Mental Health Association of Portland

Oregon's independent and impartial mental health advocate

Facilitators wanted for Portland Hearing Voices — paid positions, training provided

Posted by Jenny on 3rd April 2014

Portland Hearing Voices is recruiting facilitators for its new group, “Voices, Visions and Extreme States.” PHV will provide training and supervision. You will work with a co-facilitator and be paid a stipend.

If you have lived experience of voices, visions or extreme states, and you are interested in facilitating, contact Kate Hill, PHV Director, at

DOWNLOAD the flier below as a PDF (14.5MB)

READ about the new Voices, Visions and Extreme States group

VISIT the Portland Hearing Voices website

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Portland Hearing Voices is back – and they’ve got a new group

Posted by Jenny on 10th March 2014

By Jenny Westberg, Portland Mental Health Examiner, March 10, 2014

PHV Heads 376x305 Flier_0003After a long hiatus that temporarily shelved their popular, twice-weekly support groups, Portland Hearing Voices Director Kate Hill announced yesterday that a new group is gearing up for action and scheduled to go live on Friday, April 4.

The new group will take place at Outside In, a social service agency in downtown Portland that works to address the needs of homeless youth and other marginalized people. Outside In is also co-sponsoring the new group along with PHV.

The Voices, Visions and Extreme States group will meet Friday, April 4, from 6-7:30 PM at Outside In, 1132 SW 13th Avenue, Portland, OR. Thereafter it will meet every Friday.

The group is free of charge and open to any person who has experienced voices, visions, or extreme states of consciousness or perception. Only people with lived experience may attend. Family members, health care professionals, journalists and others may not attend, unless they have lived experience themselves.

“We’re so excited to get these groups up and running again,” said Hill. ”I am very grateful for all of the support that we’ve received from local organizations and agencies, and so happy that we now have a way to sustain ourselves!”

The groups are vitally needed, said PHV Founder and Assistant Director Will Hall.

“These non-judgmental support groups are a vital alternative that have helped hundreds of people reconnect with the community,” Hall said.

“The alliances we have built with service providers, such as Outside In and Mental Health America of Oregon, mean we are growing from our grassroots and volunteer beginnings, while keeping true to our unique vision and values,” he said.

The Voices, Visions and Extreme States group will be part of the U.S. arm of an international network of Hearing Voices groups.

Hearing Voices Network USA (HVN-USA) is one of more than 20 national networks of Hearing Voices groups all over the world, with each network comprising many individual groups. In the U.K. alone, there are now more than 180 Hearing Voices groups. INTERVOICE, the International Network for Training, Education and Research into Hearing Voices. is the international network.

Hearing Voices networks don’t just provide support groups, they offer a new way of thinking about voice-hearing, one that doesn’t see it as a sign of sickness or abnormality. Many voice-hearers find that Hearing Voices groups give them the tools and support they need to cope with voice-hearing and re-engage with their lives.

Back when PHV support groups went on hiatus, organizers had no certainty they would return. But PHV’s new director, Kate Hill, was determined. She sent countless emails, made call after call, and pounded the pavement, following up on leads, building alliances, and never giving up, until she could honestly say, “Portland Hearing Voices has returned.”

Will Hall, the assistant director and founder of PHV, praises her hard work, done well — which got results.

“Congratulations to our new director, Kate Hill, for this successful organizing!” said Hall.


Voices, Visions and Extreme States
Fridays, starting April 4, 2014
6-7:30 PM
Outside In, 1132 SW 13th Avenue, Portland, OR


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Meet Kate Hill, the new director of Portland Hearing Voices

Posted by Jenny on 10th October 2013

Kate Hill, Director of Portland Hearing Voices

Kate Hill, Director of Portland Hearing Voices

By Jenny Westberg, Portland Mental Health Examiner, Oct. 10, 2013

With groups on hiatus and events on hold, you may wonder whether Portland Hearing Voices disappeared – but nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the scenes there’s all sorts of activity, the pre-work of being able to have groups again in the future.

There has also been a major change in leadership. Founder and longtime director Will Hall, who is only living in Portland part-time now, stepped down from the director’s post, naming Kate Hill as the new director. Hall will still be part of the leadership, as the assistant director.

I interviewed Kate, 32, a North Portland resident, by phone this afternoon. The best news for those concerned about whether groups will be back is that Kate is confident, as soon as PHV gets the resources it needs (being worked on daily) the organization will be back in full force. Get to know Kate — you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from her!


