Interviewing 102: Interviewing Protocols

Unit 2: Interviewing Protocols

Subjects of Interviews

Who gets to be interviewed?   

Yourself: IDL uses self interviewing to support your self-development, generate empathy through identification with other perspectives, support problem solving, access transformational perspectives, generate objectivity, thin identification with habitual waking definitions of self, expand identity, and move from psychological geocentrism toward polycentrism. As you broaden and thin your identity through identifying with an increasing number of alternative, authentic and relevant perspectives, you get out of your own way. The result is you project your interpretations and assumptions onto others less often and improve your ability to listen to them in an integral and deeply empathetic and respectful way.  There is a second way that you are interviewed: by others. In addition to the above benefits, you learn IDL interviewing much quicker and are more insightful and effective in your interviewing when you experience interviewing from the perspective of an interviewed subject.   

Others: IDL uses your interviewing of others to generate a support system of like minds, develop interpersonal respect, intimacy, honesty, and transparency, provide a way to experience others as aspects of yourself, gain insight into your issues through the interviews of others, provide reframings of your life issues, provide additional recommendations for your life issues, teach interpersonal application monitoring and accountability, spread the values, methods, and culture of IDL, and receive feedback on the effectiveness of IDL for others and for different specific life issues other encounter. These two varieties of interviewing, of yourself and of others, generate a polar dynamic that speeds and deepens your competency applying IDL interviewing in your life and in the lives of others. 

Topics of Interviews

  Dreams: Any element from the sleep state can be a subject of an interview. It could be sleep paralysis, in which case one would personify the experience, say of fear, and interview it. Night terrors can also be interviewed in a similar way, since these rarely have visual content. Elements from a lucid dream or nightmare, false awakening, or visitation by a deceased relative can also be interviewed. Day residue and dreams we are confident are meaningless mundane junk, like random thoughts remembered from sleep upon awakening, are important to interview in that they often challenge our assumptions that some dreams are meaningless, unimportant, or irrelevant.   

Life Issues: At the beginning of all IDL interviews three life issues are stated. Subjects always have the option, instead of interviewing a dream character, of choosing a life issues, accessing a core feeling it evokes, allowing it to assume a form, shape, or character, and interviewing that. People often bring up life issues in the course of conversation. Instead of providing suggestions and risk getting into the role of Rescuer in the Drama Triangle, the appearance of such life issues can be an easy entry into an interview, either impromptu or to schedule for some later meeting.  Interviewing life issues is a way to demonstrate the practical relevancy of IDL interviewing to issues that matter to the subject in the here and now.  If a subject is new to interviewing or draws a blank when attempting to turn a feeling regarding a life issue into a form, ask, “If that feeling were an animal, what animal first comes to your mind?” The reason this strategy is effective is because as children our dreams were filled with animals and so there is a natural affinity toward such personifications that helps people learn to take another perspective besides their own. Another reason this strategy is effective is because we easily associate different emotions with different types of animals: sloths are lazy, lions are brave; dragons are magical; tortoises are protected. Of course those are stereotypes, and your sloth, lion, dragon, or tortoise may be associated with completely different qualities.   

Other: Mystical and near death experiences, synchronicities, life dramas, like an argument, bullying, or failure, can all be subjects of interviews. Fictional characters, like Voldemort from Harry Potter, personas and events from the geopolitical zeitgeist, like Donald Trump or the War on Gaza can also be interviewed, as can historical and mythological events and characters. Interviewing life issues and non-dream events quickly demonstrates the dream-like nature of waking experience. That does not mean that your waking reality is unreal or illusory, but that it has a dreamlike degree of reality and meaning when approached from the perspectives of interviewed emerging potentials. Recognizing that waking experience is very much a collective, waking dream is something of a revelation for some students.  While anything can potentially be an object of an interview, things or nouns work better than processes or verbs. For instance, it is better to interview a bat than to interview “flying” or a fire rather than “burning.” This is because things are more concrete than processes, meaning that it is easier to become or identify with, and to speak as a thing like a sink than a process, like draining. 

