A Fresh Approach to Taboo & Violent Voices

A Fresh Approach to Taboo & Violent Voices

How can we work with those voices we find hardest to hear?

About The Course

Whilst hearing voices is often a taboo in western cultures, linked with media stereotypes and images of ‘madness’, there are some kinds of voices that are even harder to talk about – ‘taboo voices’.

Taboo Voices may include ones that speak of violent and/or sexual themes – things that person, and those around them, find very distressing. They can be extremely graphic, sometimes overlapping with violent thoughts, impulses or disturbing visions.

This course offers trainees the opportunity to explore the experience of hearing taboo & violent voices and how we can safely support people who feel very overwhelmed by what their voices say.

The course comprises of four modules.

  • Module One: Taboo & Violent Voices: an introduction
  • Module Two: Re-framing Taboo & Violent Voices
  • Module Three: Finding a Safe Starting Point
  • Module Four: Helping People Make Sense of Taboo & Violent Voices

Each module contains:

  • a series of videos
  • a page of suggested reflective learning tasks

The course also includes:

  • a list of useful resources and additional reading


All Growing Pearls courses are offered on a PWYC (pay what you can afford) rate, so that lack of financial resources are not a barrier to learning. See the ethos section for more information on our approach.


The following answers a few questions that you may have about this course. If you want to check anything out with me before signing up - please email me at: pearls@behindthelabel.co.uk.

Who is this course aimed at?

This course is open to anyone who wants to learn more about ways of supporting people to deal with taboo or violent voices (voices that say things that we can find very difficult or upsetting to hear).

Lots of different people have taken part in this course in the past, including: nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, OTs, peer support workers, social workers, psychologists, substance misuse workers, support workers, Hearing Voices Group Facilitators, Open Dialogue Practitioners, family members, friends and people with their own experience of taboo voices).

You are welcome whether you are here for person or professional reasons (or a combination of the two). However, as the subject matter is very intense (taboo and violent voices is not voices 101) I ask that you think carefully about whether you feel in the right place - physically and emotionally - to do this course. The video material is divided up into lots of different sections, so you can go through it at your own pace (which can help with the intensity).

I do recommend, however, that you have taken some Hearing Voices Movement influenced training around hearing voices before beginning this course. That will help provide some of the foundational knowledge and experience that will help you engage with this course. You are welcome to sign up to my 'Living with Voices' course, first, if you'd like to be doubly sure. 

Why are the courses PWYC?

t's important to me that people aren't excluded from learning opportunities because of their ability to pay. One way of trying to manage this is to set different fee bands ... however, life is more complex than a few price tiers. Leaners may end up paying more, or less, than they are able simply because they fit into a certain category which takes no account of their individual circumstances. More worryingly, some way simply walk on by and not access learning they want and need because they cannot afford it (and do not feel comfortable asking for bursaries or an additional discount).

This year, because of Covid-19 and the challenges we all face, I am experimenting with the 'Pay What You Can' approach - trusting in integrity of those who attend my online training to balance what they feel the course is worth with what they are genuinely able to pay. Whilst this approach is not the norm, it is being used by a number of initiatives and - to me at least - feels a step forwards. My hope is that those who appreciate the learning community and training will value that in terms of what they pay in money, or offer additional support to help the community grow.

If you're so ethical, why not offer free training?

This is where I have to be honest. Training is my livelihood. Like many of you - I have bills to pay, a family to support and training fees is one of my main sources of income. Given the current financial uncertainty and the cancellation of so many face to face trainings and conferences - offering all my training for free just isn't wise. However, even if times were more stable, I'm not sure that would be the right call. I've spent a long time developing my approach and training materials, and invested time and money into my business.

The tendency to offer my services for free was something I had to battle with in my early days of being a survivor-trainer ... at that time I was grateful for any opportunity. It took time for me to realise that my work was of value ... and that payment isn't a dirty word. However, whilst I am happy to be paid these days - I want to operate in this world from a place of mutual respect. I respect you to pay what you can, and won't second guess or judge. You respect the work that has gone into what you buy when you're thinking of what you are able to pay. 

So, what should I pay?

This is up to you. I ask you to think about:

  • what you'd usually pay for 1 day's training PLUS 3 months input around these topics (based on your professional, your culture and your background)
  • how much you can afford without leaving yourself in financial difficulty
  • how much this particular course is worth to you at the moment

If you really need a price guide to help you get your bearings, that's OK. I have provided one day's training from anywhere between £0 and £200(+), with the majority being between £75 and £150. Yet that depends a lot on who's paying, their circumstances and who's choosing the ticket price.

I'm guessing that doesn't help many of you work out what my training is actually worth ... or what to pay for it. My advice is to go with your gut - what seems a fair price to you. If you have a company that will pay for you, go with their norms. I am happy to provide an invoice. If you're struggling to pay for electricity and food - please don't use your money on my training. If you'd like to contribute, let me know and we can do something 'in kind' where you offer a bit of your time instead.

What else can I offer? I can’t pay what it’s worth

Don't worry - I don't want you to pay with your soul :) If you would like to contribute above and beyond the amount you're able to pay, that's wonderful (but not mandatory).

The kinds of things that would benefit the community, include:

  • Transcribing part of one of the learning videos (so I can add subtitles for those who need them)
  • Translating materials (e.g. transcribed versions of the videos so I can add subtitles)
  • Promoting the courses and learning community
  • Writing a review or blog post of your experience on the course (or in the community)
  • Being an active and supportive member of our community - adding topics, responding to others and generally encouraging others to take part

I am sure there is more - so if you have any ideas, do let me know. Thank you for even thinking about it.

Do I get a certificate?

I offer certificates of completion for all of my courses.

However, I want the certificate to mean something to us both - rather than being a bit of paper that you get whether or not you actually did the training. So, in order to be eligible for a certificate I need to see that you have engaged with every module of the course (by doing one of the reflective learning tasks or engaging in a dialogue in the course area on every module).

This, I hope, will encourage you to engage with others in a similar way to the small group discussions in an in-person course that are often where people get to make sense of new concepts and apply them in their own life/practice.

Featured Clips

A taster of the learning material to wet your appetite

Growing Pearls Learning Community

Promoting creative and ethical responses to distress, trauma & mental health issues