Experiential Peer Support

Experiential Peer Support is a peer-support group incorporating Hearing Voices Network and Intervoice training and principals and moving toward reclaiming the full continuum of human experience and belief acknowledged as human rights [1] under the broader umbrella of the hearing voices movement.

For exploring voices, visions, plurality, presences, premonitions, and other extreme, “unusual,” poetic, spiritual or otherwise alternative beliefs, perspectives, or experiences. Individuals with experiences or beliefs which might be viewed, from a conventional perspective, as relatively less extreme than hearing voices—for example, individuals understanding a period of grief or despair, spiritually or poetically, as a “dark night of the soul” or an underworld journey– are also equally welcome.

This group is facilitated with an awareness of evidence–both from lived experience and empirical research–that trauma and other adversity often play a significant role in determining whether individuals will suffer having their capacity to cope overwhelmed by any of these experiences. However, also consistent with HVN values, the intended philosophy of this group [2] is to accept “all explanations” for these experiences and to encourage “people to explore their own beliefs, be they spiritual, religious, paranormal, technological, cultural, counter-cultural, philosophical, medical, and so on.”

Note of Caution

We will work to be consistent with the values of the Hearing Voices Network USA charter in many ways. However, unlike HVN charter groups, to participate in any CWC peer-support group (as well as any CWC counseling group), interested individuals must complete a CWC “group screening” session–meeting with the group facilitator to talk about whether or not this group is a mutually good fit. Before that, individuals who are not currently active clients of the Counseling and Wellness Center, must also complete a brief consultation.

If you have questions about the potentially significant consequences of participation in any aspect of this process—including clinical record-keeping or the potentials for movement into clinical risk assessment—please do communicate with a group facilitator in advance.


1. “10. … Most important have been… movements led by users and former users of mental health services and organizations of persons with disabilities, in calling attention to the failures of traditional mental health services to meet their needs and secure their rights. They have challenged the drivers of human rights violations, developed alternative treatments and recrafted a new narrative for mental health…” – Section II. Context, pg 4

“50. Diversity must be broadly understood, recognizing the diversity of human experience and the variety of ways in which people process and experience life. Respecting that diversity is crucial to ending discrimination. Peer-led movements and self-help groups, which help to normalize human experiences that are considered unconventional, contribute towards more tolerant, peaceful and just societies.” – Section V. Right to Mental Health Frameworks, D. Non-discrimination, pg 11

Dainius Puras. (March 28, 2017).  Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.  United Nations Human Rights Council Document. (Available at https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/076/04/pdf/G1707604.pdf?OpenElement)

2. Jaqui Dillon & Gail Hornstein. (2013). “Hearing voices peer support groups: A powerful alternative for people in distress.” First published in the journal, Psychosis, 5 (3), 286-295. (Available at http://www.gailhornstein.com/files/Dillon-Hornstein_article_on_hearing_voices_groups.pdf)

Additional References

Marius Romme, Sandra Escher, Jaqui Dillon, Dirk Corstens & Mervin Morris (2013). (Eds.) Living with Voices: 50 Stories of Recovery. Ross on Wye (UK): PCCS Books. (Available through Amazon in print or Kindle editions.)

Tamasin Knight. (2013). Beyond belief: Alternative ways of working with delusions, obsessions and unusual experiences. Berlin/Eugene/Shrewsbury, Peter Lehmann Publishing. (Available through Amazon in Kindle edition. Print or e-book also available at http://www.peter-lehmann-publishing.com/books/knight.htm)