Voice Therapy methods and theory have been developed over the past 40 years by Robert Firestone, Ph.D., whose work is an outstanding integration of psychodynamic, existential, cognitive and experiential treatment principles.  Dr. Bonner has completed Level II training in this modality. In his treatment manual (Bonner, 2002), Dr. Bonner has written a section on adapting voice therapy methodology for work with teenagers.

One of Firestone’s core concepts is that of “the voice,” which he defines as “… a well-integrated system of thoughts and attitudes, antithetical toward self and cynical toward others that is at the core of the individual’s maladaptive behavior…. “ (1997, p. 45). From this perspective, the voice generates both hostile self-attacks and harsh assessments of others. In generating self-attacks, the voice undermines the person’s ability to more fully enjoy life and derive satisfaction from everyday accomplishments. In attacking others, the voice impairs the person’s ability to develop and sustain intimacy in relationships. Indeed, the voice has been implicated in a range of emotional dysfunction-- such as suicidal thoughts, child abuse, addictions, violence, marital conflict, and sexual problems.  Voice Therapy methods are easily integrated with the
Internal Family Systems Model.

The core therapeutic intervention of Voice Therapy is deceptive in its simplicity, as it has the power to produce detailed self-criticisms and powerful affect. The technique involves voicing your self-criticisms out loud using the second person pronoun “You,” as if another person was addressing you. That is, instead of saying, “I’m so stupid, I’ll never amount to anything”, you say “You’re so stupid, you’ll never amount to anything.” If you allow yourself to go into as much detail as possible in stating and elaborating your self-criticisms, you may be surprised to hear how hostile your inner critic can be toward you.  This experience can become the starting point for separating from your inner critic and developing a more compassionate perspective on yourself. If this exercise feels too upsetting after you begin,  you should discontinue it and talk to a supportive friend or loved one. You can also learn more about this approach through the following websites and book.

Voice Therapy website:

For self-help applications of this approach, see

Self-Help books

Andreas, S. (2012) Transforming Negative Self-Talk: Practical, Effective Exercises.

Firestone, R.W., Firestone, L. & Catlett, J (2002) Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice: A Revolutionary Program to Counter Negative Thoughts and Live Free From Imagined Limitations. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc

Reference for above quotation:
Firestone, R (1997).  Combating destructive thought processes: Voice therapy and separation theory, Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage Publications

Voice Therapy

Charles Bonner, Ph.D. PA. Lic. PS-007719-L
5873 Forbes Avenue  Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(412) 422-9160 ext. 2   FAX: (412) 422-8180

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Dr. Charles Bonner - Clinical Psychologist - Private Practice
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