Jenny Westberg: I remember you from the Downtown Chapel! So you were one of the very first people to come there.

Kate Hill: I was! That was quite awhile ago.

JW: What drew you to PHV, and what kept you coming back?

Embrace Mental DiversityKH: Well, I first found out about it through an official networking site online, and someone – I don’t think I ever met this person, but she put a post up, and it said, “Embrace Mental Diversity.” So I was very excited, and so I just followed the links back to the Portland Hearing Voices page. And I was very impressed by it.

It was actually a strange moment in my life, because I had never thought about relating my experiences to what most people call schizophrenia. So, I had this kind of very, very, very strange, paradoxical moment right then, where I realized that I both could be diagnosed with schizophrenia, and at the same time, sort of found a place that – well, it didn’t seem like they were interested in diagnosing me with schizophrenia! (laughs) It seemed like a safe place to go, so I decided to go and check it out. And when I went there, I had never before told anyone about my experiences – I had attempted to, one time, but immediately got negative feedback from it. So I just never really talked about it again. And that wasn’t really happening here. Will was very open, and it seemed like just a very safe place.

I didn’t talk – I didn’t talk for at least the first few months I went there, but I still went there. And I heard how people were openly communicating about their experiences, and everything was fine. Nobody got carted away or started getting treated like an alien. It was really a wonderful environment.

JW: When was it you started facilitating groups?

KH: I started facilitating groups about two years ago.

Will Hall, Assistant Director of Portland Hearing Voices

Will Hall, Assistant Director of Portland Hearing Voices

JW: Was that subbing for Will?

KH: Yeah! It was when Will just had something else to do one day, and he sent me a text message, asking me if I would “take group today.” And I said, “Yeah, sure!”

JW: And the rest is history, right?

KH: Yeah, the rest is history.

JW: So, now you’re the director. How long has it been that you’ve been in that position?

KH: About 2 months ago, I think.

JW: What do you think prepared you for this challenge? And how do you feel about it right now?

KH: I think probably the major thing that prepared me for this challenge was having Portland Hearing Voices as a support, for a number of years. I guess I was able to make up everything that I lost over those years, due to my situation – the experiences I’ve had, and our culture’s response to those things. It gave me a safe place to – I don’t really like the term “recover” — but kind of recover.

JW: Many people who go through these kinds of experiences in young adulthood, they kind of get derailed, and not finish college or anything – did that happen to you?

KH: Yeah! Yeah, it really happened to me! I feel like I’m learning things now that I should’ve been learning as a child.

JW: Are you back in school now?

PHV visit to the Portland campus of Oregon State Hospital. (Kate's in the back row, on the left.)

PHV visit to the Portland campus of Oregon State Hospital. (Kate’s in the back row, on the left.)

KH: Yes, I’m going to two schools.

JW: Oh, wow!

KH: Yeah.

JW: Which schools?

KH: I’m going to the Process Work Institute and I’m going to the Knightsbridge Institute.

JW: Do you have a background in community organizing?

KH: No, not really! (laughs)

JW: So you’re learning as you go!

KH: Yeah.

JW: Is Process Work giving you some interesting things to try out, as far as community work?

KH: Yeah, they’re all about community, and they’re all about culture, and identity, and one of their big things is that it takes everybody to represent reality. You know, if there’s one portion of the population that isn’t being represented, then nobody has a clear vision of exactly what’s going on. Right?

JW: Oh, yeah, that’s very good.

KH: And that’s just logic. (laughs) So, that’s one of the things I’m learning from the Process Work Institute. And how to approach the various aspects of both one person, and a community, at the same time, because their parts kind of have similar responses and relationships with each other.

JW: Right now, Portland Hearing Voices is working really hard to find a landing place, and find some funding. Are you pretty confident that PHV is going to continue, and groups will be back?

KH: I am pretty confident. Really, it’s about the sustainability factor. So there’s a portion of it that’s not exactly in my control. But if we were to get the resources – I’d feel, I would say, VERY confident that we’d be able to make it a sustainable operation. We went through it one time before, and it was pretty sustainable with very little funding. So I think we could do a spectacular job if we had all the resources we needed. There’s no doubt that people need us, because we hosted so many groups, for so long, and they were well-attended, by people who would just gush over them!

