About HVN

The first UK hearing Voices group was formed in 1988 in Manchester.

It was inspired by the pioneering work of Professor Marius Romme and Sondra Escher from Maastricht University, and a Dutch self help group, Foundation Resonance.

Following a national conference held in London in 1990, the Independent on Sunday newspaper published a prominent article on the topic which generated a lot of correspondence. As a result we decided to establish a network of voice hearers and individuals who were interested in the experience of hearing voices.

In 1989 the Manchester group organised a speaking tour in the north of England for Marius Romme and his colleagues Sondra Escher and Anse Graf. The meetings were well attended by people who hear voices, their relatives, friends and carers and interested mental health professional’s.

Since this time the work of the Network has been well reported in publications such as Open Mind, journals, local and national newspapers and the broadcasting media. Members of the group have continued to maintain a relationship with Rome and Escher, regularly visiting and attending conferences in Maastricht and throughout the world.

Nationwide Consultation

The Network recently conducted a nationwide consultation with its members and other key stakeholders. The main aims of this were to:

  • Review HVN’s achievements
  • Revisit HVN’s aims and objectives
  • Re-vision HVN to enable it to become a sustainable and more effective organisation

The results of this helpful and essential process are now available on this site in the form of two documents – the full consultation report and the main recommendations which arise from it. You can download both of these documents by clicking on the icons below:


HVN Consultation Report 2009

Consultation Plan 2009 Recommendations

A New Approach

Hearing voices has been regarded by psychiatry as ‘auditory hallucinations’, and in many cases a symptom of schizophrenia. However not everyone who hears voices has a diagnosis of schizophrenia. There are conflicting theories from psychiatrists, psychologists and voice hearers about why people do hear voices . We believe that they are similar to dreams, symbols of our unconscious minds. Although the Network is open to many diverse opinions we accept the explanation of each individual voice hearer.

Traditionally, the usual treatment for voice hearing has been major tranquillisers, administered to reduce the delusions and hallucinations. However not everyone responds to this treatment. There are some psychiatrists and psychologists who now work with people who hear voices using talking therapies and exploring the meaning of the voices.

Although this is not yet ‘the norm’, this practice is increasing. As the improvement in individuals who are encouraged to talk about their voices becomes more apparent and increasing number of health professionals are beginning to understand that the key to understanding voices lies in the ‘content’ of the voices.