Voice Dialogue is a talk therapy developed by Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone, well-known psychotherapists, who identified that we each have a set of separate selves or sub-personalities with various agendas that operate together to make up our personality. Some of our selves are more dominant and are called “primary selves” and others are stifled, hidden, kept in the closet, and are called “disowned selves.” Several of the common primary selves of most people are the Responsible Mother or Father, the Protector/Controller, the Inner Critic, the Pusher, the Pleaser, the Sexual/Sensual Self and the Vulnerable Child. Some disowned selves might be the Saboteur, the Wild Woman or Man, the Social Butterfly, the Wanderer, the Dreamer, the Irresponsible Self, the Whiner, the Prince/Princess, the Brat or the Rebel. To bring out these various selves and encourage their expression is very freeing to the client, makes the agendas of each self clear, and allows those voices that need more expression to have more air time, while turning down the volume on those voices that are overly dominant.
In Voice Dialogue, the therapist encourages a client’s primary selves to express themselves one at a time, having the client move to a different chair or seat when each new voice emerges. Between selves, the client returns to the Aware Ego or Aware Self, a detached self which overviews and negotiates between all the separate parts of ourselves. The Aware Ego reflects on what a voice has just expressed, and then allows more expression from that self in the future, or less. It allows a change in behavior, new activities which will allow the self more freedom, etc. As therapy progresses over several sessions, the client may become comfortable with letting his/her less dominant selves come out and express themselves. The selves do not talk to each other, only express their agenda and feelings. The Aware Ego then decides which selves need more expression and perhaps certain activities to help them feel happy. As an example, a client may find that his Pusher Self is out of control, driving him to exhaustion in an attempt to achieve a variety of goals. Speaking from his Aware Ego, he may decide to limit the influence and power of the Pusher, by determining not to let that side of himself dominate. He may decide instead to allow his Inner Child or Dreamer self to have a day of play or relaxed day-dreaming.
By allowing these various parts of ourselves to speak and express themselves, we can get clear on what all aspects of ourselves want and need. This allowing creates a release of stress and a harmonious working together of all the aspects of our being. One of the primary goals of this type of therapy is to allow each voice to be heard and for each part to feel that it is accepted. We do not want to judge or get rid of any part, but merely to allow it to express itself and to feel accepted. After expressing itself, a change may occur for that voice or part, or it may continue its current behavior. The Aware Ego may decide to turn the volume down on a part that is causing imbalance for the whole person. Parts work or Voice Dialogue is a very effective method of helping a client get clear and begin a path of healing.