Stories to Awaken the Inner hero

We have completed our series of workshops, Stories to Awaken your Inner Hero in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland with Dr Lewis Mehl-Madrona and Barbara Mainguy. What a great workshop it was. We discovered the healing power of story, the emotional power of using metaphor. The gift it was to be able to listen to someones life challenges, and turn it into a Heros story, using metaphor. The story of Pack rat and First mother, told by Lewis, reminding us all, just like the Heros, not to give up. That by creating a metaphorical story we we become the hero and succeeds, our brains, and spirits began to start searching for a way to create that success on a deeper level.

Uplifting, and engaging.

Here is an interview with Lewis and Barbara before the workshops, talking about it.

Heroes story interview Lewis Mehl Madrona & Barbara Mainguy

A series of Workshops with Lewis Mehl-Madrona and Barbara Mainguy in New Zealand

We are excited to announce we have organised a series of workshops with Lewis Mehl-Madrona and Barbara Mainguy for March 2015. Thanks to funding from the Lotteries Board and also the ASB Community trust find.

We will also be offering four free places in Auckland and Whangarei workshops for people with cultural knowledge/ expertise. Those who know the stories of our people and the land in each area. Email me to apply for these places.

The workshops we are offering are

1) Narrative Medicine- Storytelling in West Auckland and in Russell Bay of Islands

2) Remapping your Mind & Sacred Drama in Manakau and Whangarei

3) Cherokee Bodywork in Russell, Bay of Islands.

You can also see all the info on our website here and download registration forms and PDFS of the fliers,

David Healy and Robert Whittaker Coming to NZ September 2011

Some of you may have heard of David Healy before, as Richard Bentall spoke about his book “let them eat Prozac”. Casper – are bringing both him and Robert Whittaker to New Zealand for Friday 2nd September 2011. Registrations close AUG 19 so get in quick!!
Here is a link to his website
Also accompanying him is Robert Whittaker- here is a link to a video of him speaking.
Very fascinating video I might add.
I have also imbedded another video on Robert Whittaker below

Phone: 09 442 1581 Mobile: 021 066 1872 Email:




Conversation with ourselves- an interview with Ron Coleman NZ Herald.

The following is an excellent interview conducted by Chris Barton in today Saturday 4th Junes Weekend Herald in New Zealand. Chris interviewed Ron Coleman here in Auckland and attended one of the workshops the Hearing Voices Network held there.

You can see the article on the New Zealand Heralds website here.

Here is the article below:

“You have voices telling you to kill yourself. Do you ask them why?”
No, they don’t listen.

“If I told you to go and stand in the middle of the road, you wouldn’t do it.”
No, if you told me to I wouldn’t.

“If I asked you to do it you would want a reason, but you don’t want a reason from the voices.”
Yes I do.

“Then ask them.”

This is not one’s idea of a normal conversation, but for the participants it makes perfect, potentially life-altering sense. Ron Coleman has just begun a workshop at Western Springs Community Hall on a radical self-help technique called voice dialogue.

In a five-minute conversation with a young woman he draws out, to her considerable surprise, an outline of her situation. She hears two negative middle-aged voices – one male, the other female. The male voice is worse.

She is also dealing with drug addiction, but that’s not the cause of her voices. They began when she was 10.

She has never asked what the male voice is called.

The woman is clearly astounded by Coleman’s revelation that she can ask her voices for information. “Nobody’s suggested that to you before,” he tells her, “because we are caught in the world of voices rather than having dialogue about it.”

Coleman, diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1982, should know. He spent 10 years in and out of British psychiatric hospitals, including six as a mostly compulsorily “sectioned” in-patient. During that time he was heavily medicated with a range of antipsychotic drugs and given 40 sessions of ECT.

Today he lives happily with his wife, family and seven voices. The workshop at the Western Springs Community Hall is part of a global grassroots organisation known as the Hearing Voices Network.

“What we try to do,” he tells the Herald, “is help people live with their voices.”

