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Our methods

The Dialogical Self Theory is at the heart of a number of methods that have been developed to stimulate and research self-reflection and internal dialogue. The most prominent methods are described in the book “Assessing and stimulating a dialogical self in groups, teams, cultures and organizations", edited by Hubert Hermans and published by Springer in New York (2016).

Below a short description of the methods described in the book:

The NEGOTIONAL SELF METHOD was developed by Dina Nir (Israel) by having internal negotiations look for inner conflicts and solve these via intensive self-reflection. Inner conflicts are revealed by putting conflicting I-positions across from one another in a systematic way and studying their relationships. The method has proved useful in resolving conflicts and making decisions that broadly support what is taking place in the personal position-repertoire. The process is aimed at turning win-lose relationships between I-positions into win-win relationships so that inner stresses are reduced and more integration of the self becomes possible. See more information here.

A variation on the SELF CONFRONTATION METHOD designed to guide career learning processes is described by Harmien Visser (The Netherlands). This narrative method is aimed at ordering and further developing the personal meaning that someone ascribes to experiences from the past, present and future and that are relevant for the career-learning process. What is unique about this method is that it works on two levels: the manifest level where the personal story is told and the latent level where various foundational motives (self-affirmation and connection with something or someone) influence the ordering and development of the self-story. By shining light on the story from the perspective of foundational motives, a deeper level of reflection is achieved. For training purposes the classic work on Self-Narratives by Hubert Hermans and Els Hermans-Jansen is the most useful resource. For effectiveness and satisfaction with the SCM, please see this article (in Dutch).

EXPRESSIVE WRITING in the context of career development (more broadly known as “Career Writing”) is a method developed by Reinekke Lengelle (Canada) that stimulates the multi-voiced nature of the self to be heard and promotes self-exploration via creative, expressive, and reflective writing. The main idea is that we live in a complex world that is more multi-voiced than ever before. By stimulating this multi-voiced self through writing and paying attention to emotions, a person’s sense of self-direction if strengthened and blocks become visible. This method is a combination of a number of writing exercises and approaches and makes use of Dialogical Self Theory’s idea of a multi-voiced self that can talk to itself and develop new I-positions that shed insight and make a person more actionable. For more information, see here.

DIALOGICAL CULTURE COACHING is a method developed by Jutta König (The Netherlands) and is aimed at exploring personal positions and meanings via internal dialogues. Acculturation processes are facilitated by creating dialogical relationships between various cultural positions in which someone finds themselves (e.g. I am German; I am Iraqi: I am also Dutch). The dialogical connection between cultural I-positions works as ‘anti-venom’ against cultural fragmentation. Special attention is paid to ‘in-between-positions’ that find themselves in the psychological space between differing cultural positions. In addition, the client is invited to develop a so-called meta-position – a kind of bird’s eye view that offers an overview with regards to the different positions. See more here.

COMPOSITION WORK is a method inspired by Japanese Zen gardens (as ‘mindscape’ metaphor) and also the mind as a “landscape” as described in Dialogical Self Theory. The method, developed by Agnieszka Konopka (Poland and The Netherlands) and Hubert Hermans, invites the client, by way of selecting stones to create a composition of one’s own life. This happens by paying attention to the groups of positions, coalitions between positions and the tension between central or peripheral positions in the self. The method combines both verbal and non-verbal elements (via the weight, colour, form and transparency of the stones as ways to express the affective meaning of I-positions). The composition made not only mirrors the ordering of the positional repertoire but also stimulates the reorganization thereof. See more here.

DIALOGICAL LEADERSHIP METHOD was developed by Rens van Loon (The Netherlands) with the purpose of stimulating the multi-voicedness of the leader and to stimulate the dialogical relationship between those varying voices. A core idea here is that modern leadership is characterized by a broad range of I-positions (e.g. entrepreneur, manager, coach, professional) which ask the leader to move in a flexible way from one position to another depending on the nature of the situation. The method makes constructive and practical use of several core concepts of the Dialogical Self Theory, such as the centralizing and decentralizing of I-positions and the development of ‘promoter positions’ which are able to integrate specific I-positions and give them a developmental push. See more here.

In the PERSONAL POSITION REPERTOIRE (PPR) METHOD, described by Joanna Krotofil (United Kingdom) a diverse series of internal positions (e.g. I as ambitious, I as optimistic, I as anxious) are combined with a series of external positions in the life of a person (e.g. my father, my mother, my inspirational teacher, my opponent). This method invites the person to determine to what degree an internal position comes forward in relation to an external position. The method makes it possible to detect distinct similarities between internal positions and external positions. In this version, the PPR method is combined with the ‘focus group discussions’ so that the content and the ordering of the individual position repertoire can be shared with the group so that participants can learn from one another and collective insights can be generated. See more here.

TEAM CONFRONTATION METHOD (TKM) has been developed by Peter Zomer (The Netherlands) in order to breakthrough counter-productive patterns in cooperative relationships within teams. A central concept here is the “deviant voice” that is particularly suited in breaking through an established pattern within a team and to provide new impulses. In addition this method reveals the presence of collective feelings, collective values, and collective positions. In the field of tension between individuals and collective positions, self-exploration by individual members and the team as a whole is activated. The method is especially useful as a ‘de-freezing’ method to breakthrough rituals that have become stuck and to give the team an innovating impulse as a whole. For more information, see here.

THE ORGANIZATIONAL SCM developed by Richard van de Loo (The Netherlands) is an application of the individual self-confrontation method (SCM) but for use at the level of the organization. Here particular attention is paid to the workings of dominant positions and voices in a group and, the opposite, the presence of hidden positions and voices. In this way, the broadening of the position-repertoire of the members is pursued. The method also stimulates the contribution of new and unexpected voices that can provide an innovative impulse, both for the individual members of the organization as well as the organization as a whole. This method does not only aim to examine relationships between the members of the team but pays explicit attention to the relationships between different teams within an organization. The chief aim is opening new perspectives on existing problems. For more information see here.

The methods described are all theory-led and applicable on a practical level. They are not intended to be strict and static protocols but because of their theoretical grounding allow for multiple adjustments. Different elements and methods can thus be combined and new methods developed, depending on the goals of the target group or organization. In cooperation with the customer/client new methods can be developed that are useful for a specific goal or problem within a particular group or organization. All methods, inspired by the Dialogical Self, have in common that they are an expression of the central concepts of the Academy: multi-voiced, dialogue and a combination of personal responsibility (for one’s self) and social responsibility (for others).

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