Credentials Display

Karen McCarthy, OTD, OTR/L; Kristen Gottheil, OTS; Emilio Villavicencio, OTS; Huilim Jeong, OTS


Background: Limited research has been conducted that explores the occupational experience of hearing voices, including the impact it has on romantic and/or sexual relationships. This study aims to address this gap by capturing the experience of romantic and sexual relationships for those who hear voices.

Method: A phenomenological approach was used to gather data from a survey, electronic diaries, and interviews of three voice hearers who were interested or actively in a casual or serious relationship.

Results: All of the participants reported that the voices in some way impacted their past or current romantic and sexual relationships. The dynamic relationship between voices and occupation could directly or indirectly impact the experience of occupation with their partner. Voices with personas were found to have varying levels of participation in occupations, with some becoming co-occupations between the participant and their voices. Support from their partner was valued, though varied by participant, with some of the participants seeking outside support from peers with shared experiences.

Conclusion: This research challenges the idea of the individual having full agency during occupational performance. Because voices can actively participate during co-occupations, occupational therapists need to inquire about their voices during evaluation and include them during interventions.


The authors report no potential conflicts of interest.