Facilitators’ Working Guidesheet

Like to try a little basic classic voice dialogue. Beginner level 'Voice dialogue" is really easy. It only gets complicated as you develop a deeper understanding and IF you want to get into it in greater depth. The truth is that as long as you stick to some very easy do's and don'ts (listed below in this one page guidesheet) you can begin 'experimental' classic voice dialogue sessions without formal training. How come? Because the selves are very good protectors and if you look as though either of you are going to make any gross errors (or fail to stick to the basic guidelines)  the selves involved will stop the session. WARNING! You may end up in a disagreement if the wrong selves happen to get you into a bonding pattern afterwards,   since dialogue creates awareness, and it may be that the selves involved find this new awareness a bit of a worry. This does not mean "classic voice dialogue" went wrong. Give it a go!                                                                                   Hit Counter

Begin by reminding yourself that being a facilitator is something you ‘are’ with people not something you ‘do’ to them. Facilitating happens whether your aware adult talks with, links with, embraces, dances with or just sits quietly with another person’s inner selves.  These notes are a very condensed summary of the detailed advice - pages 10-2 to 10-20 in Growing Awareness. See these pages for full understanding.

In these notes, if you are the interviewer, you are the "facilitator"
If you and your selves are being interviewed, then you are the "client"


3.1 Do not aim for or expect any specific outcome or result at any time from the start to the end of the session. Keep your own needs off the agenda. If what you expected doesn’t happen, it usually turns out to be a far more valuable session for the client.

3.2 Do not order selves around. Rather than ‘Move over to that chair!’ invite selves to do things. Ask ‘Would you like to choose a chair (or a spot in the room) anywhere you would feel really comfortable while you are talking?’

3.3 Don’t ask a self a direct ‘why’unless you intentionally want to talk to the analytical mind self.

3.4 Don’t get involved in making judgements with any one self about other selves. Don’t debate with a self or get involved if one criticises you as facilitator. Acknowledge its point of view, let it go at that.

3.5 If one of your selves begins ‘talking with’ one of the client’s selves (whether it’s a nice chat or a full-on argument) that just means you have stopped ‘facilitating’. Finish the talk, have a break, then decide if you need to start again.

3.6 Do not ever try to use classic voice dialogue as a treatment or therapy for diagnosable conditions. It’s OK to talk to the pain or body part as long as this is to create awareness not in an attempt to provide a treatment or a cure.


1.1 Agree on which chair is the middle chair and remind client it’s OK to return to it at any time, without asking you, if they want or need to stop the dialogue. (That's why I call this the "safe" chair)

1.2 Remind client that when operating ‘in a self’ or away from the safe chair, they should try not to use ‘I’, ‘me’ or ‘my’ when discussing the person in the safe chair. Instead they refer to themselves as a third party as for example ‘He’ ‘She’ or ‘Tony’.

1.3 Explain this means the self being interviewed (the one in any other chair) should say ‘I’ or ‘we’ when talking about what it does, as in ‘I have to work hard to protect Tony when he feels vulnerable.’

1.4 Begin with casual conversation about what is happening in the client’s life at the moment. You might enquire casually whether the client notices:

* any particularly strong thoughts or energy in some place in their body?
* are feeling drawn to one chair or to the left or right?
* are under pressure in regard to any significant life issues?

With more experienced clients you might ask directly about what issue or topic he/she would like to work with or what self is wanting to talk. Sometimes you might lead a little with ‘ I think it might be interesting to talk to the part of you that you are describing which is doing .... x .....’

1.5 Watch for the ‘self shift’ a change in tone of voice, body language or facial expression. This tells you that an inner self is present in the middle chair but is ready to move to another position to be interviewed.

1.6 Suggest or invite that self to choose a chair or place it would like to be. Don’t instruct or tell.


After the client has moved into a different chair, first enquire tentatively to find out what self is actually talking. ‘Can you help me by describing what you do to help protect Tony? Can you explain to me a bit about how you help .......?’ Don’t be surprised if the self you are talking to is not anything like or the opposite to the one you had expected to be dialoguing with.

2.1 Unless it is a shy self, it’s good to ask lots of questions about the things it does. But avoid asking a self to justify or make sense of its actions. Ask for help, instead, ‘I wonder if you could help me understand ....’ or ‘Could you tell me a bit more about ..‘

If the self appears, shy, fearful, unsure or just very young, be very careful asking any questions at all. The best idea here is to sit quietly, perhaps adding occasional words of comfort - ‘It’s all right.’ You’re safe here.’ ‘I understand how you feel.’ Facilitating in total silence is not only good, it is often the most powerful of all.

