Frequently Asked Questions
Who are Pacific Rim HVN online groups for?
Pacific Rim HVN online groups are for two audiences:
We define experiencers as:
Anyone who has (or has ever had) experiences that fall under the “Hearing Voices” umbrella including but not limited to: Voices, visions, extreme states, big moods, wild energy, unshared realities, unusual beliefs, special messages, tactile sensations, olfactory sensations, or any other extraordinary encounter with reality.
We take a broad view of what constitutes “hearing voices.” All experiences under the umbrella are viewed equally. Experiencers are not viewed as “more voice hearer” or “less voice hearer” based on which part of the umbrella they’ve experienced, how long they’ve experienced it, or how intensely.
All frameworks are welcome. People who believe their experiences are a sign of mental illness are just as welcome to attend as those who employ any other framework - and there are many.
We define supporters as:
Anyone who directly supports someone with these experiences in a non-professional role like parents, family members and friends. This excludes people who support someone in a professional capacity like therapists, psychiatrists and peer support specialists.
Note: If you are a peer support specialist and have ever had experiences that fall under the Hearing Voices umbrella, you are welcome to attend.
Do you allow observers?
No. We don’t allow non-experiencers to come as observers.
If you’ve had experiences that fall under the Hearing Voices umbrella and would like to attend a group without sharing, that’s no problem. Sharing and receiving feedback are optional.
I'm a therapist. Can I come to a meeting to observe?
No, unless you either have/have had experiences that fall under the umbrella, or directly support someone in a non-professional capacity who does, like a friend or family member. If you are interested in learning about HVN on a professional level, our facilitators offer paid consultations and trainings for mental health professionals.
Are supporters required to be accompanied by the person they support?
Pacific Rim HVN groups are open to supporters even if they attend without the person they support. In other words, supporters are allowed to attend by themselves.
That being said, we have a set of expectations and guidelines for supporters.
What do you expect from supporters?
Before you read our guidelines, we want to be clear that Pacific Rim HVN is a friendly and forgiving community that believes in your capacity to learn and grow. If you forget to follow some of these principles at first, we understand. It takes time to adjust to a new way of being. We take a realistic approach toward learning a new set of attitudes and vocabulary that depart noticeably from the language of mainstream mental health.
Here are our requests/guidelines for supporters in group:
1.) We request that supporters adhere to the Pacific Rim HVN Charter.
- We do not assume illness
- We assume unusual experiences are REAL even if they are unshared
- We firmly believe people are not less for having unusual experiences
- The focus is on sharing experiences, not telling each other what to do
- We encourage using plain language over diagnostic labels
- Our groups are social gatherings, not clinical, support or therapy groups
- We believe in self-determination
2.) We request that supporters speak to their own experience, not the experience of the person they support.
3.) We discourage supporters asking questions of the whole group.
4.) We expect supporters to not dominate meetings in any way.
5.) We ask that supporters attend with the mindset of a beginner, not an expert.
6.) While supporters are welcome, we expect them to understand that our groups are for primarily for experiencers, not supporters - and that it is a privilege for supporters to be able to attend.
7.) We encourage supporters to explore their own life. Sometimes supporters discover they are also experiencers, opening up another dimension of participation.
8.) If a supporter repetitively cannot adhere to these principles, the facilitator reserves the right to ask them to leave and/or stop attending.
Is HVN anti-psychiatry?
No! HVN was originally founded on the work of a psychiatrist, Dr. Marius Romme from the Netherlands, who became critical of his profession when he realized his training was not useful. HVN takes no official stance for or against psychiatry, however:
HVN takes a non-pathologizing view of the human experience. We do not assume unusual experiences are a sign of illness. That is a personal choice that belongs to the person who has those experiences, and we believe in the freedom to change our minds at anytime.
HVN is strongly against coercive/abusive treatment of anyone. We believe in self determination and personal choice.
HVN groups do not offer medical advice. However, we are willing to have an open and courageous conversation about the merits/risks of any particular mental health treatment. Our groups are frequently attended by people with lived experience of many different treatments, and are encouraged to share their wisdom with one another.
How can I contribute?
We welcome donations to the Open Excellence Pacific Rim HVN Initiative. Your 501(c)(3) donation is 100% tax deductible and goes toward the sustainability of this project. Donate here.