All posts by Ciara McEnteggart

Meet our Newest HVNI Board Member

Hello, my name is Bruno Nicolai. For approximately 20 years I’ve worked in various roles in the community, supporting people to come together to identify their needs and take collective action to solve problems, and supporting individuals to overcome adversity in order to live the life they wish to live. I’m a qualified psychotherapist, I’m employed as a Mental Health Recovery Support Worker at Shine, I co-facilitate the Douglas/Cork City Hearing Voices Group, and in the past I’ve co-produced Hearing Voices Training for all staff within my organisation.

I received multiple psychiatric diagnoses as a teenager; each seemingly worse and less hopeful than the last. Back then, I only mentioned my voice-hearing experiences once or twice to psychiatrists. I learned very quickly that if I said yes to the questions they asked, there’d be a good chance I’d receive another diagnosis, a recommendation of some time in hospital, and a prescription for additional or stronger medication, without me being asked anything about the content or context of my experiences.

By my early 20s, my mental health had improved and voice hearing dissipated. There are innumerable reasons this positive change occurred, but in brief, my recovery began when I found a community of peers and professionals whom I felt truly saw, heard, valued, and respected me, which I internalised. From that point onward, there was no stopping me.

Though my most distressing years occurred in my late teens, I can trace the origins of my poor mental health to a succession of precarious and shaming life-experiences beginning in infanthood, each piggybacking on the next until it became too much. Viewing it through the Power Threat Meaning Framework lens, my distress was completely understandable. I liken my recovery to the paradoxical theory of change; the more I discovered and accepted about my authentic self, the more I changed and the happier I became.

Over the past two decades, my passion for mental health recovery has led me along several different paths, to where I am today. I have seen the recovery movement re-defined and re-interpreted into various forms; at times like a square peg hammered into round hole, and though well intentioned, some of these interpretations seem to maintain the traditional pathologising paradigm, while others move away from it. As my involvement with the Hearing Voices movement increases, I find myself curious to learn about the diversity that lies within it.

As you can imagine, for me, joining the Hearing Voices Network Ireland board is very exciting. Without a doubt, I’ve big shoes to fill, as I replace my board predecessor and wonderful Shine Team Leader, Tian Herbert. I’m very much looking forward to getting stuck-in, supporting, promoting, and expanding the reach of HVNI’s amazing work, and hopefully getting the opportunity to meet lots of you along the way.

Hearing Voices Group Facilitation Training with Jacqui Dillon

Following on from two successful online courses last year, we are pleased to announce that Jacqui Dillon ( is running another 8-week online Hearing Voices Group Facilitation & Network Development Training course this year, from 19 April – 7 June 2023, from 2.00 – 5.00 pm on 8 consecutive Wednesdays.

HV Support Groups offer a space where voice hearers feel safe, accepted and comfortable in sharing their experiences of voices, visions, tactile sensations and other unusual experiences and perceptions.

The course is aimed at people with lived experience, mental health staff and others who want to develop the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to facilitate a Hearing Voices Support Group, and who are in a position to set up a Hearing Voices Support Group, or join an existing group. Facilitators will also learn and experience ways to assist voice hearers to help and support each other, to exchange information, and to learn from one another. The course adheres to and works according to the values, principles and practices of the International Hearing Voices Movement.

We particularly welcome applications from people who hear voices. Please note, that we encourage people who have developed a working relationship with their voices to apply, as training and group facilitation can be demanding.

We also welcome joint applications.

The course is also open to individuals from jurisdictions outside of Ireland.

Places on the programme are limited to 20 and will be allocated on the basis of :

  • the details provided in the application form
  • the ability to attend all (or at least 7) sessions
  • start/facilitate/co-facilitate a Hearing Voices group following completion of the course.


8 x 3-hour weekly online sessions from Tuesday 19 April – Tuesday 7 June 2023 from 14.00 – 17.00 IST/UTC+1


  • €200 Euro – Waged/Professional (payments by instalments possible)
  • €50 Euro Unwaged/Voice Hearer (payments by instalments possible)
  • Limited number of Scholarships available (inquiries to

Application forms to be returned either by email to or by post to:

Harry Gijbels, 115 Atkins Hall, Lee Road, Cork T23 EA06

The closing date for applications is Friday 7 April 2023.
If you would like to discuss making an application and/or would like more information about the programme, please contact Harry at or on 085 7554220.

Research Study: How mental health nurses engage with voice hearers

Thanks for taking the time to read the information contained in this post. 

My name is Anita McCluskey, a mental health nurse, based in Dublin, and a PhD student in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. I am doing research looking at the ways in which mental health nurses engage and work with people who hear voices, whilst admitted to an acute mental health unit. 

Since 2013 I have worked in an acute mental health unit in Dublin. During this time, I have met many people who hear voices, and I always try supporting them to make sense of and cope with their voices in any way possible. I have undertaken some training such as such as CBT Techniques training and the Maastricht Interview workshop over the last few years, to get a better understanding of voice hearers’ experiences. This training has certainly helped me. Unfortunately, we know very little about how nurses and voice hearers interact and engage with one another in an acute unit. 

For this reason, I would like to talk with voice hearers, who have had an acute admission experience, and who currently attend a Hearing Voices Group, and who may be interested to share their experiences with me. I am particularly interested to hear what voice hearers have to say about the way mental health nurses engaged with them during their time in an acute mental health unit. Learning about these experiences will provide insight into how mental health nurses and voice hearers engage, which will inform and, where necessary, improve practices in this area.

