About Voice Dialogue
Voice Dialogue is a technique for exploring our inner selves and learning to have a conscious relationship with them. It has been being developed by Hal and Sidra Stone since 1972. www.voicedialogue.org It is based on their theory of the Psychology of Selves and the Psychology of the Aware Ego which postulates that we are made up of selves or sub-personalities, as well as, a point from which we can be aware and a central executor of the psyche where we have the capacity to embrace these selves and choose how to manifest them in our lives. Practicing Voice Dialogue can inform us about how our personal life experience has produced habitual ways of being. We learn what motivates us and what discourages us, what dictates our perceptions and responses. We discover abilities that have been disowned and begin to expand our sense of ourselves and our articulation with the world around us. It is a powerful tool for explaining the dynamics in our relationships, guiding us to an understanding of others which allows clarity, intimate connection and reconciliation.
This technique is simple but not simplistic. It can be a valuable tool for individual personal growth and is used by therapists, educators, coaches, artists and performers, among others. If you are in any of these professions you can go beyond using Voice Dialogue personally and learn to teach its application to others in your field.
Voice Dialogue has three ingredients; the direct experience of sub-personalities, observation from a distance, which we call the Awareness Level and the ability for choice, called the Aware Ego Process.
As we write in the AEP Workbook, “The first level of exploration in Voice Dialogue is uncovering and understanding our many parts; their perspective, their history with us and the energy they carry. A facilitation provides the setting where these inner voices, are revealed to us in a most remarkable way. By giving a self its own physical place, we can move beyond our thoughts about that self into the direct experience of it. It can express itself without interference from other parts. There is a fascinating and sometimes shocking experience of a self as it puts forth its unique point of view clearly. These selves are real, as if they were separate individuals within us. We get to know them just as we would a new person we meet. We honor their individuality.
We need all of our selves because each one is capable of informing us about very different aspects of our lives. Because we have a wide range of selves, we can meet challenges with an expanded aptitude and wisdom.
In time, we develop a clear demarcation between what we call primary and disowned selves. Simply put, our initial primary selves are developed as we grow up to help us adapt to our specific family environment and social context. They are the fabric of who we think we are and the basis of how we operate in life. These selves become dominant because they create rules and boundaries to protect us. We also have inclinations that feel inherent to us. All of these function as our Operating Ego. In addition to these we have disowned selves which carry energies or ways of being that the primary selves had to suppress because they thought they were inappropriate in our childhood and culture.
Our primary selves may change as we move through life. New values and energies emerge as our contexts shift. Each new stage has a set of demands that may not have been present earlier. Our prior primary selves are still present, but they may no longer be fully in charge.
The second level of exploration in Voice Dialogue provides the possibility of witnessing our sessions from the Awareness Level. We literally step to this remote point of observation where there is no attachment to or opinion of our ways of being. We are able to see a lucid overview of our process.
The third element in Voice Dialogue is the Aware Ego Process. It is ignited as we move beyond the polarity of opposites and we begin to be able to embrace contrasting selves. With a clearer awareness of them, we grow in our ability to hold the tension between them. An opening is created for a relationship with our selves. This allows for a movement away from the authority of primary selves toward more conscious choice. This process brings us a deeper connection to our essence and the ability to have conscious linkage in our relationships.
As we move into a more subtle level of Voice Dialogue, we learn the language of energy. Each self carries its own particular vibration. As we meet them, we become familiar with this underlying aspect of their feeling and expression. This non-verbal level of human reality is often missed in our appreciation of who we are but it is of profound importance. You will find exercises here that will bring your attention to this essential aspect of the Aware Ego Process.”