Interview with John Eilertsen, MS LMHC, about the benefits of Voice Dialogue Training


 "The unique part for me is the mind/body connection."


VDI: What over time what has been the greatest contribution Voice Dialogue has made to your practice as a counselor?"


JE: Voice Dialogue has made me very attuned to shifts in people so that even from the first session in assessing a new client's needs, Voice Dialogue gives me a lens through which to understand the dynamics of their situation and an organic language to talk about it with them.


This is especially true in my work with couples. Listening to them as they are describing the landscape of their relationship, I can see the patterns unfolding and the parts of them that are involved in their conflicts with each other. I'm able to talk about what is going on in their relationship without pathologizing, without making either of them bad or good, and this arouses their curiosity rather than their defensiveness. For example, it's easy to see a dynamic unfolding when the husband, already out of work mode, comes home and wants to connect with his wife, while she is totally focused on tasks like getting dinner ready, and now there's a conflict.


VDI: How is this different from your work with clients before you started using Voice Dialogue?


JE: Before I had this tool, I didn't always have the eyes to see or the ears to hear it... and also the body to feel it. Now I have so many ways to catch what is going on. If we are the instruments, this process hones us. It's my connection to my own body when I'm working that keeps me informed.


I don't use Voice Dialogue exclusively with all my clients. I bring in other work, but the awareness I have cultivated through this training is always informing me of what exactly I am doing when I'm working with people. I bring this process to all the work I do even when I'm not doing an actual Voice Dialogue facilitation.


This work can open up so many possibilities. People really get insight into how they live their life and how to make profound shifts. I've even seen an autistic adult connecting to a relational part of themselves they had no idea even existed. It can open up so many possibilities you don't even imagine could be there.


VDI: What kinds of changes have you seen in your personal life as a result of doing your own Voice Dialogue work?


JE: I could tell you so many stories. It's usually something simple, but it changes the quality of my life and my relationships. For example, hanging out with my wife, I feel when she's really energetically present with me and when she's not. I have a language now to say, "Where did you go? It feels like you're not here anymore." And she'll reply, "Sorry, I went off in my head worrying about something." And we'll both come back to connection with each other the present moment.


VDI: What would you want to tell others about working with Voice Dialogue?


JE: This is a kind of work that has a lot of breadth and depth. Some therapies are very narrow in that they train you to use a very specific skill set. Voice Dialogue integrates so many different facets. The originators of Voice Dialogue, Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone, had very eclectic backgrounds, and that really carries through in the work. You don't get that in very many psychological theories.


The unique part for me is the mind/body connection. There's not nearly enough of that in other kinds of work. There are modalities that have way more body than mind or much more mind than body. Voice Dialogue has both in balance. And you're not left with trying to create that integration and balance on your own. With Voice Dialogue that's already there, there are exercises and processes already in place to help you with that.


Voice Dialogue frees your mind - it's not just a mind therapy. A lot of theoretical orientations are much more mind focused and tend to disconnect us from our bodies. Because of this training I can easily hold both. Bottom line - it works.


VDI: Overall, what has been the most exciting part of using Voice Dialogue for you? 


(Continuing from Newsletter)


VDI: Overall, what has been the most exciting part of using Voice Dialogue for you? 


JE: My greatest interest and passion is developing the Aware Ego process of knowing the different parts of who I am and developing a capacity to navigate reality in a way that is contextually appropriate instead of blindly reactive. A wonderful example of this happened a while back when I took my son and his new bicycle over to the school track so I could run laps and he could ride his bike around the parking lot. I warned him to keep an eye out for teen drivers who might not see him, and I was also keeping an eye out for any trouble.


Sure enough, a while later I could feel trouble from the track - some older boys heading toward my son and starting to make fun of him. There were all these inner selves that popped up, all these options, and I could feel each of them saying, “pick me! pick me!” I could have gone with old patterns of reaction, confrontation, overprotection. But instead of getting pulled in any one of those directions, I opted for a new energetic approach that was totally effective. As I neared the parking lot, I just called out, “Hey, son. I’m gonna run a few more laps.” The older kids got the message that “papa bear” is here and watching, and they cleared out quickly, no confrontation needed. The old me wouldn’t have known how simple and easy it could be to do that.


VDI: Lastly, what would you want to tell others about the Facilitator Training?


JE: For me the draw is very experiential. It’s one of those theories you use on yourself if you are interested in growth and self development. It’s perfect for both therapists and clients who are wanting to grow in that way, and it’s truly endless what you get to learn about yourself, about others, about the dynamics of relationships. And, there is also the whole energetics piece. It’s really fun and its very creative.

I also love the continued peer practice. I’ve continued that for years now, and it’s been a great support. I haven’t found that kind of ongoing practice with other work.