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Meet the voice hearers


Voice hearing is different for everyone. Some people hear one voice, others hear multiple voices and some hear music or humming. Some people hear voices that are encouraging and supportive, while others can hear critical and angry voices. On this page, you'll meet some voice hearers – all of whom have different and diverse experiences.​ ​

 Meet Beth! (she/her)

Beth is 56 years old, lives in a cottage and loves cuddling up to her cat Harry.

She and her husband moved to Australia from overseas two years ago, but just after arriving, sadly Beth's husband Andy passed away. She felt very alone as all her family and friends were overseas. Soon after her husband's passing, she began hearing negative and critical voices which she struggled to understand or manage. She did some research and found resources about other people who also hear voices. Through reading their stories, she no longer feels so alone in her experience and has learnt some practical strategies to manage the voices and bring back a sense of calm in her life.

On a more challenging day, Beth finds it difficult to get out of the house as the voices tell her bad things will happen to her or that other people are conspiring against her. She uses a compassionate approach to help manage the voices and knows the critical voices are a sign that she is feeling stressed or anxious. At times when she needs to quieten the voices, she uses strategies such as singing and keeping busy with cooking and other household tasks.

Beth has found connecting with spirituality, mindfulness, spending time with her cat Harry and talking to a therapist have been helpful in building a more positive and peaceful relationship with the voices.​​​​

 Meet JJ! (they/them)

JJ is 32 years old, a music producer and lives in a city apartment. JJ loves the vibrancy of the city.

JJ started hearing voices and experiencing visions around the age of 13. JJ hears a number of voices – some caring and protective, others critical and mean. Sometimes, JJ also hears people humming which they believe reflects their musical creativity. When JJ is extremely distressed they see visions of zombies and people that have hurt them in the past. When this happens JJ finds that using a combination of taking medication, using grounding and sensory techniques such as stomping and holding an ice pack, or doing a hard gym session, help to bring back a sense of calm and safety.

JJ’s passion​ for music not only provides an outlet for creative expression, but also is the most effective way to manage their voices and visions. JJ wears headphones when out and about, particularly when in crowded spaces as this is when the voices can be more intrusive and loud. This helps JJ to feel more in control of the voices and provides them with an increased sense of choice to engage or not engage with the voices.
JJ enjoys going on road trips to the countryside to have a break from the city. JJ finds that in this space the voices and visions are reduced. JJ sees a therapist to work on identifying triggers, early warning signs and develop a toolkit of coping strategies. JJ has found this helpful to feel more in control of the voices and visions and maintain wellness.

 Meet Ella! (she/her)

Ella is 25-years-old and first started hearing voices during her second year of university.​ She was so afraid of what she was experiencing that she didn't leave her house for a whole month; the voices would call her horrible names and tell her that her classmates were spying on her. She deferred her university studies to understand and cope better with the voices. She found a counsellor to talk about these experiences and they would often explore the voices, their characteristics and understand the meaning behind them. She also connected with other voice hearers through a hearing voices group. Through this help, she was able to link the voices to her past trauma and unexpressed emotions.

Some of the coping strategies Ella identifies as most helpful are self-soothing and using the compassionate approach when speaking to both herself and the voices. In particular, she finds sensory strategies like using scented hand creams, smelling essential oils and cosying up under a weighted blanket help to soothe her mind/body and calm the voices. She also finds engaging in her hobbies and interests such as socialising, yoga, painting and listening to relaxation music at night are helpful strategies in keeping her well.

Recently Ella has been hearing just one, positive voice that gives her compliments and reassures her when she is feeling insecure.

She now believes the voices help her to be more creative and know when she needs to express her emotions. She embraces the voices as she sees them as an important part of her life and who she is as a person.

 Rob! (he/him)

Rob is 65​​ years old and after 40 years as a mining engineer, he has recently retired.

Rob has been hearing voices since his twenties, and believes it's been passed down to him from his father and paternal grandmother who also had a similar shared experience. He mainly hears voices that are critical and warn him of danger, but on occasions he hears nice and encouraging voices. He is now able to cope with them more easily.

A game changer for Rob was when he realised his most critical and scary voices actually have the intention of protecting and keeping him safe. This has made it easier for him to be more compassionate towards them. Now he often thanks the voices when they warn him of danger, reassures them he is safe and finds this not only calms himself but also the voices. Rob also practises mindfulness to keep himself in the present and enjoys going for walks and describing what he can feel, hear and smell.

At times, Rob finds that the voices can be really convincing and due to this he sometimes struggles to know if they are telling him the truth. When he is unsure, he finds it helpful to ask his mates who he trusts for their advice, or if they are not around he questions what the voices say to him, or does some research on the internet.

As Rob's life has slowed down and he has more time to engage with the things he loves like spending time with animals and with his mates he has found that the voices have less power over his life and that he is the one in control.

 Meet Josh! (he/him)

Josh is a 41 year old married father who works part-time at the local council as a youth development officer. He advocates for youth mental health and is a peer mentor for young people who are experiencing mental distress or addictions. To switch off, Josh enjoys surfing​, skating and jamming with his mates.

Josh began hearing voices at 21 years old when he was out partying with his friends - they'd drink and experiment with drugs together. At first the voices would wear off after a big weekend but gradually they become more present and persistent throughout his week. He spiralled into a rollercoaster of addiction and depression. His voices became more dominating, critical and threatening. This resulted in a number of hospital admissions and traumatic experiences where his safety felt threatened and he didn't feel in control.

Josh began attending a hearing voices recovery support group and he found connecting with other voice hearers and talking freely about his experiences life changing. He still hears voices but they don't bother him as much anymore.

Sometimes when Josh is stressed his voices become more critical, loud and intrusive. When this happens he does his best to manage stress by engaging in his hobbies, practising breathing techniques, cooking and enjoying watching TV. When his voices become too demanding he finds it helpful to test out their power by setting them menial tasks like delivering him doughnuts or doing the washing up. When they don't deliver, this reassures him that he is more powerful than them and he feels more in control.

Josh carries a lot of guilt about his past addictions but is proud to be six years sober, in a job he enjoys, has healthy relationships, hobbies and a family that he adores.​

 Meet Chris! (he/him)

Chris is 19 years old and lives at home with family.

Chris experienced bul​lying and because of this dreaded going to school. He would often spend his lunchtimes in the library where he felt safe. He was particularly drawn to computer games as they were a nice escape.

Chris began hearing voices in his final year of high school. In the beginning the voices just commented on his actions, but when they started insulting him this became problematic. The voices were so distracting, he could not focus on his studies or even gaming. Some of the voices mimicked his bullies which really started to affect his self-esteem. Chris decided to see a psychiatrist who prescribed some medication which he found helpful.

After Chris finished high school, he enrolled in university to become a game developer. When the voices interrupt him at university he uses strategies such as taking notes, asking questions and using fidget tools to help him stay focused in class.

Chris feels fortunate to hear one positive voice which sounds like his beloved grandmother, Eileen, who passed when he was younger. Her voice is calming and protective, and often offers helpful advice when he needs it.

Chris has found that exploring his strengths and values has been helpful in reclaiming his identity and navigating his recovery journey. He can't wait to graduate university and pursue a career in gaming; he is feeling confident about his future now that he is more comfortable living alongside the voices.​​

​See our video series and worksheets

Explore our latest videos and printable worksheets to help you explore, navigate and learn about your voices.​



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