Born in Dundee, Scotland, Coleman turned his life around in 1991 when the Hearing Voices Network was just getting under way in Britain. He’s since gone on to become a key figure in the network and travels the world spreading its message and governing principle: “It doesn’t matter whether we conclude our voices are coming from ourselves or whether they are the voice of God or the voice of demons. We accept the diversity of everybody’s experience,” he tells another voice hearer.

“Do you hear a lot of voices?”
I hear angels.

“Are they all positive?”
Yes but sometimes my voices worry me because I worry about whether I’m saying it or whether the angels are saying it.

“So what is the purpose of angels?”
To guide me.

“So how do you test what they are saying is from the angels themselves?”
I say, ‘Is that the angels there?’

“And they say yes?”
Yes. But sometimes I don’t hear at all. I get scared because of some of the things I hear. I get scared because I don’t know if the devil can lie to me.

Coleman points out that that the devil was an angel – “an archangel and he was tossed out of heaven”. A good test as to whether an angel was talking, he suggests, would be if it asked her to do something to harm herself or anybody else. If it did, he says, that would be inconsistent with angels.

“See, I’m not going to change your mind whether there are angels or not. The only thing I’m interested in is whether it’s good for you. That it works for you.”

The network believes that auditory hallucinations or “voice hearing” shouldn’t be seen as something pathological that needs to be stopped, but rather as something meaningful and tied to the hearer’s life story. This tends to be at loggerheads with conventional psychiatry. Support groups around the world run by voice hearers for voice hearers openly challenge the standard psychiatric relationship of expert physician and psychotic patient, but increasingly some psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are seeing merit and logic in the Network’s approach.

Coleman says his recovery began when, at his first Hearing Voices group, someone told him his voices were real. “What I’d been told in the psychiatric system was that they weren’t real, they weren’t really there. That I had to ignore them and I couldn’t get involved with them. When they’re real it means you can do something about them.”

Hearing voices is like reading a really good book when you can hear the author’s characters. “As you read you can create the characters in your head. Imagine that externalised. That’s how it is with voices. You actually hear them.

“They have different characteristics. They speak with different accents. They are male or female. They are positive and negative.”

Hearing voices isn’t as unusual as we think. Many will have experienced it in the threshold consciousness between waking and falling asleep. There are also numerous examples of well-known and accomplished voice hearers throughout history.

“The Bible is written by voice hearers,” says Coleman. Think Moses and the burning bush and Jesus wandering for 40 days and 40 nights, hearing the devil’s temptations.

The roll call of other voice hearers is as variable as Winston Churchill, Socrates, Galileo, Pythagoras, Carl Jung, Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Teresa of Avila, Mohammed, William Blake, Zoe Wanamaker, St Francis of Assisi, Leonard Cohen and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Voice hearing, as Coleman’s own story demonstrates, is often linked to unresolved personal trauma. In his case he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest when he was 10 years old.

“My explanation for voices is that I created them because I needed to deal with what was going on.”

Coleman’s voices didn’t actually arrive until he was adult. Prior to that he had a different coping mechanism – rugby. “I played as prop and when I went into the scrum I’d put the face of the Catholic priest who abused me on to my opposite number and I’d just try to kill the guy.”

Then he broke his hip and couldn’t play rugby anymore.

“I ended up not having the outlet, but still having the priest in me as a constant reminder of everything and no way to get rid of my anger. Eventually it came out as voices.”

One of the first voices he heard was the priest telling him it was his fault. “That I led him into sin and I should burn in hell”.

Another voice was his father. “I felt like I’d failed my family so I had my father’s voice saying things like: ‘You’re no good. You’re f***ing worthless. You’re a failure’.”

Then there was the voice of first wife Annabelle who died suddenly. “She used to tell me to kill myself so we could be a family again. It was more about the fact that I missed her so much.”

Negotiating a way to cope with his voices took a year. With Annabelle he realised he could be with her as a voice. “I said: ‘I don’t need to die to be with you. I can be with you now – let’s talk’.” He’s since remarried and now has agreement with Annabelle only to talk to her on anniversaries.

His father’s voice changed from negative to positive after his family finally learned what happened to him as a child through a 1995 BBC Horizon documentary, Hearing Voices. His father asked why he never told him about the abuse. Because, said Coleman, he didn’t think anyone would believe him.

