Giving Voice to The Inner Parts
Emotionally, we are made up of many different feelings, patterns and habits, which can be looked at as separate aspects of our personality. They can be called sub-personalities or personas, or just patterns. Each of these inner voices has an important message for the whole being, and a role to play.
We can see this reflected in our physical body, where there are many different cells, which each have a small separate life force, which cooperate and group into larger organs, each of which has a separate function and life force. The key to health is to have each of these separate parts cooperating with all the others for a common good. Cancer cells are an example of a cell that has forgotten its connection to the whole, and it multiplies wildly, with no awareness of the health of the host organism, ultimately destroying it unless stopped. Chronic disease is a physical expression of a disconnected inner shadow self.
Often we are trained to ignore or discount some of our inner voices or feelings, because they are not socially acceptable in some way. We come to feel bad and guilty about having certain feelings and thoughts, and we hide them even from ourselves, so the parts of us that hold those feelings effectively become cut off from communication with the whole.
Sometimes a very hurtful event happens that we do not have the strength to face at that time, so it gets stored or buried in a hidden sub-personality. These lost parts of ourselves are areas that we avoid because they feel so uncomfortable to remember, but they are the areas that need healing and attention the most. They hold important lessons and strengths.
Seeking them out in counseling sessions and inviting them to come forward into the conscious mind lets us get to know them and therefore integrate them back into ourselves. This also robs them of any power they may have to surprise us and pop up unexpectedly, at awkward moments. Being able to act our various inner voices gives us flexibility and freedom in our definition of who we are. If we are limited to only a few very narrow personality traits, we can become rigid and dogmatic, with very strong beliefs about what is the right and wrong way to be.
Many therapies have integrated these ideas, including RC, voice dialogue work, Process work and inner child work. Theater requires people to discover and identify with many inner personas, so actors may find this easy. Here are some suggestions for beginning to work in this way.

Three Selves: Adult, Child and Higher Self
In many indigenous traditions, three primary inner selves are worked with. The adult self is our conscious waking self, the ego definition we usually identify with. If someone asks you "Who are you?" you will answer with the voice of the adult self.
This is the self who thinks rationally and logically, who keeps life going by working and tending to what needs to be done. The adult is the parent and caregiver, and usually dominates a person's awareness. It keeps things under control, and does what is needed to protect itself. It is also the barrier that keeps us feeling separate from other life forms. The stronger the adult ego is, the more there is a sense of separate selfhood. Ideally we want a strong yet flexible adult, with healthy boundaries but able to relax when needed. The adult self is a good servant, but not a good master, in terms of guiding a life.
The Higher Self or Deeper Self is the aspect of the soul that is spiritual and in touch with energies beyond the physical limitations of matter. It is the self that gives us guidance, creative inspiration, and a sense of our deep connectedness with all that is. We tune in to the deeper self when we meditation or go into trance states. It is the source of love and energy and power.
The Child Self or Younger Self is the emotional, gut level, intuitive, animal self. Younger Self holds the ancient knowledge of how to be a healthy animal in a body, how to play, how to feel, how to have pleasure, and how to let emotions flow through. This self is wild and free, and follows what feels good. It has been greatly suppressed through our Western culture, because people who are really free and fully feeling are very hard to control.
Younger Self is the gateway to the Divine, and many traditions say that a person cannot know Spirit directly without going through the inner magical child. This is what Jesus was saying when he said: "Those who seek the kingdom of Heaven must come as a little child". The inner child is the key to our happiness and joy in life. Spending time freeing and healing our inner children is a powerful way to finding inner peace.
The goal for this therapy is to encourage all the parts to become friends, to love each other and accept each part's existence. A typical process would be a hurt inner child persona being loved and accepted by the parental adult persona. Or the adult might be guided by the child.
Letting these voices speak is an altered state of consciousness, a little like being in a dream state.

Identify the Inner Self and Get Permission
In this therapy we work with the inner child. You can also use this process for any inner persona. Begin by identifying an inner child of a certain age. Always talk directly to the inner part as though it was a separate person. This is a very effective aspect of the technique. Think of talking "past" the conscious self, ignoring it for a moment.
Always be respectful of all the parts you are speaking with, including those acting as oppressors. If the voices are full of hateful or shameful or weak feelings, it is because they have been hurt and discounted. Remember that each part is important and needs to be fully honest and listened to with respect. Every part is trying to meet to real need inside the whole.
Ask if the dominant conscious ego personality, (who the person usually is identified with being) will allow you to talk to the inner child self. This is important because the conscious self often will interrupt with critical thoughts or act as interpreter for the sub-personality. Remember, the reason this persona needs help to talk is that the conscious self is uncomfortable with its feelings and opinions.
It is important to get the conscious self to be quiet for a while and allow the lost parts to come forward. This takes courage and trust. But this process itself helps the conscious self to see that the "bad" feelings are only a small part of the whole self, and that makes it safer for people to explore them. Say things like "Can you let this other part take over for a while, so we can find out what it is?"
Ask the inner persona that you are trying to reach if it will speak with you. This is important, as sometimes the inner self is very shy and scared, or hostile and rebellious. If it won't, perhaps another inner self will speak, or it will use movement or non-verbal sounds. Usually they are glad to be getting any attention. To access and very young self, who is preverbal, you will need to act like a child does, such as making infant sounds and movements.

