal circumstances.
Voice experiences are unique to the individual and can include; sound, vision, smell, taste and touch. These can be encouraging and comforting, or confusing and frightening. Voices can be clear or muffled, loud or barely audible. They can be the voices of someone the person knows, a complete stranger, or a non-verbal sound like knocking, scraping, crying or music. Another experience is smell; perhaps a favourite food from the past or a scent from a traumatic experience. Food may appear to have an unusually strong taste. A sense of touch can include feeling as though something is crawling over or under the skin, being tickled or being pushed.

The fact that so many people hear voices and are not ill or unwell shows that hearing voices, in and of itself, is not a sign of mental ill health.

What can I do?

For people who are distressed by the voices they hear, there are a number of things people find helpful on their journey to achieving the life they want:

  • Read and Research stories of recovery from other voice hearers and the hearing voices approach. YouTube is filled with everyday stories about recovery as well as information, interviews and lectures from the leaders in the Hearing Voices Movement. You can also attend one of our regular free Information Sessions to find out more and ask questions.
  • Talk & Connect with Hearing Voices Groups – Hearing Voices Groups offer a safe place to talk about one’s experiences and share ideas and strategies for coping. It is here that people really come to realise that they are not alone. Group members are encouraged and supported to make sense of their experiences and to find healthy ways to cope. Groups can be ‘self help’ in style – they can be peer-led groups or worker-led groups. They can be therapeutic, social or supportive in style and groups can be open or closed.
  • Learn Coping Strategies that enhance your wellbeing. While some people have lots of unhealthy coping strategies, learning about life-enhancing strategies throughout your journey can shift the course of distress significantly. Strategies range from cognitive and behavioural to physical activities and lifestyle choices.

Ready to find out more about hearing voices?

Start your journey of recovery now. Find a Hearing Voices Group near you.
Look through our Hearing Voices news and articles for more resources or find our next free Information Session.

Richmond Wellbeing also supports the development of new community Hearing Voices Groups. Contact us to learn more about hearing voices and the hearing voices approach.

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