Voice Dialogue in Practice

Happy woman with megaphoneWhy did I choose voice dialogue as the cornerstone of my counseling and coaching practice? Voice dialogue moves clients through the most profound healing of life’s traumas, and takes them beyond these barriers to growth. The process brings the facilitator and the client into a collaborative, safe crucible that guides the client through their complex, captivating inner landscape. With new skills to manage and conduct these characters in life, clients begin to achieve “extreme psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.” With the help of voice dialogue they have the tools and self-knowledge to resiliently and effectively respond to conflicts and problems; while achieving their potential, and creating their dreams.

1. Voice dialogue is a brilliantly constructed method that allows me to draw on all of who I am. All the skills, insight, knowledge, and wisdom I have gleaned from a lifetime of personal and professional growth express through me as I facilitate a voice dialogue session.

2. Voice dialogue makes sense. Co-created by psychologists Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone, voice dialogue is based on forty years of study, clinical experience, and mapping of the human psyche (our inner world). It is founded on the premise that humans are not a single entity. Rather, they are made up of an organization of numerous and distinct structures called inner selves, sub-personalities, parts, or energy patterns. Each is born with a purpose, has its own beliefs about us and reality, and carries certain characteristics and behaviors. We develop and identify with our primary selves, while we bury or repress equal and opposite disowned selves. For much of our lives the primary selves are who we think we are. They are making our choices and driving our psychological car. By the very nature of life there comes a time where this imbalance creates problems and makes us blind to many new options or choices. Until we have choice, we are not free.

3. Voice dialogue is a well thought out, structured process by which we enter into direct communication with the client’s Inner Selves or sub-personalities. This careful step-by-step process makes voice dialogue the safest and most respectful tool for accessing the depths of the psyche that I have encountered. We never intrude into a person’s inner world without the permission of the existing ego structure. This means that if I have a dialogue with a disowned self (an aspect that is in the unconscious or shadow), the more conscious or primary selves have opened the gate to that territory voluntarily. This collaborative, inclusive approach brings astounding self-knowledge, and results in lasting healing and growth from the inside-out.

4. Voice dialogue guides the client toward a larger, more objective perspective, called the aware ego process that finds the gold in every sub-personality. This is a very expansive view that welcomes and includes even the most polarized and repressed aspects. Clients learn to incorporate the essence from opposite inner selves in response to life’s inevitable adversities; and to live, create, and communicate from much more of the totality of their being. The aware ego becomes a master of paradox (the ability to “sweat the tension of the opposites”), which is a foundation for living a more conscious life.

5. Voice dialogue works. In addition to learning about each inner self’s history, purpose, opinions, and behaviors; clients become aware that each has a distinct kinesthetic or energetic feel to it. One of the great gifts of the aware ego is its growing ability to conduct, or dial up and down, the energies of the selves. The aware ego process is like a conductor of the whole inner orchestra. As the client masters conducting, managing, and moderating the inner selves, almost unlimited options and choices become available. The client lives more from conscious choice than from automatic reactions and habits.

6. Voice dialogue is a flexible method. It supports the resolution of a full spectrum of presenting psycho-spiritual concerns: depression, bipolar clients, OCD, healing childhood trauma, recovery form destructive relationships and/or groups, processing loss and grief, sexual identity, blocks to creativity and aliveness, all kinds of relationship issues, eating disorders, lack of meaning or purpose, spiritual crisis or emergence, etc. Voice dialogue profoundly supports the life-long process of conscious evolution.

7. Voice dialogue empowers clients to be self-responsible. It gives them the skills to love, nurture and heal their wounded, traumatized inner child. As this happens, this vulnerable, sensitive, and essential part of the psyche no longer needs to reach out to get its needs met by another person. In turn, this generates relationships between equal adult partners that are more alive and spontaneous; and maintain connection, passion, and appropriate boundaries. They learn to love each other without losing themselves.

8. Voice dialogue is a fascinating, unpredictable, engaging process for both facilitator and client. As a counselor and coach my days are filled with intensely meaningful, enlivening, and life-changing work with my clients. I can honestly say I have never been bored, ever. My practice expanded tremendously as I incorporated voice dialogue into the mix. Word of mouth spread quickly as clients reported their successes.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • frank

    March 1st, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    I’ve read about voice dialogue in the past and I know for a fact that it is an effective way of looking at ourselves differently and this in turn helps us in connecting with others in a much better and improved manner.

  • Francesca Starr

    March 2nd, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    Thanks for your comment about Voice Dialogue. You touched on one of its most powerful benefits: “a new kind of relationship”. This is the title of the latest book by Hal and Sidra Stone – the creators of Voice Dialogue.

    You are absolutely correct: when you know more about who your inner parts or aspects are, how your Inner Selves operate, how they relate to each other, and what drives their reactions and behaviors; you realize that you are never dealing with just one entity or person, you interacting with a group of sub-personalities within the other. You stop expecting people to always be the same, to be consistent and predictable. Rather, you look for which selves in them are relating and reacting to some of your own Inner Selves. From this more aware place, you begin to practice making conscious choices as to which Selves and how much of each Self should be activated; because these parts will likely be more authentic, less judgmental, and just plain more effective. Relationships do transform into more equal, truthful, and intimate connections in which you both grow.

  • Maggie

    August 23rd, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    It’s funny because through all my scapegoat existence I have written “breadcrumbs” to find my way back, and it has served me. I was not crazy! All the crumbs fit into place! But one of my favorite types of poetry that I have written are the inner-dialogue pieces……we fight it out and yell at each other! It characterizes my later poems, but it is therapeutic to give voice to all your inner people. It’s not crazy…….for me in my life, I have to SEE/MANIFEST the darkness/voices before I can incorporate them. This seems like a natural technique!

  • Maggie

    August 23rd, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    Also, after reading your 4-part series I must wonder if this is the original purpose of the ego compartmentalization that I disdain so much in (particularly) the male ego? -Any correlation? -Or is it just my scapegoat existence that has generated so many overlapping voices that compartmentalization is a requisite for me? Do others have so many interior voices?

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