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Hearing Voices Network Groups Charter

MCHVN has its own culture, ethos, philosophy, and values. All groups that come together to focus on voices and visions are, of course, entitled to describe themselves as hearing voices groups but, unless they uphold the values of the Network, not all hearing voices groups are entitled to call themselves a part of the Montgomery County Hearing Voices Network.

While many voices groups work with the Network’s core values of acceptance and self-determination, many other groups work within the medical model of treatment of illness. We welcome the existence of treatment groups and their potential to help people, but we state clearly that they are not part of the Hearing Voices Network. Treatment groups and self-help groups are different.

There are many voices groups that fall somewhere in the middle between these two poles. These groups may be set up and run by mental health system workers. They may be in tune with the ethos and values of the Network but work within organizations that impose constraints and pressures on how the group must function. Despite such constraints, there are some among these groups that are genuinely working to empower members to eventually run their own group.

As a result of the above situation, there is currently a need to clarify the identity of the Montgomery County Hearing Voices Network through establishing criteria by which voices groups can be recognized as members of the Network or not. The following Charter identifies clear criteria for membership in the MCHVN. This includes criteria for full membership and criteria for affiliated status in recognition of groups that are not yet able to fulfill criteria for full membership.

Criteria for Affiliated Group Membership

The group...

  • Accepts that voices and visions are real experiences.

  • Accepts that people are not any the less for having voices and visions.

  • Ethos of self-help

  • Ethos of mutual respect, support and empathy

  • Attendance is voluntary and self-determined

  • Primary focus is sharing experiences- no more, no less

  • No assumption of illness

  • Freedom to interpret experiences in any way

  • Freedom to challenge social norms

  • Freedom to talk about anything, not just voices and visions

  • Not a 'treatment program'

  • Social group not clinical group

  • No clinical pressure on the facilitator to report back on attendance, participation, etc.

  • No one expert; all are experts

  • Ordinary, common language used

  • No discharge process

  • No risk assessment

  • Confidentiality within group is maintained as much as possible

  • Group is aware of any limits to confidentiality

  • Working towards fulfilling criteria for full membership

Criteria for Full Group Membership

The group...

  • No referrals needed

  • Group is a community to which people belong

  • Members join for as long as it suits them

  • Group open to people not using services

  • Group open to people from other geographical areas

  • Group does not meet within a clinical setting

  • Ethos of accepting people as they are

  • Group is not a form of treatment to make people better

  • Group decides limits to confidentiality

  • Equality between everyone in the group

  • Decisions are made by all the group together

  • Problems are worked out within the group

  • Responsibility lies primarily with the group not the facilitator

  • The group is facilitated by individuals who have lived experience of hearing voices --hearing, seeing or sensing things that others don't

  • Our aim is that facilitators have prior experience as members of a HVN group and have completed our MCHVN Facilitators Training

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