In July 2014, a year after providing the training to the Pathway Homes Family Group, Officer Scott Davis of the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) returned to present the Hearing Voices that Are Disturbing (Hearing Voices) Training to staff and volunteers. This was an invaluable opportunity for Pathways’ staff and other stakeholders to gain some insight into what some of the individuals we serve have dealt with for years and in some cases, continue to deal with every day.
The Hearing Voices Training is a simulation of auditory hallucinations that requires participants to complete a series of tasks while they listen to an incessant stream of voices via individual headphones. As with the real-life experience of people who experience auditory hallucinations, some of the voices in the training are pleasant, some funny, while others are mean and oppressive. It is a training that we offer to our staff, regardless of job function, every couple of years and the response is always resoundingly positive. Everyone usually reports an increased appreciation for what some of the people we serve go through each day as they deal with auditory or other types of hallucinations, while trying to perform everyday tasks.
The response from staff members attending the training continued to be highly positive, even for those who have attended the training previously. Two of our Board members, Jennifer McKenzie and Dara Aldridge were in attendance and expressed profound appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the training. Dara reflected, “When I feel overwhelmed by the noise, I turn down the volume or go to a place where it's quiet. This simulation gave me the opportunity to experience what it's like to not be able to get away from something that is overwhelming. The simulation gave me a small glimpse into what it is like to not be able to get to a safe place in my own head.” A Pathway Homes volunteer added, “This training allowed me the opportunity to develop the type of understanding and empathy I would not have been able to develop otherwise.”
The Hearing Voices training has been brought to Pathway Homes since 2004 courtesy of the MCPD in Maryland. The training is offered free of charge as a service to organizations, communities, and professionals as a means of educating them about the debilitating effects of these types of symptoms. The ultimate goal of the training is to provide service providers, family members, and law enforcement officials with the insight and tools to help them assist individuals with these symptoms in a more humane and person-centered manner.
Pathway Homes is extremely grateful to the Montgomery County Police Department of Maryland for continuing to make this resource available to the agency and its stakeholders for so many years.