Way back in the early 198Os we (Alkmini, Sasha and I) were introduced to the work of Drs.Hal and Sidra Stone while visiting Los Angeles, where I was involved in teaching courses at both Cleveland College of Chiropractic, and the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic.
Our dear friend Carol Port (now Rosenstein) – then practicing as a chiropractor in that city – had been involved with the work of the Stone’s for some years, and she thought we’d enjoy exposure to this novel Jungian psychotherapy approach – Voice Dialogue – (she was right!)
So, one afternoon Carol took us along to Hal and Sidra’s home, where we joined a large gathering (around 40 people as I recall) sat under huge trees in their back garden to witness a demonstration of Voice Dialogue – while Sasha (then around 5 or 6) – absorbed herself with an amazing raised sandpit, full of tiny models of dragons, fairies etc etc
Before I describe, briefly, the revelations that emerged from that afternoon in the garden, I am fast-forwarding to this week, and the new Pixar animated movie “Inside Out” …. which has received rave reviews.….for the very simple reason that it seems to based on Voice Dialogue concepts.
As one review in Variety raved: “Inside Out is the “greatest idea the toon studio has ever had: a stunningly original concept that will not only delight and entertain the company’s massive worldwide audience, but also promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think, delivering creative fireworks grounded by a wonderfully relatable family story”.
I will describe Voice Dialogue as it was introduced to us and as I have come to understand it over the years through the writings of, and discussions with, Hal and Sidra – and others who use this therapeutic tool …… and will intersperse these descriptions with quotes from a review of ‘Inside Out” from yesterdays London Daily Telegraph.
Hal and Sidra Stone describe the essence of the method:
“Voice Dialogue is the specific method we developed to explore the world of the Selves – also known as sub-personalities. This method requires two people: a facilitator and the subject being facilitated. The job of the facilitator is to help the subject become aware of, and to experience, the various Selves that run our lives and to learn how to use them in a conscious way through the development of an Aware Ego Process.”
We are all inhabited by multiple facets, sub-personalities, ‘voices’ …some dominate, while others are repressed, and out of this emerges our personality and our behaviour. The message that Voice Dialogue urges, and helps to achieve, is that we learn to accept, embrace, integrate – all our-selves.
There are no judgements in Voice Dialogue, merely a process of learning to listen to, and to understand those aspects of our inner world that have either become too dominant, or too repressed. Listening to these ‘voices’ allows integration – nothing is forced, and no advice is given….it’s all about awareness and organic change.
That process requires firstly a recognition that each voice, characteristic, sub-personality, has the potential to be integrated into a rounded personality…..or as Pixar depict it (based on the Telegraph review):
“Inside Out’s central concept – that we’re all controlled by voices in our head – is an inspired one, and the division of labour by emotion rather than, say, by sense, allows the film to explore [the lead character’s] increasingly troubled inner life with profound lucidity.”
….“This is a humane and heart-wrenchingly beautiful film….one of Pixar’s best.”
As the Sky News review explains: “The story partly takes place inside the head of 11-year-old Riley, where voices like Joy , Sadness and Anger compete for the girl’s emotions and memories in her psyche :”headquarters”.
This film is Voice Dialogue in action…..a wonderful movie, AND a wonderful clinical tool
To really get to know about Voice Dialogue get hold of one of Hal and Sidra’s books…the best for me was one of their first – “Embracing Our Selves”