Relating Therapy is a treatment for distressing voices currently being developed in the UK by Mark Hayward. It encourages voice-hearers to treat their voices as if they were people that they have a difficult relationship with, and whose behaviour – what they do, and what they say – is dependent on how the voice-hearer relates and interacts with them.
In Relating Therapy, clients are trained in how to express their views in an assertive and respectful manner. They are encouraged to examine any difficult relationship in their lives and practice being assertive through a series of role-plays with the therapist, in which they take turns in playing themselves and the other people. Through improving their ability to manage difficult relationships and developing their skills in relating to others, they are better placed to deal with their voices when they are distressing.
The goal of relating therapy is not to get rid of the voices, but to decrease distress by changing the way the person responds to and interacts with them.
It is only really available to people in the South-East of England through the Sussex Voices Clinic, though some NHS staff and private practitioners have integrated particular aspects of Relating Therapy – for example, the role-plays – into their clinical practice.
… the main thing I got out of [Relating Therapy] is learning to be assertive with my voices and with other people. … It helped me see things differently. … because I’m practicing [being assertive] in everyday life, when the voices aren’t around as much at the moment, when they do come back, I’m still used to being assertive, so I can be assertive with [the voices].