If you are a voice hearer who meets the criteria (acute admission experience and currently attending a Hearing Voices Group) and are interested in talking with me, then please contact me at and I will contact you to provide further information.

If you are a health care or social care practitioner, and you know voice hearers who may be interested to share their experiences, then please share this information with them.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this.




On behalf of the HVNI Board, we’d like to invite you to the HVNI AGM 2022, which takes place on Wednesday 14 September from 18.00 – 20.00.

This year we go back to an in-person meeting, but we also will have an online presence, to accommodate those who are unable to travel to the venue:  Hotwell House, Enfield, Co Meath, A83 EP22.

It would help if you could let us know if you are attending in person.

The Zoom link for the meeting is:

The HVNI is always looking for new Board members, so please see below for the nomination form with details. We look forward to receiving nominations in advance of the meeting. If you are interested, or know of others who are, but are not sure what it entails, please email Harry Gijbels (

In addition to the formal AGM procedures, we look forward to hearing about the launch of a new HV support group, and hopefully also hear how HV related work is progressing across the country from individuals and/or from groups. 

At the Open Forum part of the meeting, attendees will have an opportunity to share their experiences, ask questions and provide suggestions.

We are pleased to have Jacqui Dillon as our special guest this year, who will share her wisdom in helping the HVNI to continue its work in supporting the hearing voices community.

Provisional schedule:

18.00 Welcome to AGM

18.10 Launch of new HV Support Group

18.30 Jacqui Dillon, guest speaker

18.50 Overview of HV activities over the last year

19.10 Nominations for HVNI Board and election of Board members

19.30 Open Forum

20.00 AGM finishes

We look forward to seeing many of you at the AGM.

Fundraising Cycle in aid of Hearing Voices Network Ireland

Harry Gijbels, an active member of the HVNI, started his annual cycling trip on 10 May in Rotterdam. He plans to cycle about 3000 kms, first to Oslo, then via Copenhagen and Berlin back to Rotterdam.

Like last year, he is fundraising for HVNI, raising funds to assist in the work of the HVNI. Last year’s fund raising helped to set up HV Facilitation Training, currently in progress, so hopefully HVNI may be able to do similar later this year.

HVNI would appreciate if you could share this message to your contacts to help Harry raise funds for HVNI, and, of course support the campaign yourself to reach its goal!

You can also follow Harry’s trip on his public Facebook page:

Research Study on Facilitators’ Experiences of Hearing Voices Support Groups

My name is Alison Branitsky and I am a PhD student at the University of Manchester in the UK. I am a lived experience researcher, meaning that my research is shaped by my personal experiences of voice hearing and facilitating peer support groups for voice hearers.

What is this research about?

While peer support groups for voice hearers exist across the world, they have only recently begun to take place online. I am interested in understanding how holding groups online impacts both the practicalities of running the group, as well as the experience of relationships and group dynamics between the members.

Who can participate?

Individuals aged 18 and over who have at least three months experience of facilitating support groups for voice hearers either face-to-face or online.

What would participation involve?

Participants will be asked to take part in a 1-hour audio-recorded interview with me about their experiences of facilitating hearing voices groups.

If you or any of your colleagues are interested in learning more about the study, please email Many thanks in advance for your consideration.

Best wishes,

Alison Branitsky

Research Study: The Everyday Lived Experience of Hearing Voices in Ireland

Joy Kelleher, a PhD student, is conducting research exploring the lived experience of people in Ireland who hear voices. There is a lack of research literature on the day-to-day lives of individuals in Ireland who hear voices and it is her hope to contribute research that will begin to address this lack of information.

If you are interested in sharing your story and your daily experiences of voice hearing, please consider taking part in this research project. Or if you know someone else that might be interested in this project, please consider sharing the information with them.

If you have any questions about the research, please don’t hesitate to contact Joy at

Donegal Hearing Voices Training

Making sense of voices: Utilising a biographical and social orientated approach to empower and enable mental health recovery

Facilitators: Pete Bullimore, Shaun Hunt & Kate Crawford

The traditional approach to working with voice hearers focuses upon inabilities and deficits, rather than individuals’ inherent ability to understand and cope with their voices and other experiences. This course is grounded on acceptance of lived experiences of voice hearing. Participants will be taught to employ the Maastricht Interview, an assessment tool developed by Dr Sandra Escher and Professor Marius Romme, which provides a structured method for understanding and working with a voice hearer’s experience. This training has been split into three days to maximize the learning potential. Attendance at ALL three sessions is required to complete the class.

 Where and When?

Venue: Raddison Blue, Letterkenny.

  • 1st Day – Monday, April 4th 2022, 9.30am to 4.30pm
  • 2nd Day – Tuesday April 5th 2020, 9.30am to 4.30pm
  • 3rd Day – Wednesday April 6th 2020, 9.30am to 4pm

Lunch and Tea will be offered for three days of training.

Who can attend?

This training is especially appropriate for mental health providers across all disciplines, voices hearers (similar experiences) and their family members/peer. It is expected that participant will become part of the Hearing voice Group in Donegal supporting facilitation of this Self- help Group. Some of the content of the narratives can be difficult to hear please try and identify someone you can speak to if required.

Closing Date for application: 11th March 2022

Future Information about the course contact:

Ursula Gallagher – 0879053747

Eoin Toomey – 0863396881

Jarlath Cannon- 0860477815