The World According to Top Dog
What if we lived in a world where people who heard voices were respected? What if we lived in a world where if you said you heard voices people would be intrigued and asked if you did not mind sharing what the voice had to say? What if when you said you were troubled by voices, people offered to mediate between you and the voices?
This peace-making approach is what we have learned in the Hearing Voices movement. Over the last ten years or so people have been assisting voice hearers to dialogue with their voices, adapting Hal and Sidra Stone’s Voice Dialogue approach. I learned to do it from going to a workshop with psychiatrist and trainer Dirk Coerstens, seven years ago. Using this ‘talking with voices’ approach I can ask a person hearing voices to sit in a different chair and tell me what their voice is saying. I can then with a friendly introduction, if all parties are agreed, have a conversation with the voice.
The voice hearer acts as a spokesperson for the voice. After the interview with the voice, we think together carefully about what has been learned from the conversation. Its a bit like couple counselling where one partner is on the phone (you can read more about the approach here). Two years ago I started to experiment a little with this approach with a voice hearer who I could only see once every few weeks. In between meetings I asked if she could send me Facebook messages where she let me know her views and separately her voice’s views. Flo Bellamy (who I have been working with for 2 and half years) and her voice Top Dog took it one step further. Top Dog asked for his own Face-book account and after thinking about it, Flo agreed. He went on to have a Twitter account (Top Dog Talks) and now has written his first blog entry which I feature below.