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Title: Exploring Spiritualist officers' experiences and understandings of meeting voice hearers in the context of the church : a qualitative study
Author: Walker-Samuel, Natalie
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2011
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Objectives: To explore Spiritualist officers’ experiences and understandings of meeting individuals describing the experience of hearing voices in the context of the Spiritualist church. Method: Six in-depth, semi-structured interviews were carried out. Participants held official positions in Spiritualist churches and had experiences of meeting voice hearers in their roles. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse interviews. Results: Three superordinate themes emerged. The findings suggested concerns about negative perceptions of Spiritualism motivated participants to protect their beliefs. Participants created distinctions between spiritual and ‘mental health’ voice hearers and some expressed stigmatised views of mental health difficulties. They also described ways of differentiating between types of hearer. Participants appeared to experience tension between offering support and maintaining distance between types of hearers, resolving this through ‘gate keeping’ access to church support and drawing on Spiritualist principles regarding care. The personal impact of supporting voice hearers, the value and emotional challenges of their roles, were highlighted. Conclusion: The findings may be valuable to mental health professionals’ (MHPs) awareness of perceptions of voice hearing and mental health difficulties within this faith, enhancing culturally competent practice and beneficial to MHPs who may encounter hearers holding Spiritualist beliefs, or wishing to access support in this community. Responses to hearers within this faith from support to rejection and the implications for hearers’ are considered. The potential value and barriers to opening a dialogue between MHPs and Spiritualist organisations is discussed. Further, research exploring voice hearers’ experiences of support from this faith community is suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available