“My dad said yes he would, and he would have killed the priest.”

Coleman says he still hears the priest’s voice from time to time when he’s overworked and tired. What does the priest say now? “But I still think it was your fault.”

Coleman takes it as a sign that he needs to take time out and go fishing. “As soon as I hear him I tell him to f-off. ‘I’m not going to listen to you. I don’t need you. You have no power any more’.”

Getting to that point – where he could refuse to hear the priest – required dealing with his own guilt and shame. “I can’t change the past, but I’ve resolved my feelings about my own abuse.”

Another voice Coleman calls teacher. “That was my own voice – a voice trying to keep a bit of sanity in my mind. It’s always a voice of reason. In a funny sort of way I was externalising my own self rather than having inner dialogues. I tend to externalise it now, because I’m so used to hearing voices.”

There are three other positive voices – one called Dave who was someone he knew who died, and two other he keeps to himself. “The reason I don’t talk about them is I share an awful lot of my life and those are voices just for me.”

As well as providing support for voice hearers, the Hearing Voices Network is also a human rights movement – to protest at the way those diagnosed with schizophrenia are treated and to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. Coleman says he’d like to see professionals in mental health systems spend much more time listening to people before treating them.

“I would like acknowledgement when the treatment is not working that we do something different rather than give them other drugs or just increase the drugs.”

He wants proper informed consent too – people told about the reduced life expectancy downside of antipsychotic drugs before they are given them.

He believes that if there was a properly controlled test – comparing outcomes for voice hearers engaged with the network and those using the mental health system – the network would come out on top. “We’re saving lives.”

Coleman wears his diagnosis on his skin – a tattoo on his arm reads “Psychotic and Proud”. He did it to have a constant reminder of where he came from.

“It says I refuse to be ashamed about what happened to me. I refuse to be ashamed of my diagnosis and I refuse to be ashamed of the fact I was a psychiatric patient.”

Voice of reason

* The Hearing Voices Network, founded in Britain in 1988, developed from the research of Dutch psychiatrist Marius Romme.

* It has since grown into a global self-help organisation, active in 20 countries, for people who hear voices.

* Members advocate the use of techniques employed by those who have successfully coped with their voices. This can include acceptance and negotiation with the voices.
* Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa NZ has about 100 members and holds support groups in West Auckland, Grey Lynn, Glenfield, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington.

* Approximately 75 per cent of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, 20 per cent of patients with mania and 10 per cent with depression hear voices.

* About 30,000 New Zealanders are affected by schizophrenia.

Find out more on Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa NZ  part of international organisation Intervoice,

Ron Coleman workshops in Auckland and Wellington


Te Reo Orooro

Are hosting 1 day workshops  In Auckland and Wellington

ADVANCED “WORKING WITH VOICES”             with  Ron Coleman


Hearing voices is one of the most common experiences that people diagnosed with a psychotic illness have and research has shown that many people continue to hear voices even after prolonged use of medication. This has meant that many voice hearers do not get relief from their experiences. The consequence of this is that many people live lives that are low in quality and high in distress. Many professionals are left frustrated when medication does not deliver the desired results.

Ron Coleman has been active in the field of mental health since 1991, when affecting his own recovery from mental illness, he used his experiences to develop his ideas for recovery centered treatment of others. Since then he has went on to write numerous books and papers on the subject and was influential in the development of the Hearing Voices Network in the UK. Ron and his partner Karen travel around the world delivering trainings in this field through their company ‘Working To Recovery”.  RON IS DONATING HIS TIME FOR THE WELLINGTON WORKSHOP TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THOSE EFFECTED BY THE CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKE. ALL PROFITS FROM WELLINGTON WWORKSHOP WILL BE DONATED TO THE RED CROSS EARTHQUAKE FUND.

This one-day course is for people who have either been on the “Working with voices intro” day or have gained experience of working with voices either personally or in the workplace.