JW: Oh, definitely! –My own personal view is that Portland would be a poorer place without Portland Hearing Voices.

KH: I agree.

JW: Just the fact they exist here makes it a better city. Last question: What are some of your hopes and dreams for Portland Hearing Voices?

KH: Well, I would say the two primary elements of my dream for Portland Hearing Voices include getting back up to at least two groups a week, if not extending our groups into another women’s group, maybe an ex-con group, I’ve heard the idea of having groups that are specific to people’s religions. But at least two groups a week would be nice, and to have regular facilitator training. Because there’s just a wealth of knowledge that needs to be passed on, to people who want that knowledge. So it’s just a matter of making that connection, and helping it to continue to grow.

JW: How can people help? If someone reads this article, and they go, “Whoa! I really want this to start up again!” What can they do?

KH: They can donate money, donate their time, effort, help us to get the word out – those would be the major things.

JW: And they can get in touch with you how?

KH: My PHV email address is

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Portland Hearing Voices needs your support!

Posted by admin2 on 4th December 2012

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your support of Portland Hearing Voices! Your donations have kept us going strong for three years, free from any government or pharmaceutical company funding.  We are grateful that none of our funding sources have ever caused us to compromise our values, and we plan to continue that way.  This allows us to provide a unique and much-needed supplement and/or alternative to mainstream mental health services.

Over the past year we have trained eight new facilitators for our team and gone from two support groups a month to two a week, and we have added a weekly Women’s Survivors of Sexual Trauma support group.  In addition, we have hosted two facilitators’ trainings open to the general public, both of which were well attended and successful. Thank you to those who attended!  These trainings allowed us to expand our vision, share it with others, teach people what we do, and increase the web of support available for people experiencing extreme states of consciousness, voices and other emotional challenges.  We have also trained other groups about our approach, including Sisters of the Road, PSU social work students, and Rethinking Psychiatry conference participants.

We continue to encourage mental diversity and informed choice in treatment, and the most important element of our work remains community building for people who would otherwise be isolated.  Our groups are a bridge for many people to recreate community after long periods of isolation.  People in our groups often say this has saved their lives and/or given them a place to go when nowhere else felt safe.

You have supported all this, and we would not be where we are without you.  The money you donated in the past allowed us to pay our volunteers small stipends, keep our website going, and cover essential costs.  But now, with three support groups and a very small budget, our money is getting tight.

We hope that when you consider your holiday donations you will remember Portland Hearing Voices.  Your generosity will keep us strong, now and in the years to come.  Our work is becoming more and more needed as funds and services are cut from mainstream health care, and as an increasing number of people seek to understand their experiences in deeper, more revolutionary ways.

“The salvation of the world lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” – Martin Luther King

To donate via PayPal, please go to and click “Donate.” You may also send a check by postal mail, payable to Portland Hearing Voices, PO Box 3641, Portland Oregon, 97208.

We also invite you to join us at our FREE Holiday Talent Fair!

See flier below, or download a PDF: Talent Show Flier

Thank you so much for your support!
Chaya Grossberg
Assistant Director
Portland Hearing Voices

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Portland Hearing Voices Facilitators Training: Reserve your space now

Posted by admin2 on 4th October 2012

Portland Hearing Voices Presents:

A Facilitators Training

November 5 at 10:00am until November 6 at 4:00pm in PST

Our United Villages, 3625 North Mississippi Avenue, Portland, OR 97227

  • What are extreme states?
  • Where do they come from and what do they mean?
  • How can we support members of the community who experience voices and extreme states,

both in coping with challenges and nurturing strengths?

  • What are Hearing Voices groups, and why are they making a difference in people’s lives?

This two-day training for mental health consumers, providers, and anyone who is interested, will provide you with a deeper understanding of extreme states and voices, and prepare you to start your own Hearing Voices group. Led by facilitating trainers Chaya Grossberg and Kate Hill, the training will include a brief history of the Hearing Voices movement (which started in the UK), an informed perspective on medications, the importance of spirituality, and the repercussions of trauma. Participants will develop their skills with hands-on learning experiences, including practice groups and role-playing of challenging scenarios. People on or off medications are welcome.

Cost: $140 | Scholarships available; please inquire.

Space is limited to 40 participants. Preregistration is required.

