More than just a place to talk: Young people's experiences of group psychological therapy as an early intervention for auditory hallucinations

Elizabeth Newton, Michael Larkin, Ruth Melhuish, Til Wykes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: Auditory hallucinations are extremely distressing, particularly when occurring during adolescence. They may be most responsive to psychological intervention during a three-year critical period following symptom-onset, but as yet no studies have investigated voices groups for young participants with adolescent-onset psychosis. The aim of the current study is to explore the experience of group-CBT amongst a group of young people experiencing distressing auditory hallucinations.

DESIGN: This project was planned and conducted in the tradition of idiographic, qualitative psychology. A small purposive sample was selected, and in-depth, open-ended interviews were conducted, in order to generate and explore rich, experiential accounts which are clearly situated and contextualized.

METHODS: Eight participants who had completed a cognitive behavioural group intervention were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. The transcribed data were analysed according to the principles of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA; Smith, Osborn, & Jarman, 1999).

RESULTS: Two superordinate themes emerged. The first describes experiential features of the respondents' accounts of group therapy. The second theme posits a cyclical relationship between four key factors: the content of the hallucinated voices, the participants' explanations for, and reactions to these voices, and thus, their ability to cope with them.

CONCLUSIONS: 'Voices groups' are appreciated by young people with auditory hallucinations, as sources of therapy, information, and support. These results suggest a number of testable hypotheses about the efficacy of group treatment and its future development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-149
Number of pages23
JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Hallucinations
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Peer Group
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Social Support
  • Treatment Outcome


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