University of São Paulo: USP group offers therapeutic practice that helps people who hear voices

According to a study by the International Network of Hearers of Voices (Intervoice) , about 2% to 4% of the world’s population hear voices. The Hearing Voices group, proposed by the International Movement of Hearing Voices, in the 1980s, as a new therapeutic approach for people who suffer from the problem, is a space where members exchange experiences and strategies to deal with these voices. Therapeutic practice is based on peer support, which proposes that people who go through the same situation discuss their experiences with their peers.

The most common approach to treating people who hear voices is medication, but “an important percentage, even under medication, continues to hear voices,” says Clarissa Mendonça Corradi-Webster, a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters. from Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP) from USP, coordinator of the Laboratory of Teaching and Research in Psychopathology, Drugs and Society (LePsis) from USP and researcher at the Group of Hearing Voices from Ribeirão Preto.

The researcher warns of the lack of care options for this part of the population, which is why the Grupo de Ouvidores de Vozes de Ribeirão Preto is considered a space where these people can talk to their peers without suffering prejudice or being the target of stigma. “The group is pointed out by listeners as the only space they have to talk about an experience that, so often, takes up a very large space in their lives.”

When people arrive at the group, says the teacher, they know that “they are among equals and what they say will be understood and not judged”. It is an environment in which they exchange experiences and share their stories and strategies for managing voices. That is why it is a group of peers, because “the objective is not for the professional to give meaning to that, interpret what is being said or teach the members what to do”, she says. The goal is for peers to strengthen each other and, with that, build a support network for people who go through the same circumstances.

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