2.2 Offer validation, support and affirmation of the work the self tells you it is doing or has done.

2.3 Be positive, show empathy and support for the self you are talking to. It’s OK to be ‘in their corner’ while working with each self, yet change your support when working with its opposite.

2.4 Invite the self you are working with to help you at any time. If in doubt about what to do or what you are hearing, acknowledge the wisdom and experience of the self, ahead of your own. Allow the client’s selves to take charge if they want to. If you need guidance or have an intuitive feeling about something suggest, ‘I could be wrong but I have a feeling that you .... Can you help me.’

2.5 Don’t try to resolve a self’s problems nor the client’s. Do not offer helpful advice, at least not until the session is over.

2.6 Fit your mood to that of the self you are working with. If it’s bright be bright too. If it’s analytical join in. If it’s rebellious share the spirit. If it’s quiet and shy, act that way yourself.

2.7 If a new self ‘comes in’ of its own accord, don’t worry, quietly acknowledge to it your awareness that it has replaced the last one, make it feel welcome and keep on facilitating.

2.8 Work with a self as you would work with a smart or clever child and allow your intuition to help you in the same way.

2.9 If you feel you have finished facilitating a self, enquire ‘Is there anything I have missed or anything else you want to say?’

2.10 To get back the client back to the central or ‘safe’chair, say a few words of thanks and motion with your hands towards that chair. If necessary suggest ‘I think I need to talk to Tony now. Is that OK.’ If the self does not agree, keep on talking to it, because it will have something important to say.


4.1. After dialoguing with two or more opposite selves return client to the middle chair. Remind them "each self is part of you, but neither one is all of you."

4.2 Check to see if client now has enough awareness as they sit in the middle chair to see him/herself as separate from both sides. (If client is not ready for this postpone until a later session)

4.3 Show client how to balance opposite energies from aware adult position. Repeat several times.


5.1. Make sure client is back in the safe chair before ending the session.

5.2 Facilitator first, then client, both summarise what they saw, heard and felt taking place.

5.3 Integrate! Ask client to draw all selves back from wherever they were in the room and ‘integrate them’ (back inside again) before leaving middle chair.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED AND UNIQUE                                           

n Expect nothing to happen the way you think it will.

n Pay more attention to the non-verbal signals than what a self is saying. Often the self you are talking to is not the self it says it is and what it is describing may not be exactly what is happening. Don't put too much emphasis on words the self uses.

n Many selves are not at all certain about things. Share their uncertainty. Dialogue is what allows you, the client and that self to discover what is really going on. Dialogue = understanding = growing awareness.

n Being too sure which self is going to talk before it is present discourages that self from appearing.

n Expect each self you meet to be unique. Self ‘x’ in this client will not be the ‘same as’ self ‘x’ in another person. The more you facilitate its special uniqueness the better the session.

n Expect each inner self to be a specialist - all selves are ‘protectors’ but there are no all-rounders or combinations Try to recognise each one as a unique individual. Take care with any self that tells you ‘I am the same self as ..... Similarities between self ‘a’ and self ‘b’ in the same person do not mean it is the same self.


If Tony were to feel you somewhere in his body, where would that be?

Just sitting there, as we talk, what age do you feel you are?

‘If Tony wanted to talk to me about you, what name could he use for you.’ (Inviting the self to tell you how it would like to be named.)

Imagine you can do something very energetic or physical right now and that it is quite OK to act in that particular way. What do you feel like doing? (suggest doing it now unless violent)

If you weren’t here for a while or you lost your ability to look after Tony, what might happen to him? (identifying underlying vulnerability)

Would you like to offer Tony a few words of helpful advice? If ‘yes’ encourage the self to talk to the (empty) safe chair right now, ‘Tony is sitting there in the middle and would appreciate your advice

Copyright John Nutting 1996 - - 2004  and      GROWING AWARENESS   All rights reserved World Wide   LAST UPDATE  Thursday, 07 February 2008 20:28

Don't worry about these copyright notices at the foot of each page. It just means I want to hang on to legal ownership of what I write for use in future books.  Until that day, please feel free to copy and even adapt them for your own use and for friends as long as you acknowledge me as the author and owner of the copyright and you don't charge anyone for them. If you want to use them professionally or commercially (charge a fee for them) or for clients, each sheet you hand out must include full acknowledgment of copyright ownership as above and if  you are benefiting as a result, I would appreciate an appropriate sharing.


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