Talking to the Persona/Inner Child
In general, you want to give the inner child a chance to tell its own opinion and feelings. Address it by its name. "Hello, little __________, I would like to find out about who you are." Ask it things like "tell me how you feel" and "what is it you want most?" Encourage it to release emotions and express itself. Give lots of appreciation ("you are perfect just as you are") and validations ("of course you feel that way"), to show that you understand its point of view. Reassure it that this is a safe time to talk, and that you are really interested in what it has to say, if it needs those counteractions. In short, counsel it as you would anyone.
Encourage the person to talk directly from that part, such as "I am really jealous" and not "this part is really jealous." This will make it much more real and immediate.

Practice: Speak With the Inner Child
Either with a partner or in writing by yourself, go inside and invite an inner child to speak with you. Let the child self use your voice, and do not censor what comes out, even if it makes no sense. Thank and appreciate the child afterward.

Finishing the Dialogue
Ask if this voice has any final things to say to the conscious self. When it seems time to stop, thank that inner part for sharing, and move back to the original position, and encourage the person to come back fully to their normal conscious self.

What Happens to Young People
In exploring our own inner child, it is helpful to think about how children are treated. What are children naturally like? Think for a minute about what children are like before they are programmed and trained by the parents and society.
Young people are in a position of dependence and lack of experience, and so are especially vulnerable to being hurt by the distresses of the adults around them. But unless they are made to feel powerless, they are not. They have powerful voices and strong ideas about what they need and want, from the time they are born. They are very intelligent, and can figure things out well, given the time and information and support they need.

Our culture tends to view children as needing to be molded, disciplined and taught how to do things right. This is distress stemming from when the adult's own process of learning was interfered with as a child. People have a deep inherent longing to learn about the world, and will do so eagerly, in their own way, in their own time, if allowed to. Young people often see things more clearly than adults, since they do not usually have as many layers of distress over their thinking. They will often point out clearly any irrational distress patterns in the adults around them. They often are more in touch with their inner spirituality, psychic awareness and communication with animals, plants and energy beings. They are often more openly loving, joyous and playful than adults. In truth, children are important spiritual teachers, each with special gifts for the adults around them.
The oppression of young people is systematically enforced by our society, economics, and traditions in the culture. Teachers and childcare workers are underpaid and disrespected. The message of young people's oppression is "the younger you are, the less important you are." It is one of disrespect and lack of importance, wherein the young person is not listened to or consulted about decisions relating to their lives. They are patronized and talked down to as cute but unimportant people.
Everyone grows up looking forward to a later time when they will be older and hopefully be treated with more respect. This oppression is the only one that you can expect to grow out of. It is the only one where you will someday change roles and be the adult who gets to make the decisions and have respect. Others, like sexism and racism, will be present your entire life.
This oppression is also the basis of all others, since the messages of worthlessness, insignificance, helplessness, and abandonment get internalized, and leave the person very vulnerable to later distress imprints from sexism, racism, religious oppression, etc.

Practice: Childhood Memories
Can you think of things you were told by adults as a young person, or ways you were treated, that were disrespectful and oppressive? How were you treated by older children? Have a short counseling session on this, or write it down.

Practice: Meeting the Younger Self
Begin with a basic guided relaxation, with deep breathing, for at least 5 minutes. Have someone read the Guided Regression To The Inner Child in Chapter 12 to you slowly, or record it so you listen as you do the regression

Emotional Release on Physical Hurts
In working with early infant memories and imprints, another thing that often arises is being hurt physically. This might have happened from another person hurting us, or just from the normal process of growing up. Often the birth process is physically uncomfortable. Chronic tension in the body is always related to emotions.
Emotional release about a physical hurt seems to greatly improve the healing process. Most people have strong emotions about being hurt physically, and putting aware attention directly on the emotions releases a lot of tension. People who have used this process often experience faster physical healing of an acute injury, and relief from long term symptoms. Releasing the emotions around a hurt seems to free up the body's natural healing powers and increase immune system functioning.
The basic technique for working on physical hurts is to tell the story of what happened, repeatedly and in detail, and allow space for the emotions to come to the surface. Many people naturally want to tell the story anyway. The counselor needs to be attentive and interested and encouraging.
In Heartbeat Nurturing Therapy, the story may not come out until after the emotions are experienced in the actual session, when the client has come back to their verbal adult persona. The counselor and even the client may not know what is going on until afterward, and that is fine.
Typical physical traumas that may arise are anesthesia or circumcision. Anesthesia leaves an imprint in the psyche of numbness, helplessness and being disassociated. If you suddenly find yourself falling asleep in a session, or having a heavy, dead, lazy sensation, these could be impressions from early actual experiences arise to be healed. Do your best to stay present with them, and to describe them to your counselor. Talk about how numb and dead you feel, and let yourself stretch and yawn.
Circumcision memories may bring feelings of abandonment, mistrust, terror and tension. If you can access these feelings and let yourself be held while you feel them, this is ideal and will have deep healing effects. Let yourself scream and shake and push with your arms and legs, while you are held. If a counselor can be present with you through this, the energy released will make profound changes in your energy level and ease in your body.