Throughout the day this course will

  • Support you in developing effective ways of working with voice hearers using short, medium and long term strategies
  • Enable you to use the above strategies to support voice hearers in taking control of their experience and more importantly getting on with their life.
  • Give you an introduction to the Maastricht interview schedule
  • Enable you to use the ‘Working with Voices Workbook’


When: 9.00am to 3.30 Pm

Auckland Wednesday  1st June 2011

Wellington: 9.30 to 4pm  Friday 3rd June 2011


Auckland: Western Springs Garden Community Hall, 956 Great North Rd, Western Springs Auckland

WELLINGTON : Film Archive Center Cnr Taranaki and Ghuznee St Wellington.

Cost: $120 for waged-We would like to encourage support people to bring a voice hearer with them. And offer a discount of for this i.e $100 instead of $140 for both people.    $20 for unwaged voice hearers . n.b Morning and afternoon tea provided. Participants to provide their own lunch.     We are a registered charity. These fees will help support our work.

Bookings: Call Lize   021 049 0887 (wellington) or Adrienne  (Auckland) at 0272650266 for more details or email:  for a registration form. Please note spaces are limited. If you want to come you will need to book asap. 

Pursuing the Knowledge of Wellbeing- event Friday 29 October 2010 Auckland

 Psychiatric Survivors Inc., the New Zealand Healing Association Inc, GROW,and the Patients Rights Advocacy Waikato organize:
 Pursuing the Knowledge of Wellbeing


Friday 29th October 2010 9.00 am to 4.30 pm 

Auckland Horticultural Centre, 990 Great North Rd, Western Springs

All are welcome, you can see registration details on the attached form.Looks to be a interesting day including the following:


Generation Rx (Miller K, 2009)A 80 minute film about millions of children who have been effectively forced onto pharmaceutical drugs for commercial rather than scientific reasons, withthe risk of devastating consequences.

Community Action on Suicide Prevention, Education & Research.Maria Bradshaw whose 17 year old son Toran committed suicide 15 days after being prescribed fluoxetine will present research data showing a causal link between psychiatric treatment and suicide and evidence that effective suicide prevention requires a social rather than medical approach.
Mental Wealth, Julian McCusker-Dixon .A Philosophy, an insight, and Welcome In 


Living Matrix (directed by Susan Berker, 2009) 100 minutes of exciting individual stories of the inherent capacities of body and mind to heal themselves if allowed and supported to do so. Quantum physics and energy psychology in action confirms thousands of years of observations of ancient healing.

Who Matters Most in Mental Illness? Gary De Forest. Different sides of the same story, aiming for mutually assured survival in the mental health system
 How We Know What We Know About Mental Illness,  Prof Borislav Dacic.If the body is biological and genetic, is mental illness a brain disease or biological and genetic failure in other body systems? Are the mind, soul and spirit important facets of what we believe are mental illnesses? Is the long term drug treatment an efficient and safe treatment in Mental Health? What are the side or direct effects of drugs? Like Minds like Mine or Mind Freedom? We need to talk on these mounting controversies in Mental Health and allow dialogue of different understanding and knowledge in order to get real on mental illness.

More information on 021-206 8759 and on (09) 846-9945 Cost is $40 waged $20 unwaged. 


Healthy Choices for Living with Voices- September 18th

We are pleased to advise that we are holding a seminar to celebrate Hearing Voices day. This year our theme is on Healthy choices. At the Hearing Voices Network we like to encourage Voice hearers to empower themselves. To find out what makes their voices better and what makes them worse.  We have three speakers to share some simple ways to help us to live with voices. To ease some of the challenges faced by people that hear distressing voices and to enhance their wellbeing so they feel stronger and better able to cope. Our research shows that often well voice hearers experience many of the same things as unwell voice hearers.  The difference? Their ability to cope with their experiences. They often have many more coping strategies than distressed voice hearers. Often these strategies combine physical, mental and spiritual strategies. After all we are not just a head. We are complex integrated body systems. To follow are the details of the event. You can also download a flier from our website

When we are faced with an obstacle in our lives, often we look for one big step that will help, in reality it is usually many small steps that are required.

The Hearing Voices Network are celebrating


                     We are pleased to present an afternoon of        


 The Hearing Voices Network have some wonderful speakers to share their knowledge and experience on simple ways we can choose to help ourselves to live and cope with voices

Ayurvedic Medicine                                       
DR PRIYA PUNJABI : is a practitioner in Ayurvedic medicine. She will talk about the Ayurvedic perspective and therapies that may increase wellness for those that hear voices.