Download the Flier (PDF, 160KB)


Facilitators for this Training:

Chaya Grossberg

Chaya Grossberg

Chaya Grossberg, assistant director of Portland Hearing Voices, has facilitated support groups with people experiencing extreme states of consciousness for 10 years. She has also spoken and written publicly about her own experiences and views of extreme states. She seeks to empower us as individuals with unique experiences of what we call reality.

Kate Hill

Kate Hill

Kate Hill is currently a Portland Hearing Voices facilitator. She is also a former Mental Health Assistant and psychiatric survivor. She has been living in Portland for 20+ years, finds language in the fine and performing arts, and is pursuing an education at the Process Work Institute.


To reserve your space, or if you have any questions, contact:
Chaya at
or Kate at

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Portland Hearing Voices brings mental diversity to POSH

Posted by admin2 on 8th April 2012

By Jenny Westberg, Portland Mental Health Examiner, April 8, 2012

Studies show 2 to 10 percent of persons voice-hearers, including many with no psychiatric illness.  (Image:

Studies show 2 to 10 percent of persons voice-hearers, including many with no psychiatric illness. (Image:

As Portland Hearing Voices nears its third anniversary, the peer-run community group is growing fast and more active than ever.

In January, director Will Hall trained seven new co-facilitators, enabling  the popular, often-packed Voices, Visions and Extreme States group to start meeting weekly; a support group for women survivors of sexual trauma started in March;  additional Voices and Visions groups are in the works, reaching throughout the city and beyond; and other ventures are taking shape.

It’s an exciting time for an organization that has exceeded all expectations since its beginning in 2009.  This upstart group of outsiders, whose very existence challenges accepted psychiatric wisdom, who champion “mental diversity” and welcome those at the extreme edge of reason, should by all rights have been a flash in the pan.  Yet Portland Hearing Voices has somehow persisted, growing in size and influence, quietly changing the world.

But if it’s surprising that Portland Hearing Voices got started at all, and more surprising they’re still around and flourishing, it was stunning when recently the group took its message of mental diversity inside the locked doors of the Portland campus of the Oregon State Hospital.

The local campus of OSH, known as “POSH,” is located in Northeast Portland at the site of the former Holladay Park Hospital.  Patients at POSH have been civilly committed or voluntarily committed by a guardian.  According to the Oregon State Hospital website, patients’ days are filled with skill-building, educational and therapeutic groups designed to prepare them for a successful transition back into the community.   On March 12, they had the opportunity to hear about a different approach to group support.

Thanks to an invitation by POSH peer recovery specialist Scott Snedecor, the morning of the 12th, Hall and four PHV co-facilitators met at the hospital to speak to a group that included patients, social workers, an occupational therapist, and a couple of very interested psychiatrists.

One of the presenters was Chaya Grossberg, a community organizer for the Mental Health Association of Portland who has been involved in Hearing Voices groups outside of Portland for approximately 10 years.  She described the visit to POSH:

“Kate, CJ, Nicole, Will and I moved the chairs into a circle.  We sat and introduced ourselves to the staff members and patients who were there, and then each of the co-facilitators talked about our experiences in Portland Hearing Voices, and shared some of our personal  stories.  Then we opened it up into a wider discussion.

“We talked a lot about how Portland Hearing Voices is peer-run, so that everyone who’s a co-facilitator also has personal experience [with voices or extreme states].  We talked about the value of that, and how it helps people feel safe to share – there’s no professional sitting there writing down what we say.”

Grossberg said it’s the presenters’ hope that POSH staff might refer patients to Portland Hearing Voices groups when they leave.   But a main goal was simply to introduce attendees to a different perspective on mental health and support.  While some people find mainstream approaches very helpful, she said, not all do.

Grossberg added that she values Portland Hearing Voices because “everyone is on an equal plane.  There aren’t any experts.   Peer support is really important to me, and one reason is the friendships I’ve made.   Also there’s a sense of being part of a larger movement, moving away from classifying people ‘crazy’ or ‘sane,’ ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal.’

“I really feel passionate about the movement toward democratizing mental health, and moving closer to true mental diversity.”

Hall said the visit was a success.  “One of our priorities is building bridges to reach people unhappy with their mental health treatment and professionals looking for ways to change.  It’s great to see so much interest in Portland, even at a locked inpatient facility.”

For Portland Hearing Voices, it was just one more daunting hurdle to leap over with ease.   It’s impossible to know what the next years hold for PHV, but based on the last three, it should be surprising — and just might change history.

