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Compassion for voices

Compassion for Voices is a five minute animated film designed to engage a non-academic audience with the compassionate approach to relating to voices. The film has potential for use as a therapeutic, educational and de-stigmatising tool.

Compassion for voices is a King’s College London project and was as part of the 2014 Collaborative Innovation Scheme for Early Career Researchers. It was led by Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland, Department of Psychology, in collaboration with Kate Anderson, an independent animation director.


Historically, the primary aim of psychosis treatment has been to reduce or eliminate psychotic experiences (eg with antipsychotic drugs), which has shaped our broader cultural views of these phenomena as being the undesirable symptoms of a disordered brain. This results in stigmatisation of people with such experiences, which is not only isolating and shaming for them, but can also drive them into an internal battle with their experiences, e.g. attempting to fight, control or suppress them. 

This film presents an alternative way of relating to experiences; this goes against the tide of traditional approaches and culturally engrained attitudes. It charts the therapeutic progression of a young man, Stuart, from being tormented by his voices, through establishing safeness, to developing the qualities needed to engage with his voices through compassionate dialogue. For people with psychosis, this may have therapeutic value as a template or metaphor for their own recovery journey.

You can hear Charlie and Kate discussing the project here:

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The project team would really value feedback from anyone who has watched the film. They would be interested ot hear about the film’s impact on people's understanding of voices and those who hear them. Feedback can be provided here.

Read the feedback 

Feedback that the project team has received so far is availble here.

Project team

Project leads:

Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland - a clinical psychologist, researcher and trainer, specialising in the science and application of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). He is currently researching compassion in psychosis for an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship award at King’s College London. He provides psychological therapies in NHS psychosis services, and in private practice. He also runs various compassion training workshops for practitioners and the general public. View Charlie’s researcher profile

Kate Anderson - an independent animation director. Following an MA in Animation at the Royal College of Art, Kate began her professional career with production company HSI London. Here she worked on a diverse array of animated shorts, music videos and commercials, gaining experience as both animator and director. Since 2010 she has been working independently, reaching out to new creative horizons with collaborators including documentary film makers, artists, and young people using music as a means to change their lives. For details of Kate’s past projects, visit her website.

Other contributors:

Eleanor Longden - Eleanor has provided the voice of narrator for this film which was recorded by Nick Roberts at 5A Studios in London. Eleanor gave a very popular TED talk on her personal experiences with voices, with over 2.8 million views, which was one of the inspirations behind this film. Watch Eleanor’s TED talk

Rufus May - Rufus provided the voice of Stuart’s voices for this film, which was recorded by Alex Quinn. Rufus is an inspirational figure in the hearing voices world, probably best known for using his own experiences of being a psychiatric patient to promote alternative recovery approaches for people who hear voices. Visit Rufus’s website

Cicely Goulder - Cicely provided the musical composition for this film. Cicely is a London based composer/producer, she writes film-scores and is one half of electronic duo KALEIDA. Visit KALEIDA’s website.

Richard Keyworth - Richard provided the sound design and mix for this film. Richard is a multi-instrumentalist composer and sound designer for all manner of visual media. Visit Richard’s website.


Compassionate Mind Foundationcompassionatemindfoundation-gn
The Compassionate Mind Foundation is a UK charity that aims to promote wellbeing through the scientific understanding and application of compassion. The president of the Foundation, Paul Gilbert, is the founder of Compassion Focused Therapy, and the Foundation is the main organisation behind developing and teaching this approach to therapy. Visit their website.

Balanced Minds balancedminds
Balanced Minds is a London-based organisation, providing compassion-focused psychological services and resources. They offer therapy, supervision, and training workshops, with an approach grounded in the science of compassion. Visit their website.

Medical Research Council mrclogo
The Medical Research Council (MRC) is a UK national organisation that aims to improve human health through funding research into all areas of medical and related science, including mental health research. The MRC are funding Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland’s 3-year research Fellowship on developing Compassion Focused Therapy for psychosis. Visit their website.

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