Dialogical practice is referring to activities that are related to the psychological concept of dialogical self. It is a theory developed by Dutch psychologist Hubert Hermans.

Hubert Hermans

Hubert Hermans has gained international recognition and is an authority on the fields of narrative psychology and narrative psychotherapy.  H. Hermans has published quite a few studies related to these fields and his work has been translated into nine languages.

The “Dialogical Self Theory” (DST) is attempting to comprehend all processes related to identity. The “Dialogical Self Theory” (DST) does so through the exploration of interactions between ourselves, our cultures, and within different contexts, and by examining various elements of the self, caught in concepts we call I-positions.

“Dialogical Self” is frequently used in the formation of governments, and in coaching, training, and education processes. The theories of Dialogical Self are Inspiring scientists and practitioners from across the globe. There are several scientific organizations that are working towards the development and popularization of theory and practice of Dialogical Self. Here we highlight a few:

The International Society for Dialogical Science (ISDS)

This organization is a network of scholars, researchers, and practitioners that focus on all aspects of “dialogue and the self”. The Society was founded in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, at the renown Radboud University. Hubert Hermans, the creator of DST, is president of ISDS.

The International Institute for Dialogical Self

This institute was founded by Agnieszka Konopka in cooperation with Hubert Hermans. Agnieszka Konopka holds a Ph.D. degree in the Psychology of Emotions, and she is a co-founder of the “Composition work Method and Emotional Coaching Model” together with Hubert Hermans.

The Biannual Dialogical Self Conference

This conference is dedicated to entirely to “Dialogical Self”. This DST Conference is organized every two years and is organized every time in a different country.

Composition work: Agnieszka Konopka

The composition Method was established in 2006 by Agnieszka Konopka together with and Hubert Hermans. The method is founded on the concepts of the Dialogical Self Theory and traditions of Japanese Zen Gardens.

LinkedIn DST Group

This group is set up to introduce the  “Dialogical Self Theory” to an as broad as possible audience and highlights and discusses DST basics and applications for education, coaching, training, and therapeutical purposes.

The dialogical practice is also used in many eLearning programs, for example, the BestGEDClasses website incorporated the Dialogical self-theory teaching into their GED practice test. GED exam helps American dropouts to get the High School Equivalency Diploma and to create a better life.

An Overview

The method of “Dialogical Self Approach – DSA” is a practically-orientated methodology frequently used in training, coaching, and counseling. The methodology is used to allow clients to explore and possibly understand totally different aspects and elements of themselves and how they emotionally relate to that. They will explore and comprehend for example the “I as the enjoyer of life”, the “I as hard worker”, the “I was a child of my parents”, and so on. This approach is focusing on various aspects of the individual that may have not just highly different emotional characters but may also imply opposition and conflicts.

Among crucial personal development tasks in life is the skill to identify and set up a relation between an individual’s highly opposite sides, and how to best create a relative and workable balance between these extremes. If you want to establish this balance, you are required to discover the relation(s) that exist between them. Persons experiencing high levels of stress could discover that they find themselves in an I-position (for example “I was always managing”), whereas at the same time some other crucial I-position (for example “I was looking for depth & meaning”) is asking for attention and fulfillment as well. The DSA methodology brings these I-positions together so they can learn from one another. They will be cooperating rather than fight another.

What you do is not by definition fitting in with you

It happens that for many years, people are living or working from a specific I-position that doesn’t fit them at all. To give you an example, a person is perceived by himself and by many others as the logical successor to a family-operated and owned company. Yet he senses some vague emotions of dissatisfaction, but he never really could understand where that came from. In cases like these, the DSA methodology can be very helpful and allows the person to become aware of, and understand the different underlying I-positions. Be aware though, that they are evoked, they may lead to strong emotions and expressions.

The result may be that the person discovers that earlier, never fulfilled wishes were not materialized. He may now understand that his chosen career path did not fit at all or that, for example, engaging in the art may give new meaning to life.

Upon the first publications on DST, the highly interesting theory has been increasingly applied in a growing number of fields, for example:

  • Personality psychology
  • Cultural psychology psychotherapy
  • Developmental psychology
  • Historical philosophy
  • Psychology of globalization
  • Cyberpsychology
  • Media psychology
  • Human Resource Management
  • Forensic psychology
  • Social work
  • Brain science

DST is a highly interesting, recently developed scientific movement that strongly appeals to a global community of scientists and practitioners. This has resulted in a growing and diverse group of organizations and agencies that are inspired by DST. Without any doubt will the study of theory and methodology of DST further be deepened and result in more and better applications,  steadily increasing number of scientists is perceiving the theory and underlying concepts inspiring and relevant to their work and thinking, and for the further development of the “Self” theory in a rapidly globalizing environment.

Read more about The “Dialogical Self Theory” (DST) here.