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The Practice of Voice Dialogue Work

by J'aime ona Pangaia
copyright 2001
Downloadable pdf file (1.01MB)

One extraordinary conscious awareness process is a method called “Voice Dialogue." This is an energetic and interactive process developed by Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone. It is a practice that stems from their body of work called the Psychology of the Aware Ego.
Voice Dialogue is a technique for the exploration of sub-personalities and the expansion of consciousness.” - Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone
A Voice Dialogue facilitation works with three aspects of Psyche: Awareness (also known as our non-judgmental witness state), Ego, and the energetic sub-personalities, or Inner Selves. Ideally, our ego is our conscious capacity to choose or decide. In traditional psychology, the ego has been known as the “executive function of the psyche.” Before a consciousness process begins, our Ego usually makes decisions based on the perspectives of whatever inner selves we are currently identified with. In other words, there is no true free will as long as a person is identified with any particular psychological part/self ( or system of parts/ selves). Being identified with a self means that at that moment, you are absolutely convinced that that is who you are, and the picture of reality which that self gives you IS actual and full reality. If it is a self (system) that you are primarily identified with, it is like a program that has been running “the show” (of your life) and it will continue to run your show until either another inner self takes over your ego, or you have an Aware Ego Process available.
"Voice Dialogue Work always begins by identifying and honoring the primary selves."
Voice Dialogue begins with a unique dialogue process between a facilitator and a subject that supports a keen, non-judgmental experience of the particular feelings, beliefs, history, mannerisms, motives and essential embodied feeling-tone of the inner self being explored.
This facilitation of an inner self includes:
the subject moving over to sit, stand or move in a new physical location to embody and give voice to a particular part
usually, an attentive verbal and/or energetic dialogue based on respectful inquiry/contact between the facilitator and that part of the subject the subject moving over to sit, stand or move in a new physical location to embody and give voice to a particular part
a clear energetic rapport between the facilitator and the subject
an genuine acknowledgement of the living, experience of this part of the person
it can even take place in complete silence, if that's how a particular inner part expresses itself
support in maintaining a congruent energetic expression of the self being facilitated, without the interference of other inner selves
a return to the original physical position with the aim of keeping a separate ego awareness of the inner self just facilitated.
training this newly aware person to learn how to separate from and engage, by choice, the inner selves discovered in facilitation.
The benefit of dialoguing with your inner selves is experiencing them as real unto themselves. They’re not just ideas. They are your personalized expressions of archetypal ways of being. They are as much a part of your psychological reality as your arm is part of your body. You might say that these selves are aspects of (your) Psyche/Soul that are expressing in fixed archetypal patterns. Through the facilitation, you come to recognize that these various different parts have their own gestural language and unique ways of perceiving through the senses and feelings in your body.
One part of you may have stomach tension while another part of you doesn’t. One part of you can feel physically very small, another part of you feels immense and in command of the whole room. As you move over to express the part of you who feels ‘in charge’, you may find this part of you naturally wanting to stand and put your hands on your hips. As you move back over to the part of you who is happier staying in the background, you may find this self sitting on the floor, preferring an inward gaze.
This kind of facilitation eventually initiates a gradual shift in the very way you experience yourself. You begin to learn how to recognize when you are operating from a particular inner self. In the experience of the dialoguing process - beliefs, memories, feelings, gestures, body awareness - all these coalesce to help you identify the nature of that particular archetypal aspect of your being.
“Each sub-personality is a distinct energy pattern - each has a distinct facial expression, posture, and tone of voice, and each creates a different set of energetic vibrations in its surroundings." - Drs Hal and Sidra Stone, Embracing Ourselves.
The Voice Dialogue facilitation ends with the facilitator helping the subject to anchor the non-judgmental awareness state in connection with the now (temporarily) unattached ego's capacity to feel and make choices based on the new awareness. This is a state, and it will evaporate. However, what will grow is the ego's recognition of this non-judgmental awareness of other aspects of self and the ego will more and more be able to spontaneously re-engage the Aware Ego Process.
In this way, Voice Dialogue is akin to a two-person, facilitated meditation practice, with one person facilitating non-judgmental, detached awareness of selves and the capacity to engage from that the insights that awareness brought. You can't "Aware" your way through life, you must live it and the ego is that outer-directed aspect of Psyche that directly interfaces with life. Our task is to liberate ego from its rigid and fixed attachments to (or possessions by) various human potentials or archetypes and reorient it in relationship with Aware Psyche. The facilitator must also do his or her own Aware Ego work in order to actually be able to do Voice Dialogue facilitation.