Dr John Cheetham, Dr Nina Melunsky

People with Intellectual Disabilities Hear Voices Too


Understanding and adapting best practice to support people with intellectual disabilities who hear voices that others cannot hear. A self-study guide





People with Intellectual Disabilities Hear Voices Too is a unique publication that aims to address a gap in understanding the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities who hear voices, and how best to offer support in practical, person-centred ways. It draws on best practice guidance on psychosis and also learning disability from NICE and from the British Psychological Society.

The self-study guide covers current knowledge on evidence-based theories of understanding voice-hearing, as well as common ways of understanding these experiences as described by voice-hearers, included in supportive video footage.

Contents include:

  • Myth and jargon busting
  • How people with intellectual disabilities are affected by voice-hearing
  • Theories of voice-hearing
  • Role of trauma
  • Evidence-based interventions
  • Common triggers and coping skills
  • Communication skills
  • How do we use this knowledge in practice?
  • How and when to seek help from services

A complementary resource pack and training pack are in development.

Many thanks to Photosymbols for kindly allowing the use of their images, without which this book would not have been possible. For more information, visit www.photosymbols.com.



This material is designed for anybody who supports someone with an intellectual disability who also hears voices, including support workers, family carers and mental health practitioners.


ISBN: 9781912755509

Publication Date: November 2019


Section 1: What is ‘voice-hearing’?
Chapter 1. What do we mean when we talk about ‘hearing voices’?
Chapter 2. Why do people hear voices?
Chapter 3. Is all voice-hearing the same?
Chapter 4. Can you have a mental health problem and hear voices?

Section 2: What’s it like to live with voices?
Chapter 5. What’s it really like to hear voices?
Chapter 6. What triggers a voice-hearing experience?

Section 3: What helps?
Chapter 7. What do we know helps people who hear voices?
Chapter 8. What skills can people learn to help them cope with distressing voices?
Chapter 9. Why is it important to have good communication skills?
Chapter 10. How and when should I seek help from mental health services?



Dr John Cheetham is a clinical psychologist working in a mental health in learning disabilities team in South London. Prior to working in learning disability services, John has worked in community and inpatient adult mental health teams, working to provide psychological interventions for people with complex mental health needs. He is particularly interested in how issues of social justice impact on the psychological wellbeing of people and communities, and making the evidence from psychological research meaningful and useful for people in the real-world.

Dr Nina Melunsky is a Clinical Psychologist working with adults with learning disabilities who have additional mental health difficulties. She currently works for South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.   Nina has worked as a Clinical Psychologist in both NHS psychosis and learning disability services and has a special interest in developing pathways for people with learning disabilities who hear voices which emphasise the personal meaning of voice hearing experiences and the role that trauma can play in their development.


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