ADRIENNE GIACON-  is an experienced Aromatherapist- has taught and lectured on Aromatherapy, is the secretary and  faciltated the support group at Te Ata for four years for the HVNANZ. She will share how to use Aromatherapy to help with the many symptoms and issues that Voice hearers often experience.

 Food and Mood
 ADRIENNE GRACE- is trained in nutrition, natural therapies and counselling. She will speak on “Food and mood, drawing on her own experiences and research on how what we eat can affect the way we feel and behave. Adrienne has facilitated many workshops to consumers and mental health providers



Bring a plate with something nutritional and healthy for everyone to taste and try.  The food with the most votes wins.
1st Prize $50.00, 2nd Prize   $30.00, 3rd Prize $20.00


When: Saturday 18th September 2010         Time:  1.00pm until 4.00pm

Where: Grey Lynn Library Hall. Next to Grey Lynn Library, Great North Rd, AUCKLAND.

Entry:  free, please bring a plate. You may want to enter our competition above.

BOOKINGS & INFO: Call Adrienne at 027 265 0266<!– var prefix = 'ma' + 'il' + 'to'; var path = 'hr' + 'ef' + '='; var addy27684 = 'info' + '@'; addy27684 = addy27684 + 'hearingvoices' + '.' + 'org' + '.' + 'nz'; document.write( '‘ ); document.write( addy27684 ); document.write( ” ); //\n // > // –>  Sponsored by the  ASB Community Trust.      
Please note we require bookings as space is not infinite- within the hall anyway…

Seminar on Cultural Perspectives has a fourth speaker!

I am delighted to say that we now have four speakers for our Seminar Cultural Perspectives & Considerations on June 26th 1 to 4pm.

Whitiki Maurea MOKO Maori Mental Health & Te Atea Marino Maori Regional Addictions Services will be represented by Timoti George who has had over 40 years experience in the field as a Clinician, Kaiako, Director and Manager.

” For Maori, senses that are triggered in the absence of stimuli is considered a common and normal phenomena. It is not seen as an abnormal state but instead as an indication of that individuals level of connectedness to their ancestors or those who have passed on or are in the process of returning home. Central to this is the Maori belief that they are ‘Spiritual Beings’ having a human experience”

 I attended a group only this week where Timoti George was speaking and enjoyed it very much. He is very knowledgeable and has a wealth of experience on this topic from which he draws from. I am looking forward to hearing his presentation next weekend. The spaces are filling up fast, so if you are thinking of coming you had better book quickly.



 Are hosting a 1 day workshop

 “Understanding Voices and working towards





Rufus May is a clinical psychologist from the UK. He has written articles and teaches widely on psychotic experiences and recovery processes. His approach is also influenced by his experience of psychosis at the age of 18 and recovery. Rufus is an active member and supporter of the Hearing Voices Network UK .

The workshop will include:

  • Hearing Voices the experience of what are voices like 
  •  How do challenging voices behave?  How can we understand this?
  •  Hearing Voices research
  •  Coping Strategies
  •  Forming a construct/ understanding of the voice hearing experience
  •  Emotional healing, personal development work
  •  Using the Voice dialogue model to understand and work with voices (this  includes role play  exercises)
  •  Recovery stories
  •  Demonstration of using the Voice dialogue approach
When: 9.30 to 4 PM Wednesday 17th March 2010Where: Western Springs Garden Community Hall 956 Great  North Rd Western Springs.

Cost: $100 for waged-We would like to encourage support people to bring a voice hearer with them. And offer a discount of for this i.e $90 instead of $120 for both people. $20 for unwaged voice hearers and family members.

n.b Morning and afternoon tea provided. Participants to provide their own lunch.    

We are a registered charity. These fees will help support our voluntary work.

Bookings: Call Adrienne at 0272650266 for more details or email:  for a registration form. Please note spaces are limited. If you don’t want to be disappointed you will need to book asap.

to download a flier and registration from, please visit Hearing voices Network Aotearoa NZ’s Website