Find out more about Portland Hearing Voices at (for support group information, click “Upcoming Events,”  then “Ongoing Groups”).   You can also call 413-210-2803, or email

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Empowerment Initiatives Provides Peer Specialists for Innovative New Centerstone Clinic

Posted by admin2 on 13th March 2012

Empowerment Initiatives Logo

The Centerstone Clinic is the first of its kind in Oregon, blending traditional mental health services with Peer Delivered Services. The Centerstone Clinic is for residents of Clackamas County to access help 7 days per week. It opens later this month near the Clackamas Town Center.

In addition to offering traditional crisis supports, persons can access Peer Delivered Services, which include: problem solving and crisis support, in home or community based person directed planning, WRAP® plans, in home respite support, Hearing Voices groups, transportation planning, RentWell© education, medication empowerment education, resource support, facilitating community integration and work activities.

This valuable resource will be available for people who just walk in off the street, and also will be an option that other parts of the mental health system can offer for people in need. The Clackamas County Crisis Line, Crisis Services, and Commitment Investigators will all be able to make referrals.

Clackamas County Logo

The Centerstone Clinic is based on the Sanctuary Model. Their website states “The Sanctuary Model® represents a theory-based, trauma-informed, evidence-supported, whole culture approach that has a clear and structured methodology for creating or changing an organizational culture”, and “The concept of ‘sanctuary’ refers to the important emphasis we place on the active and conscious development of a sense of safety within the context of a therapeutic milieu”.

Those of us who have been in a mental health crisis know how vitally important that feeling of safety is to helping us come out of our crisis. When we are in a safe and welcoming place, we are able to take those first steps on the road to our recovery.

The idea of ‘changing an organizational culture’ is also timely in these days of healthcare transformation in Oregon. Empowerment Initiatives is uniquely qualified to be in partnership with Clackamas County in the development and delivery of these new services. Empowerment Initiatives has been delivering cutting-edge services to Peers in Oregon since April 2004. They are run by people with a lived experience of mental health issues.

Centerstone Clinic
11211 SE 82nd Ave, Suite O
Happy Valley, OR 97086
Phone: (503) 722-6200
Tri-met Lines: 72

Empowerment Initiatives is a nationally recognized expert in Peer Brokerage Services. They currently provide Peer Supports at several of Clackamas County’s supported housing, clinics, and also work with Crisis Services.

Together, Empowerment Initiatives and Clackamas County are blending their strengths to provide new opportunities for people with a lived experience of mental health issues to find safety and recovery in their lives.

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New Peer Support Group for Women Survivors of Sexual Trauma Starts March 7

Posted by admin2 on 7th March 2012

By: Women Survivors of Sexual Trauma, for The Lund Report, February 14, 2012

A new, weekly peer-facilitated support group, Women Survivors of Sexual Trauma, will hold its first meeting Wednesday, March 7, and thereafter it will meet every Wednesday from 7-8:30 p.m. at Empowerment Initiatives, 3941 SE Hawthorne Blvd. in Portland.

The group will be open to all women, including transgender persons who identify as women, who have undergone traumatic sexual experiences.

“We refer to ‘sexual trauma’ rather than saying the group is for survivors of rape, or abuse, or words like that, because often we have such shame that we tell ourselves it wasn’t really rape, it wasn’t really incest, and so on,” said co-facilitator Jenny Westberg.

“We don’t want women excluding themselves. If you’ve had sexual experiences that were traumatic, you’re welcome in this group.”

Approximately 1 in 4 Oregon women (1 in 5 nationally) have been victims of rape and/or other forms of sexual violence, according to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but locally there are few resources. The groups available through the Portland Women’s Crisis Line, for instance, rarely have immediate openings. The new group will be one more resource for Portland-area survivors.

Organizers want the group to be a safe place to share, listen, and discover common areas of experience.

“In sharing our stories, we reclaim the parts of ourselves we lost in the trauma. This has an empowering effect and it connects us to others. When we release the secretiveness and shame, we reclaim our voices.” said co-facilitator Chaya Grossberg.

The group will be free of charge, with donations appreciated.

Co-facilitators Jenny Westberg and Chaya Grossberg are survivors and mental health activists who both work with the Mental Health Association of Portland.

The group is sponsored by Portland Hearing Voices, which has been running a successful Extreme States and Voices support group for the past three years. Portland Hearing Voices director Will Hall also provided facilitation training.


413.210.2803 —

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