A new kind of support group has developed for those with schizophrenic or other symptoms that cause them to hear voices originating from their minds.
The Hearing Voices Network (HVN), coordinates sessions between individuals who have experienced hearing voices that are not physically present. Rather than focusing on medication or behavior modification, the groups in HVN instead focus on what the voices in someone's head are trying to tell them. They try to determine why such voices exist from a life-narrative perspective, and they search for ways a person can communicate with their voices so they become less detrimental and possibly even helpful in their tone.
Dr. Ronald Pies, a professor of psychiatry at SUNY Upstate University, cautions that "anyone [should] be carefully evaluated by a psychiatrist with expertise in treating psychotic disorders before embarking on any such alternative programs" because they may truly need medication. Additionally, he notes that the programs rely heavily on "family support," which must be available.
As the New York Times reflects, major difficulties may occur when attempting to integrate this new kind of healthcare with mainstream psychiatric and psychological treatments. They do, however, cite the first pilot study to attempt to bridge the divide.