Click on a question below to jump to the answer!
Can I come to a support group if…
- I’m not sure if my experience “counts” as hearing voices?
- I don’t hear voices, but I have other experiences I would like support with, like unusual beliefs or seeing things other people don’t?
- I have some unusual experiences, but I’m not sure if my experiences are the kind this website is about?
- I used to hear voices (or see visions, etc), but I don’t right now?
- I don’t have a mental health diagnosis?
- I don’t use mental health services?
- I want my friend or family member to come with me?
- I am a student or clinician interested in learning more about hearing voices or the Hearing Voices Movement?
How to attend a group
- Do I need to RSVP or register to come to a support group?
- How can I sign up for reminders and information about upcoming groups?
What to expect at a group
- What is the difference between the support groups and the Study Club?
- Who will be at the group?
- What types of conversations or activities can I expect at a Hearing Voices support group?
- Is this a treatment group?
- Can I talk about spirituality at these groups?
- Are these groups against treatment or medication?
Safety and confidentiality
- Who runs these groups?
- How will my privacy be protected?
- What about upsetting or triggering topics?
- What happens if I want to leave the group?
I’m not sure if my experience “counts” as hearing voices. Can I still come to a support group?
Yes. Everyone’s experience of hearing voices is different. For instance, some people hear voices inside of their head that might be more “thought-like,” while other people hear voices outside of their head. You are welcome to come to a support group if you think it might be helpful for you. You can also visit our What Are Voices? page for more information about different types of voice-hearing experience.
I don’t hear voices, but I have other experiences I would like support with, like unusual beliefs or seeing things other people don’t. Can I still come to a support group?
Yes, you are welcome to come to a support group. Although we use the term “Hearing Voices” support group, in reference to the Hearing Voices Movement, these groups are open to people with many different types of experience. Some of these experiences include hearing voices, seeing visions, having unusual beliefs, feeling paranoid, or having experiences with a psychiatric diagnosis like psychosis.
What do you mean by all of these terms (hearing voices, seeing visions, unusual sensory experiences and beliefs, etc)? I have some unusual experiences, but I’m not sure if my experiences are the kind you mean.
We deliberately use general, inclusive language, because these groups are meant for people with many different experiences. People might also use different words to describe their experience. What is important is that Hearing Voices support groups are a non-judgmental space where people can speak openly about many types of unusual sensory experiences, beliefs, and other perceptions/states. It’s okay if you aren’t sure how to think about your experience. You are welcome to come to a support group if you think it would be helpful for you.
I used to hear voices, but I don’t hear them right now. I would like support for the experiences I had before. Can I still come to a support group?
Yes. You are welcome to talk about past experiences of hearing voices (or seeing visions, etc) at a support group.
Do I need to have a mental health diagnosis to come to a support group?
No, you don’t need to have a mental health diagnosis. These groups are for everyone who has experiences like hearing voices, seeing visions, or having unusual beliefs.
Do I need to be a client of mental health services to come to a support group?
No, you don’t need to be a client of any mental health services to come to a support group. Groups listed on this website are all open to the public unless otherwise stated.
Can my friend or family member come to a support group with me?
Yes, you are welcome to bring your supporters with you to the group. Friends and family members are also welcome to attend the Study Club.
I am a student or clinician interested in learning more about hearing voices or the Hearing Voices Movement. Can I come to a support group?
You are welcome to come to the Study Club, but support groups are meant for people seeking support for themselves and for friends and family members they invite to come with them.
Do I need to RSVP or register to come to a support group?
No, you don’t need to RSVP or register to come to a group. Both virtual and in-person groups are drop-in. The one exception is the Fraser Valley virtual group hosted by Communitas Supportive Care Society. You will need to sign up online to receive the Zoom link for this group, but it’s still drop-in.
How can I sign up for reminders and information about upcoming groups?
To join the BCHVN email list and be notified of new groups/events, you can fill out this form. You can also subscribe to us on WordPress:
For reminders and information about the Vancouver Voices & Visions groups specifically, join the Spotlight on Mental Health email list by visiting the Spotlight on Mental Health website and completing the form at the bottom of the page.
