Voice Dialogue - the Psychology of Selves

“In every corner of my soul there is an altar to a different god”
― Fernando Pessoa


The Psychosynthesis therapist Pierro Ferucci once said, “Each of us is a crowd!” Voice Dialogue is based on the idea that a person is made up of a large number of sub-personalities, different aspects of the psyche, each with a different voice and differing needs. A very simple example – someone could have a persona of being a very jolly, easy-going sort of person when they are with friends but they might be much more stern and serious when they are at work. In a Voice Dialogue session, the facilitator will help a person to separate out the different sub-personalities and make space to listen to them one at a time as if they were a group of distinct individuals – hearing each one’s world view and getting to understand their nature, their needs and their position in the psyche.


Voice Dialogue was developed in the 1970s by two psychotherapists, Drs Hal and Sidra Stone. The Stones began to explore the way that sub-personalities function and together they developed Voice Dialogue, also known as the ‘Psychology of the Selves’, by learning to dialogue with each other’s sub-personalities. The Stones came to realise that people tend to have a small number of favourite Selves that are automatically, habitually in use – the person’s dominant mode of expression. This collection of dominant Selves are referred to as the Primary Selves. The Primary Selves will usually be sub-personalities whose aim is to make the person more secure – often Controllers or Pushers or Pleasers.

In a session, when a Primary Self has been given enough space to feel fully heard, what often occurs is that another, very different Self emerges, one that has been rejected or suppressed or obscured by the Primary Self. These ‘disowned’ energies are usually much more vulnerable and/or less socially acceptable. The discovery and exploration of the disowned vulnerable Selves can be quite challenging because these are the aspects of our personality that we have learned to think of as dangerous and unwelcome. However, getting to know the disowned Selves often feels like an astonishing revelation, sometimes quite miraculous, as a disowned Self often holds the key to deeply entrenched issues. I have heard mature, seasoned therapists exclaim in wonder at the revelation of the needs and beliefs of a disowned Self, beliefs of which they had been previously unaware.

The aim of Voice Dialogue is to get to know the Selves and to separate from them, so that no single Self is running the show. If I am living my life dominated by a Pusher who wants me to do nothing but work, when I am separated from that Voice then I can start to hear from a more playful, childlike Self who wants to go to the beach or from a Self who wants to have much more quiet time for meditation. When we dis-identify from the Selves, we are liberated to make choices we would not otherwise be able to consider.


Virgo 3

Gaining an understanding of all the Selves and becoming increasingly free in making choices is one of the great benefits of Voice Dialogue. And beyond that is something that, to me, is even more important and valuable. When we are unconscious of the Selves and the agendas they are running, we are coming from a place we refer to as the Operating Ego. The Operating Ego simply responds to input from the Primary Selves and has very little understanding of the needs of the disowned Selves. When we get to know a Self, we are becoming more aware i.e. becoming aware of the nature and the needs and demands of that specific Voice or Self. In Voice Dialogue we call this building an Aware Ego. When we are coming from the Aware Ego we are able to consider the needs of all the different Selves; we are not dominated or controlled by any particular Voice. When we enter the place of the Aware Ego we experience a sense of freedom and spaciousness that is not present when we are coming from the Operating Ego. The more we become aware of the demands of all our different Selves the more we are building an Aware Ego and the more spaciousness we experience.


In the process of building the Aware Ego, we develop the capacity to enter into a place of pure Awareness. Here there is no agenda, there are no preferences, no choices, only a vast spacious presence and the ability to compassionately be with whatever is arising. This is a very beautiful, sacred space. It is the Aware Ego that is the interface between pure Awareness and our raw, reactive, emotionally charged everyday experience.

Voice Dialogue is not a form of therapy (though the understanding of the Psychology of the Selves can be a very useful tool for a psychotherapist or counsellor to use alongside their normal practice). For anyone who is ready, Voice Dialogue is a tool for expanding consciousness. As we learn to live from the Aware Ego, we gain more and more access to Awareness so that we become, as Hal Stone calls it – an Energy Dancing moving effortlessly from one Self or one Energy to another. More than any other verbal process I have met, Voice Dialogue leads to freedom, spaciousness and Awakening to the Divine, within us and all around us.


Sessions last for 1 - 1 ½ hours and cost £45 per hour plus room hire, Skype sessions cost £40 per hour, and I will always negotiate a sliding scale for people on low income.