Tuning in to 'Hearing Voices'

Have you ever heard your name called in a crowd? Turned around to see who called you only to realize the voice must have sprung from your own mind?

Between 5 and 28 percent of the general population hears voices that others do not. There are many reasons how or why this happens besides mental illness, however, that doesn’t prevent it from being a taboo subject to discuss outside of hospitals or doctor offices.

Overcoming stigma is not the only issue those who hear voices must face and overcome, finding compassionate care for their condition can also be a challenge. And while many social workers, psychologists, and nurses are able to sympathize with clients, empathizing is another matter.

Until now.

Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, Manager of Clinical Initiatives and Training, Denise Beagley, who completed her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, is helping address this issue with a professional development course called “Hearing Voices Workshop” taught at the CABHP. Through use of headphones, course participants are immersed in an experience of hearing critical, degrading and neutral to distressing voices. Denise explains the process further.

“Hearing Voices Workshop exposes participants to what many of those who hear voices experience on a daily basis. The goal is to aid them in becoming more effective in helping their clients once they have received a small idea of what they often deal with. First we expose them to what the condition is like, then we ask them to complete a series of tasks (such as taking a mental status exam in a mock psychiatric emergency room setting), while the headphones are still on.”

Course participants also learn how to teach self-help skills to voice hearers and how to provide educational services that can help reduce the fear and stigma associated with the condition.

The next Hearing Voices Workshop is Aug. 29, at the Westward Ho located on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Click here for more information and to register.