World Congress on Hearing Voices Maastricht Holland Sept 2009

19th November 2008
First Announcement and Call for Papers
World Congress ”Hearing Voices” 17th – 18th September 2009

World Hearing Voices Day in Maastricht, Holland

INTERVOICE, the international association responsible for promoting the interests of people who hear voices has decided to hold a World Congress in September 2009 to bring together people concerned with hearing voices to exchange information and ideas.

We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to participate and play an active part by being a presenter in our proposed open congress. Specifically, we want you to share your experiences of research; education; training courses; mental health care services – and of course – the voice hearing experience itself.

Themes: Experiences: Research: Training: Practice

You can download a print version of this announcement here. Please distribute, forward pass on, add links etc. so we can get this information as widely as possible.


Right from the beginning of the hearing voices movement there has been strong interest among voice hearers, professionals and carers in the issue from around the world – this interest continues to grow today.

Over the last twelve years INTERVOICE has held relatively small gatherings with representatives from the different countries where networks and hearing voices groups have been active. Now the number of countries active in our network has grown to 21 as more and more professionals and people hearing voices have become involved, this has been accompanied by increasing amounts of research and training being carried out internationally. This successful development of our network is largely based on the real evidence that this approach of “accepting and making sense of voices” that we have adopted, works for people and leads to recovery. Further, there is evidence that those voice hearers who had developed into chronic patients have succeeded in wresting themselves away from the traditional psychiatric approach by joining the hearing voices movement and reclaiming their lives.

On the basis of the existence of healthy voice hearers and the experiences of those people who recovered from the distress with their voices we wish to further explore the implications for the psychiatric concept of illness regarding the experience of hearing voices and the personal, political and social implications of this work.


We would like to bring together:

  • people who hear voices and who have recovered; family members and friends

  • academics who wrote their theses, PhD’s and Masters on hearing voices;

  • those who have conducted clinical and social research on the relationship between trauma and hearing voices, as well as emotional neglect and other psychosocial influences;

  • those who have carried out epidemiological research on hearing voices in the general population, or research on different therapies;

  • those who have developed training programs and courses on the subject; those who gathered specific experiences with voice hearers in crisis periods;

  • those who work in early intervention teams or with special groups like children hearing voices and voices in periods of grief etc.

We are actively seeking the participation of voice hearers who can cope with their voices and voice hearers who are inspired by their voices and find them helpful. In our view, this is a most significant group of people, as they provide living proof to scientists and clinicians that voice hearing is an experience beyond an illness. This would include an input from voice hearers or concerning the experience of hearing voices in non-western cultures. We intend to have a in depth discussion on the value of focussing on the voice hearing experience itself and the being open to the problems that lie at their roots.

They are one of the most important foundations of the hearing voices movement, therefore the participation of this group is essential and we intend to ensure that as many of them as possible will actively participate in the Congress.

Issues we would like to discuss:


We would like to consider:

  • the combined experience of hearing voices with paranoia or personal convictions;

  • voices and visions;

  • voices and self harm; relationships with emotional dynamics like voices and dissociation;

  • voices and acting out;

  • voices and emotional blocking;

  • voices and over-activity.

We would be particularly interested in hearing about the direct experiences in relation to:

  • voices and inspiration;

  • voices and emotions;

  • the metaphoric expressiveness of voices;

  • personal power structures and voices;

  • the characteristics of the voices;

  • how they express the relationship with life experiences;

  • changing the relationship with one’s voices.

Therapies and interventions

In recent years there has been a growing interest in hearing voices from different psycho-therapeutic approaches as well as the more mainstream cognitive behavioural therapies and the influence of these interventions continues to grow. An exchange of the similarities and differences in approach would be enlightening. As with the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) approach and the pure language approach of Grover. We would also like to hear from and exchange experiences with using complementary therapies like regression, narrative and reincarnation therapies etc.

Debates and discussions

Topics that could be included:

  • Hearing voices as a human variation to be respected and not discriminated against

  • Hearing voices in history

  • Hearing voices in different cultures and subcultures.

  • Hearing voices as a source of information about ones emotions.

  • Hearing voices as a source of inspiration.

  • Hearing voices experiences in the general population.

  • Voices as reaction to traumatic experiences and emotional neglect.

  • Hearing voices and the politics of power relationships.

  • Hearing voices in research (epidemiological; trauma; personal interaction; impact on the body)

  • Hearing voices in the diversity of psychotherapies.

  • Hearing voices as source of inspiration in thesis and PhD’s.

  • The hearing voices movement and the need for change of attitude in mental health care.

  • Characteristics of hearing voices like their metaphorical language; their power structure etc.

  • Hearing voices and emotional coping patterns like dissociation; acting out; blocking; over activity.

  • Hearing voices in relation to the person’s life history. Hearing voices as survival strategy etc.

  • Hearing voices as proof of social political injustice.

  • Hearing voices and the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Coping with hearing voices and the problems at their roots.

  • Approaching hearing voices in crisis episodes.

On the basis of the existence of healthy voice hearers and the experiences of those people who recovered from the distress with their voices we also hope to have an in depth discussion with the pharmaceutical industry about the appropriate use of medication. It will also be interesting to have a discussion on the political and social implications of this work.

Would you be willing to take part?

INTERVOICE invites you to put the date(s) of the world congress in your diary and let Paul Baker the secretary know if you are interested in taking part and let him know what topic you would like to present or bring to the Congress as a lecture, workshop, poster discussion etc. You can also ask Paul for the address of the hearing voices network in your country. email Paul Baker

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