Interviewing Protocols

Types of Protocols

Single element interviewing protocols: These provide a deep dive into experiencing reality from one other perspective, including whatever transformations/transmutations it chooses to make. Single event interviewing has the advantages of being quicker, easier, simpler, while still effective at teaching empathy, identification with alternative worldviews, thinning and broadening the self, and generating recommendations to operationalize and test. Disadvantages of single element interviewing are that they may focus in on one aspect of a dream or life issue without providing context or access to other perspectives that may be as important or more important.   

Multiple element interviewing protocols: In IDL, these are called “Dream Sociometry,” and were the source of IDL interviewing in 1980. In Dream Sociometry, several characters in a dream or life issue are listed as “choosers” along the left margin of a grid, called a “Dream Sociomatrix.’ Those characters and sometimes others, are listed along with important actions and feelings, on the top margin of the Dream Sociomatrix as “chosen” elements. Subjects become each chooser and state preferences toward chosen characters, actions, and feelings. There are seven varieties of preference, “like,” “like a lot,” “love,” “no preference,” “dislike,” “dislike a lot,” “hate,” and “transcending all preferences.” All except the last are given a corresponding numerical value: 1, 2, 3, 0, -1, -2, -3. These scores are tabulated at the right and bottom margins of the Dream Sociomatrix and can be plotted on a “Dream Sociogram,” which consists of four number lines and concentric circles. The charting of the preferences of dream choosers and chosen dream elements objectifies the relationships among the characters, their actions, and feelings in a dream or life issue. It is as if you were looking down on the dream from outside the various different preferences and worldviews that are represented in it, allowing you to see relationships and meanings that were invisible to you as long as you stayed in your role as dreamer.  Dream Sociometry provides a deep dive into any dream or life issue due to its interviewing of multiple perspectives. The “Trainer” level of Certification in the IDL Curriculum teaches Dream Sociometry and its use as a research tool with specific populations, such as people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or personality disorders. In addition to publishing research, Trainers supervise IDL student Coaches and Practitioners. Dream Sociometry is derived from the sociometry of J.L. Moreno. Two books, “Dream Sociometry,” and “Understanding the Dream Sociogram,” explain the creation of both Dream Sociomatrices and Dream Sociograms as well as how to interpret Dream Sociograms.   Dream Character Interviewing: This template is in Unit One of this Module and also on the IDL website at:   Life Issue Interviewing: This template is in Unit One of this Module and also on the IDL website at:   Interviewing Children: You can access this template at the IDL website at: Interviewing a Physical Symptom: You can access this template at the IDL website at:

Types of Questions and their Purposes

  Character identification: Getting into Role: Looking out at the dream or life issue from the perspective of the interviewed character is essential for a successful interview. These initial questions are designed to support and validate that such identification with the character is occurring and is maintained.  

Ownership: What is the character’s interpretation of what aspect of the subject it represents or most closely personifies? You are asking the character not only what place it has in the life of the subject but more broadly for its interpretation of the dream or life issue. This supports ownership of the experience of the interview. An advanced additional question only asked of experienced subjects is its inversion: “What aspect of you, (character), does this human represent?” The purpose of this inversion is to de-centralize identity and to help the subject recognize that interviewed characters are not simply self-aspects, but, from their perspective, the subject is a self-aspect of any interviewed character.   

Transformation: Does the character wish to transform? If so, how?  

Life Issue Recommendations: These questions focus on application. It is very easy to forget about the contents of any interview, regardless of how impactful it might be, because it represents perspectives that are not typical or normal, and therefore tend to be ignored, forgotten, discounted, or repressed. Application not only helps keep the interview alive but integrates the interviewed perspectives into a broader, deeper identity while building trust in the process through testing its efficacy. 

