Voice Dialogue: Healing Polarities

From Families to Politics

By M. Dorsey Cartwright, LPC, LMFT, CCMHC

Our country is more polarized today than at any time since the Civil War.

This polarization is fueled by self-righteousness – “My viewpoint is the only way. My side is RIGHT!”

Where do these judgments come from? Our psyches are not unitary but, instead, are made up of many selves. Our judgments come from the primary selves that govern our lives – selves that determine how we think, feel and behave without our awareness – selves that feel like who we really are.

Our Inner “Cast of Characters” Colors How We See the World

These primary selves help us succeed in the world in certain ways.

But selves that function without our awareness also make us vulnerable.

Judgments can put us in conflict with our selves, our clients, our world – determining what we like and don’t like, what we judge or don’t judge.

  • This dynamic of judgment runs rampant in our relationships. It fuels the pain of polarization between parent and child, between male and female.
  • Yet the damage is not limited to our personal lives. Judgment wreaks havoc in relationships between Christians and non-Christians, Democrats and Republicans, heterosexuals and homosexuals, whites and blacks, etc.

Learn to Use Judgements Creatively to Turn Debate into Dialogue

How can we resolve such deep-seated conflicts that have been with us for eons? The technique of Voice Dialogue offers a unique approach to bridging the judgment gap and creating genuine “détente.”

Through Voice Dialogue, we can actually talk to the Pusher, the Achiever and all the parts of our primary selves. We move beyond being totally identified with these selves. Using the very judgments that have defined and limited us:

Your Inner Selves Become Your Teachers for Transcending Polarities

To heal these polarities we must first get to know the amazing array of selves that live within us and discover how they interact with these same kinds of selves in other people.

With Voice Dialogue as your tool, make friends with your judgments, allowing them to lead you into a profound experience of your own wholeness and a deeper appreciation and acceptance of others – people you love, people you hate or people who simply live on the other side of the world.

Begin Your Inner Journey Today 

M. Dorsey Cartwright, LPC, LMFT, CCMHC

Author of Who’s Practicing Your Practice?

www.voicedialoguetrainings.com – 512-444-7733 – Mdcartw@aol.com
2005 M. Dorsey Cartwright – Thanks to Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone, www.voicedialogue.org.

Adapted by permission.

About Voice Dialogue

Voice Dialogue is a method for entering into direct communication with a person’s inner community or inner family.  The Psychology of Selves is Dr. Hal and Sidra Stone’s theoretical framework for the Voice Dialogue method.  It provides the model for how the selves develop and how they interact with one another in Relationships.  It also includes their definition of Consciousness that is composed of three dimensions - Awareness, the Experience of the Selves, and the Aware Ego.   Ultimately, the Stone’s consider Voice Dialogue to be an exquisite tool for the evolution of Human Consciousness.

What is the Psychology of Selves?

No one is a single entity; each of us is made of many selves.  These selves are the smallest units or building blocks of the psyche. Each self is like an actual person living inside of us. Each has their own history, their own way of looking at life, their own way of living in the world. How you will behave in a certain situation will depend upon the self or selves in charge at that moment.

The Development of the Selves

Most of us are familiar with the outer family into which we were born. We have parents and grandparents, brothers, sisters and cousins, aunts and uncles. We may also have close friends who function as family members and who, at times, are closer to us than our actual families. Learning about our families and how we fit into them is a very important part of the growing-up process.

What is fascinating to consider, and what is a new idea for most people, is that we have an inner family as well as an outer one. This inner family is influenced, first of all, by those closest to us. It consists, at first, of selves that resemble the personality patterns of our family members, friends and teachers, or anyone who has had any kind of influence over us, or conversely, it consists of the personality characteristics (or selves) that represent the exact opposite patterns.

Learning about this inner family is a very important part of personal growth and absolutely necessary for the understanding of our relationships, since the members of this inner family, or "selves," as we like to call them, are often in control of our behavior. If we do not understand the pressures they exert, then we are really not in charge of our lives. -  Hal and Sidra Stone

What is Voice Dialogue?

The Voice Dialogue Method is a technique that gives instant access to these selves, enabling the therapist or coach to explore each self individually. The Facilitator, (therapist or coach), asks to speak to a certain self, e.g., “Let me talk to the part of you that doesn’t want you to rock the boat.”  The client then physically moves to a different place. This simple act of physically moving allows the self to separate from the whole person (the ego) and be experienced and dialogued with in its pure form. Rather than spending session after session talking about thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, the facilitator can go straight to the source.


  1. As the facilitator unearths the basic qualities of each self, its history, and its impact upon an individual's life and relationships - the client’s daily awareness of these selves (those voices inside our heads!) increases.  They learn how to make conscious deliberate use of their selves rather than having them live or control their lives.

  2. This method trains the client’s ego to respectfully tune into the various selves and make the best decision for the whole person. The ego becomes the well functioning CEO of the personality, no longer victimized by the power struggle of the selves. We call this the Aware Ego process, meaning the development of an ego that can truly hold, in fact, dance with the tensions of the opposites.

  3. This training increases the facilitator’s sensitivity to the energy of their own selves. They become less vulnerable to having selves triggered by certain client take over and hijack the session. 

The Stones do not view Voice Dialogue as a therapy, or theoretical system though when used by a therapist it becomes therapy.  Rather they see it as a tool that is compatible with almost all theoretical systems and adds something extra to any group of therapists or coaches who include it in their work.

Our experience is that direct interaction not only speeds up the therapeutic process, it enlivens it for both client and facilitator. The energetic shifts that are experienced from self to self are amazing and impactful to most people.   We never cease to be in awe of the magical quality of this is a most fascinating phenomenon!

Relationship Bonding Patterns “ Even the most ideal relationships have moments in which intimacy is interrupted and good will is in short supply. As we studied the rhythms of relationship and these periods of discomfort, we discovered certain predictable patterns in all of them. We see these patterns as the dance of the selves in relationship, a dance in which the selves, rather than the people, interact”. Hal & Sidra Stone

The Stones’ call these interactions “bonding patterns” because they are automatic, archetypal parent/child interactions, like the bonding that takes place between a parent and an infant. They are apparent in all relationships.