Posted on: 26 February 2019

More than 500 people with an interest in hearing voices and psychosis attended a Milton Keynes conference that looked at new ways of making sense of and responding to these experiences.

The CNWL Milton Keynes Compassion for Voices conference, which was held at the Ridgeway Centre, promoted Compassion Focussed Therapy techniques, the work of the Hearing Voices Network and aimed to provide a rich mixture of ideas from both a scientific, professional and lived experience perspective. Three of the four speakers have lived experience of hearing voices; one of whom, Mark Sanderson, works for CNWL within adult inpatient mental health services.

CNWL clinical psychologist Dr Peter Ord, who co-organised the event, said: “The fact that people with experience of hearing voices are presenting on such a big stage goes against the history of traditional approaches where people were ‘locked away’ in asylums forgotten about by society”

“We wanted to demonstrate that research and practices have developed in relation to voice hearing that go beyond the traditional biomedical approach to one that honours lived experience and one that highlights voice hearing as not a sign of ‘psychopathology’ but as a meaningful response to traumatic experiences.”

He added: “I do believe the compassionate approach to voice hearing is state of the art and it is great that CNWL can say it was part of that story.”

Mark Sanderson

Mark, who also helped organise the event, has worked for CNWL since the end of August 2016.

He said: “It was great being able to talk about my experience and how I put this to good use. I am living proof that this is not the end of things, but a start.

“What I always say to people is that working in mental health has given me a purpose to wake up, a purpose to get dressed, a purpose to get into work and to help people who’ve been through a similar experience. All I want to do is what’s best for the patients.

“My own wellbeing is also important and since I’ve started here, I’ve never felt so good. It’s boosted my confidence.”