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Strategies for Coping with Distressing Voices

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*This list was compiled by Richmond Fellowship Western Australia with contribution from both Dundonian and Australian voice hearers.


1. Focusing Techniques
  • Accepting that voices are not 'the' problem, they are a consequence of a problem. Your job is to find out more.
  • Indentify your voices - number, gender, age and so on
  • Learn about boundaries to apply to people and your voices (i.e. make a deal with your voices "be quiet now and i'll listen later")
  • Listen out for positive voices too - they can be allies
  • Schedule a time to listen to the voices and ask them to leave you alone until that time
  • Tell negative voices that you will only talk with them if they are respectful towards you
  • Voice dialogue - let a trusted family member, friend or mental health worker talk directly to your voices
  • Work through Ron Coleman & Mike Smith's "Working with Voices II" work book with a trusted family member, friend or mental health worker
  • Write down what the voices are saying to you
2. Positive Emotional Techniques
  • Go for a picnic
  • Listen to energetic music
  • Look at good things achieved list
  • Look at photo albums
  • Look at the list of good things others have said about you
  • Make a list of your assets or strengths
  • Make an emergency comfort bundle (of goodies)
  • Read books, love letters, love poems
  • Read joke books/ emails
  • Say positive statements to self
  • Record positive statements on tape (your voice)
  • Watch films - comedy or inspirational
3. Points To Remember To Enable Me To Look After Myself
  • Do something nice for 'me' each day
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Keep regular appointments with my support network even if I am feeling 'okay'
  • Look up, get perspective, stretch or shift your body
  • Plan my day; ensure I do not have long periods of time with nothing to do
  • Reach out. Talk to someone
  • Take medication as prescribed (in consultation)
  • Think about how I am feeling and be realistic about what I can achieve
  • Try to see the grey areas

4. Emotional Focusing
  • Discuss feelings with another person
  • List emotional triggers
  • Paint/ draw emotions
  • Rainy day letter
  • Write a diary
  • Write poetry/ prose regarding feelings
5. Things That May Help Voice Hearers To Cope
  • Meditation
  • Listening to music
  • Keeping physically active and healthy
  • Keeping occupied e.g. cooking, house chores
  • Distraction e.g. reading, and computer games
  • Religion/Deliverance and Healing
  • Sex
  • Chanting or singing
  • Holidays
  • Money
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Taking medication dampens them and can make them go (not if bad side effects)
  • Some medication is better that others.
  • Avoiding street drugs
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Isolating self
  • Humour
  • Sleeping
  • Shouting at the voices
  • Ignoring voices
  • Having good support around you
  • Good CPN, psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellor
  • Positive attitudes
  • Talking
  • Staff listening to you
  • Praying /speaking to God
  • Keeping a diary about them
  • Identifying when you are most likely to hear the voices
  • Going to voices groups
  • Focusing on the voices
 6. What May Not Help
  • Being over-medicated
  • Being under- medicated
  • Professionals thinking they know more about your voices than you do
  • Dreams and trying to get to sleep
  • Lack of sleep
  • Side effects of the medication
  • Not having information
  • Other people denying the existence of voices
  • Being told not to talk about voices
  • Other people denying your explanation of your voices
  • Labelling
  • Thinking negatively
  • Professionals asking too many questions


7. Relaxation Techniques

  • Acknowledge fear, worry, and stress and let go consciously. Trust
  • Count your breaths
  • Dancing/ walking
  • Focus on the position of your body
  • Focus soley on breathing/ breathe deeply
  • Give yourself permission to relax
  • Guided fantasy dreamtime
  • Learn Yoga breathing techniques
  • Listen to guided relaxation on tape
  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Massage hands, feet, head, etc.
  • Relax each muscle individually
  • Swimming/ floating
  • Yoga
8. Things That May Work For Me In A Crisis
  • Ask for help sooner not later
  • Create a personalised crises plan when you are feeling well
  • Cry
  • Find a safe place
  • Hand in any spare medications/ blades or other similar items
  • Have PRN medication
  • Kick boxes around outside
  • Let people know where I am
  • Let someone know how I am feeling
  • Plan safety
  • Remember that situations and feelings frequently change - "this too shall pass" (-King Solomon)
  • Rest on my bed
  • Shout into my pillow
  • Try to identify how I am feeling
9. Comforting Techniques
  • Buy/ pick fresh flowers
  • Change the sheets on your bed
  • Cuddle up to a teddy
  • Eat a favourite food in moderation
  • Have a bubble bath
  • Have a soothing drink
  • Hold a safe comforting object
  • Find a safe space
  • Hug someone
  • Listen to soothing music/ favourite soft music
  • Prayer/ medication/ creative visualization
  • Put lights/ radio on (to sleep)
  • Sing favourite songs
  • Sit in a safe place
  • Soak your feet/ radox bath
  • Spray room fragrance
  • Stroke/ brush your pet or someone else's
  • Use perfume/ hand cream or take a warm bath
  • Use pot pouri/ essential oils
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Write a diary or talk about how you feel with another person
  • Zen seeing (with a friend)
 10. General Ideas
  • Don't beat yourself up, we all make mistakes
  • List achievements
  • Make a contract with your voices
  • Positive self talk
  • Self forgiveness (find yourself innocent)
  • Talk to the voices, find out how they feel
  • Wear one ear plug
11. Distraction Techniques
  • Cinema
  • Clean or tidy things up
  • Do puzzles or develop a hobby
  • Exercise - walking/ running/ dance/ beach
  • Gardening/ striking pot plants
  • Listening to CDs/ mp3 player
  • Paint or draw pictures/ posters/ cards
  • Playing games/ cards/ computer
  • Reading out aloud or hum a tune to yourself
  • Sewing/ knitting/ collecting
  • Shopping
  • Sports
  • Telephone a friend
  • Use visual imagery or count to yourself when trying to get to sleep
  • Visit a friend
  • Walk in shallow water
  • Washing
  • Watch TV/ video
  • Write letters
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