Assessing the Impact and Effectiveness of Hearing Voices Network Self-Help Groups


The Hearing Voices Network (HVN) is an influential service-user led organisation that promotes self-help as an important aspect of recovery. This study presents the first systematic assessment of the impact and effectiveness of HVN self-help groups. A customized 45-item questionnaire, the Hearing Voices Groups Survey, was sent to 62 groups affiliated with the English HVN. 101 responses were received. Group attendance was credited with a range of positive emotional, social and clinical outcomes. Aspects that were particularly valued included: opportunities to meet other voice hearers, provision of support that was unavailable elsewhere, and the group being a safe and confidential place to discuss difficult issues. Participants perceived HVN groups to facilitate recovery processes and to be an important resource for helping them cope with their experiences. Mental health professionals can use their expertise to support the successful running of these groups.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Barrowclough, C., Haddock, G., Lobban, F., Jones, S., Siddle, R., Roberts, C., & Gregg, L. (2006). Group cognitive–behavioural therapy for schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry, 189(6), 527–532.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Corstens, D., Longden, E., McCarthy-Jones, S., Waddingham, R., & Thomas, N. (2014). Emerging perspectives from the hearing voices movement: Implications for research and practice. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 40(S4), S285–S294.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  3. Dillon, J., & Hornstein, G. A. (2013). Hearing voices peer support groups: A powerful alternative for people in distress. Psychosis, 5(3), 286–295.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Dillon, J., & Longden, E. (2012). Hearing voices groups: Creating safe spaces to share taboo experiences. In M. Romme & S. Escher (Eds.), Psychosis as a personal crisis: An experience based approach (pp. 129–139). London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Dos Santos, B., & Beavan, V. (2015). Qualitatively exploring hearing voices network support groups. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 10(1), 26–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Downs, J. (2005). Coping with voices and visions. Manchester: The Hearing Voices Network.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Goodliffe, L., Hayward, M., Brown, D., Turton, W., & Dannahy, L. (2010). Group person-based cognitive therapy for distressing voices: Views from the hearers. Psychotherapy Research, 20(4), 447–461.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Hendry, G. L. (2011). What are the experiences of those attending a self-help hearing voices group: An interpretative phenomenological approach (D.Clin.Psychol dissertation). Retrieved from White Rose eTheses

  9. James, A. (2001). Raising our voices: An account of the Hearing Voices Movement. Gloucester. England: Handsell.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Jones, N., Marino, C. K., & Hansen, M. C. (2016). The Hearing Voices Movement in the United States: Findings from a national survey of group facilitators. Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches, 8(2), 106–117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Longden, E., Corstens, D., & Dillon, J. (2013). Recovery, discovery and revolution: The work of Intervoice and the hearing voices movement. In S. Coles, S. Keenan & B. Diamond (Eds.), Madness contested: Power and practice, pp. 161–80. Ross-on-Wye. England: PCCS.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Oakland, L., & Berry, K. (2015). “Lifting the veil”: A qualitative analysis of experiences in Hearing Voices Network groups. Psychosis, 7(2), 119–129.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Romme, M. (2009). Hearing voices groups. In M. Romme, S. Escher, D. Corstens, J. Dillon & M. Morris (Eds.), Living with voices: Fifty stories of recovery. Ross-on-Wye, pp. 73–85. England: PCCS.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Romme, M., & Escher, S. (1993). Accepting voices. London: Mind.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Romme, M., & Escher, S. (2000). Making sense of voices. London: Mind.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Romme, M., Escher, S., Dillon, J., Corstens, D., & Morris, M. (2009). Living with voices: Fifty stories of recovery. Ross-on-Wye. England: PCCS.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Woods, A. (2013). The voice-hearer. Journal of Mental Health, 22(3), 263–270.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Wykes, T., Hayward, P., Thomas, N., Green, N., Surguladze, S., Fannon, D., & Landau, S. (2005). What are the effects of group cognitive behaviour therapy for voices? A randomised control trial. Schizophrenia Research, 77(2–3), 201–210.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eleanor Longden.

Ethics declarations

Ethical Approval

Ethical approval was received from the Committee on Research Ethics at the University of Liverpool and all participants provided written consent. Funding for this study was received from the Hearing the Voice project at the University of Durham, which is funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award. Jacqui Dillon and Eleanor Longden have a non-financial professional association with the Hearing Voices Network and Jacqui Dillon provides paid training on facilitating and supporting hearing voices groups.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Longden, E., Read, J. & Dillon, J. Assessing the Impact and Effectiveness of Hearing Voices Network Self-Help Groups. Community Ment Health J 54, 184–188 (2018).

Download citation


  • Group psychotherapy
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Psychosocial interventions
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Social functioning
  • Vocational rehabilitation