Last week I had the pleasure of completing the HVN faciltator training offered by John Herold of Puget Sound Hearing Voices. The Hearing Voices Network is an international program to help people work with the experience of hearing voices and other extreme experiences. Hearing Voices groups encourage people to discuss their experience in a non-pathologizing framework, and helps folks connect with one another and find new meaning and community amidst these extraordinary experiences.
Here’s a small JPG of the event flyer:
The event was co-sponsored by FolkTime, the Southwest Washington Community Health Advocate & Peer Support Network, and the Center for Excellence in Mental Health. Portland Hearing Voices also helped out with recruitment and networking.
Some of the most important principles of HVN that were presented at this training (based on the HVN charter):
- Freedom to interpret experiences in any way
- Freedom to challenge social norms
- Freedom to talk about anything– not just voices and visions
- No assumption of illness
- Acceptance that voices and visions, tactile sensations, and other unusual or extraordinary experiences are real
- No assumption that these experiences are always bad, without value, or needing to be stopped
- The person having these experiences is in the best position to decide or discover what they mean, and what they want to do about them
- Everyone present is responsible for creating an environment that centers respect, support and empathy
I felt really positive about my experience training with these folks, and the integrity, honestly, and real relationships that developed among the folks at the training were heartwarming. I hope to include these perspectives in my therapy practice and my approach to helping people work with the experiences that are labeled as bipolar disorder.
It is good to know there are other folks out there who are working with ‘bipolar disorder,’ ‘psychosis,’ and other extraordinary experiences from a non-pathologizing frame that honors the value of human experience, while also helping people navigate society and build the life they want. I’m happy to be a part of that!