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by Rufus May & Elisabeth Svanholmer  9/2/16

A little over a year after the publishing of the BPS Understanding psychosis report we want to reflect on what might happen when we try to get closer to the experience of 'psychosis'.

In November 2014 The British Psychological Society published a report Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia (Rufus was a contributor). Its sub-heading was: 'Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things others find strange or appear out of touch with reality'. 

I want to tell you about a magical tool I use particularly for navigating challenging situations. Its called Non violent communication (NVC). Its a way of understanding and communicating that I've found particularly useful in situations of conflict. I've hyped it up in the first sentence as a magical tool but like all useful things, its got its limitations too. I guess the key is how and when to use it.  So what am I talking about?

NVC which was developed by a psychologist called Marshall Rosenberg, asks us to focus on people's underlying feelings and needs behind their words and actions.  Classically in NVC we are asked to divide any situation we find ourselves in into four things (1.) The facts about the situation; (2.) What we feel; (3.) What we need or value that lies behind our feeling and (4.) What request we might want to make of ourselves or others.

Mindfulness & Mental health
A one day training course with
Rufus May & Elisabeth Svanholmer

Friday 18th Of March, 9.30 -4.00pm @ 7 King's Bench Street London, SE1 0QX, organised in partnership with St. Mungo's

Mindfulness is increasingly being used in mental health services. This workshop will look at flexible ways to use mindfulness with individuals and in groups.

The day will be a chance to try out a range of exercises and consider:

  • Mindfulness attitudes, ways to be with the present moment as it unfolds
  • Mindfulness in everyday life, mindful activity, mindful movement, mindful breathing
  • Using mindfulness supporting people
  • Mindful listening skills
  • Mindful approaches to working with anger and aggression
  • Mindfulness with other extreme states of mind (strong fears, voices, visions etc)
  • Grounding exercises and techniques and when mindfulness is not helpful

Rufus May has worked as a clinical psychologist in the NHS for 19 years. He has been practising mindfulness for the last ten years and is interested in holistic approaches to psychosis and healing from trauma. He has recently been supporting inpatient settings to use mindfulness. See: www.rufusmay.com
Elisabeth Svanholmer has worked as a speaker, trainer and organiser with the Danish Hearing Voices Network since 2006. She has many years of personal experience using bodywork and mindfulness with distress, overwhelm and hearing voices. See: www.livinglifegently.wordpress.com
Price: Waged: £70  Concessions: £35  Please note that lunch is not provided. To book a place email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or phone 07926685432


To dissociate is to let go of an awareness, to disconnect our attention from one thing and focus on another. On a mild level we all dissociate frequently throughout the day shifting our awareness from  thoughts to senses and back again. Some of it is conscious, some of it habitual.  Its a common strategy to deliberately dissociate from uncomfortable feelings by distracting ourselves. 

By Elisabeth Svanholmer (see more at Living life gently )

I used to live in a state of constant overwhelm and anxiety.

Only I didn’t know it at the time, because it was all I knew. I suspected something was wrong; the suicidal yearnings and impulses to self-harm were good tell tell signs, but I didn’t understand them as such. I thought I was being selfish and attention seeking and I did what I could to try and control these shameful things that lived inside me.

The British Psychological society report 'Understanding psychosis and schizophrenia' is available free here

It looks at why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality …and what can help.

Includes a questioning approach to the diagnosis of schizophrenia and evidence that suggests psychotic experiences are on a conitnuum with other psychological experiences.

In Part One of this blog I gave an introduction to Nonviolent communication (NVC). In this second part I look at how I've found it helpful in mental health settings...

I hope this paper will be of help to people who hear voices and their friends and supporters.  I also hope it will be helpful to the voices which are parts of many people's lives.