What is the difference between the support groups and the Study Club?
Support groups are meant for people with unusual sensory experiences and beliefs to find support and share insights with peers. The Study Club can also be a source of support and people do share personal experiences, but is focused around discussing an article, video or podcast related to the international Hearing Voices Movement. The Study Club is more of a discussion group than a support group. The Study Club is open to anyone, including people with lived experience, friends, family members, students, clinicians, and other community members who are interested in the topic.
Who will be at the group?
Many types of people attend Hearing Voices support groups. The one thing they have in common is that they have personal experience with unusual sensory experiences or beliefs. Group members may or may not have a mental health diagnosis and have different relationships to their experiences. For instance, some people might find hearing voices to be very difficult, while others find that it’s only a small part of their life, or have found positive ways to live with their experience. Support group meetings are also facilitated (led) by people with personal experience. Some specific groups are co-facilitated by a professional without personal experience, although they still aren’t treatment groups. If you have questions about how a group is run, you can contact the organizers, or use our Contact page. Some people might also choose to bring a friend or family member along to support them.
The Study Club is different. Everyone is welcome, including people with personal experience, but also friends and family members, students, clinicians, and any other members of the community who are interested in learning about the Hearing Voices Movement.
What types of conversations or activities can I expect at a Hearing Voices support group?
Each support group is a little different. It’s up to the group members and facilitators to decide how exactly they would like the group to go and what they would like to talk about. However, often groups will include introducing yourself, a chance to “check in” or share a little about how you are doing, and discussion around different topics related to unusual sensory experiences and beliefs. For instance, group members might discuss coping strategies, relationships, spirituality, or other topics people in the group would like to talk about that day.
The Study Club is more focused on learning and sharing ideas, with the group selecting a video, article, or podcast to watch and discuss in advance.
Is this a treatment group?
No. Hearing Voices support groups are simply a place for people to come together to share their experiences without judgment. The focus of the groups is on support, empathy, and acceptance. Although group members often share coping strategies and different ways of thinking about their experiences in the group, the purpose of the group is not to provide treatment. Different people might get different things out of attending a support group. For instance, some people might find that it helps them to understand their experiences in a new way, while other people value being part of a community. Some people feel better from knowing they aren’t alone, or having somewhere to talk about their experiences.
Can I talk about spirituality at these groups?
Yes. Some group members consider their voices, visions, or beliefs to be spiritual. You are welcome to talk about any of your experiences, however you interpret them.
Are these groups against treatment or medication?
No. We believe people should have access to whichever tools support their well-being. Group members have diverse personal relationships to medication and other forms of mental health treatment. You are welcome to attend a support group, whatever your personal choices and feelings are.
Who runs these groups?
These groups are facilitated by peers, meaning people who have personal experience of hearing voices, seeing visions, or having unusual beliefs. A facilitator is someone who helps guide the discussion at a support group and make sure the discussion stays respectful and comfortable for everyone. Occasionally, specific groups are co-facilitated by professionals who don’t have personal experience, like social workers or occupational therapists. If you have questions about how a specific group is run, you can contact the organizers or use our Contact page. The groups are hosted and funded by different organizations, including health and social care organizations. Some of these organizations hire peer support workers to provide a service, and some of them provide funding or space for peer-led projects. You can learn more about different groups in BC by visiting our Local Groups page.
How will my privacy be protected?
These groups are confidential, meaning the group facilitators won’t share anything you say or information about who you are with anyone else, unless someone is in immediate danger. The facilitators don’t take notes about what you say during the group or record other information about you. We ask that all group members agree to respect confidentiality. However, we can’t guarantee that other group members won’t share information outside of the group setting.
Are these groups safe to attend? What about upsetting or triggering topics?
It’s possible that some topics that come up during the group could be upsetting, since people are seeking support for personal experiences that are often difficult. However, it is the job of the facilitators to make sure that everyone in the group feels comfortable with a topic and with how the conversation is going. For instance, this could mean pausing the conversation to check in with group members.
What happens if I want to leave the group?
You can leave the group at any time. Attendance and participation is always optional. You can also just listen if you don’t feel comfortable sharing.