Working with Old Physical Hurts
For an old hurt, one that has already healed physically, always counsel on the emotional hurts around the event. This might be an operation, or a car accident, circumcision, birth trauma, or some other event that you know was traumatic and you want to clear up. The physical hurt will naturally discharge once the emotions are dealt with.
Focusing too much on the details of the physical aspects could bring the hurt back, to be re-experienced on the physical level, if it is worked on directly (by describing how much it hurt, in exactly what way, etc.). People have reported old bruises and other symptoms re-appearing after counseling on a hurt. It is not always necessary to re-experience the physical pain on this level in order to release it. So focus on how it felt emotionally, when telling the story.
Sometimes strong pains emerge in sessions, because the body memory is releasing stored energy from the cells. If you do find a physical pain emerging during the session, just be interested in it and focus on what message it is bringing. Resisting it will increase the pain. Welcome it as a messenger, and get curious. Why should your head suddenly start to hurt at that moment? Often even intense pains will disappear immediately after the session is over.
Catharsis may come as physical (yawning, trembling) or emotional (tears, laughter, etc). This process will help pain and shock, and will make it heal faster. Many people have reported incredibly fast healing using this direction.
Making non-word sounds seems especially effective, (try yelling "OW!") and encouraging stretching, shaking and movement of any kind.

Resting Deeply
Resting is a great direction to use in your sessions, and is a natural part of Heartbeat Therapy, where you are cradled in someone's arms. Let yourself completely relax, with nothing to do, nothing to say. It helps to have the client lay down and close their eyes. The counselor can assure the client that they don't need the client to do anything to entertain them, they can just let go, etc.
Concentrate as a counselor on totally appreciating and loving the person while they do nothing. Calmly give loving messages, which the client is not required to repeat aloud, but they often need to hear. Keep speaking every few minutes, in a low voice, saying things like "It is safe to relax. You don't have to do anything to take care of me. Set everything aside for just a few minutes. Let the world go on without you."
This counteracts some very basic chronic feelings for many people, such as the feeling that it is not OK to just be, and that you have to do something to be accepted. This is an especially effective direction for many men, whose engrained performance patterns may often interfere with discharge in sessions.
At first the client may have many feelings come up as they attempt to totally relax, and as always, encourage any catharsis. A good direction for many people is to have the counselor stand guard against the imagined threats of the patterns, ex: "I will keep watch now, so you can rest. I won't let anyone come near. I will take over all your responsibilities."

After a while, the client will be able to relax well enough to go to sleep during a session, and this is a very healing experience for many people, to sleep with attention. As a counselor, keep your attention on the client while they sleep. Think about what a precious and special person they are. You can keep giving them loving messages if you like, as these are absorbed very well by the subconscious while someone is sleeping. Admire them. And wake them slowly up when it is time for the session to be over.

Practice: Deep Resting
In pairs, have one person lay down and just completely rest for a while. Reassure them that you will stand guard, and there is nothing for them to do. If they have resistance or fears arise, encourage them to let you know. Then trade.

Author's Bio: 

Amara has been studying alternative healing since 1978, having studied Swedish, Esalen and deep bodywork, Chinese healing, herbology, and Macrobiotics. She was trained in psychic reading, healing and meditation for two years at the Berkeley Psychic Institute, and has taught numerous classes in the same since then. She created, edited and published Heartsong Review, a resource guide for New Age spiritual music, for nine years.
Amara taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, a method of peer counseling, for over five years, and has been studying and practicing it since 1983. She developed her own approach to peer counseling, called Wholistic Peer Support, integrating many ideas from RC with spiritual meditation practices, psychic healing and body centered techniques. She began studying Tantra and Sacred Spot work, a method of sexual healing, on Maui in 2003. She has been teaching Sacred Spot work for men and women, and leading one night Tantra Pujas, on the Big Island and Maui.
She is a minister, Sheikha (teacher) and initiator on the Sufi path, and has been studying that path, which encourages honoring of all religions, since 1983. She served as Secretary, and then Chairperson, on the Core of the International Council for the Dances of Universal Peace. She has created and staffed many weekend Dance workshops. She also has led and participated in many Goddess song circles, camps and Neo-pagan rituals since 1980, being attracted to the honoring of Nature, women and the natural cycles, and continues to offer these at La'akea.
She has been an graphic artist and scrimshander since 1980, and has illustrated several books and magazines. She currently is producing reproductions of her art as banners and prayer flags, which can be seen at Recently she has become passionate about creating and recording music, and has published several CD's of original music.