Interviewing Formats and Recording

 The purposes of making a record of an IDL interview include reminding the subject of what they said, as the perspective of this or that interviewed character, during an interview. While subjects are not in an altered state of consciousness during an interview, as occurs during hypnosis or in a shamanic trance, some degree of dissociation occurs whenever we identify with another perspective. Consequently, it is easy to forget or discount the value of that perspective after an interview, due to our ingrained and natural desire to stay in control by identifying with our normal waking perspective. We quickly return to being “us” and as quickly forget the dream-like perspective of the interviewed character and what it said, regardless of how relevant and meaningful it was at the time. Making a record of an interview allows us to compensate for this normal combination of forgetfulness and reluctance. When you read over an “old,” forgotten interview, don’t be surprised if you are amazed at its wisdom and relevance and puzzled at why and how you managed to forget about something so relevant and important. 

Written: Interviewing answers can be written down with pencil or pen and paper. In IDL salons, a piece of paper with the questions written down on front and back can be passed out to group members and the answers to each question written down as the host reads them off to the group. Something similar can be done with self interviews. Initially, over a hundred Dream Sociometric interviews were completed in this fashion. 

Recorded: Interviews can be voice recorded, translated into text, and then edited.  Computer mediated: For years I have typed answers into computer mediated interviewing templates and then shared them with students, subjects, and clients. IntegralDeepListening.Com contains both individual and multiple (Dream Sociometry) character interviewing formats that are not part of the on-line protocols, that students can access for both self interviews and interviewing others. The on-line protocols   generate a PDF which can be emailed to students. It also provides a record for comparison of interviews, whether of self, others, or of subjects presenting some similar life issue, for research leading to publication, to document and present findings for assessment by others. 

Keeping track of interviewed elements

Over time you will collect quite a menagerie of interviewed characters, perspectives, emerging potentials. What do you do with them? How do you keep track of them? How do you make use of them?  From early on in your work with IDL interviewing it is good to create a grid that lists the names, major characteristics, and recommendations associated with each one. Otherwise, their contributions to your life or that of your interviewing subjects can quickly be forgotten. 

Common Issues and How to Deal With Them

 Subject Not in Role: If you have any doubt that your subject is not taking the perspective of the interviewed element, ask, “(Character,) is that you answering or is that your human?” “Your human listens to their own thoughts and feelings constantly. Now is the time for them to be quiet and listen to what YOU have to say.”   

Interjecting Interpretations: Interpretations by interviewers normally come after the interpretations of the interviewed character(s) and the subject. However, if you have an interpretation of what’s going on during the interview, you can ask the character. For example, “Sink, are you saying that sugar is draining your human’s energy?” If you ask such questions, don’t be surprised if the character either comes up with an interpretation you didn’t expect or else adds a considerable expanded understanding to your own.   

Controlling Transformations: Make sure it is the character’s wish to transform. Getting information from the transformed character about itself. Make sure that the subject is looking out at the experience (dream or life issue) from its perspective, not that of the subject.  

Not operationalizing recommendations: This is a skill set that takes time and support. Start simply and introduce pieces over time with additional interviews. Don’t be afraid to back off if the expectations for follow through are too much or unrealistic. It is normal to underestimate the amount of effort, time, and commitment any life change is going to require.   

Not setting up an accountability structure: Most of us require an accountability structure to achieve goals. That’s why school attendance is more likely to lead to completion than home study. IDL requires course progress with fellow team members to compensate for its distant learning. Being both accountable to your team and supporting other team members in their learning is a way of learning to more effectively support your clients as a Coach, Practitioner, or Trainer. 

  Problems Operationalizing Recommendations

Not specifying recommendations from the interview: Recommendations can be vague. For example, if an interviewed roadrunner tells you to “try harder to be on time,” what exactly does that mean? What do you need to do differently to be where you say you are going to be at the time you are expected to arrive?

Not prioritizing recommendations: Not all recommendations are of equal importance. For example, a recommendation that is important to you may not be as important to multiple interviewed characters. For example, you may think gaining the appreciation of others is very important while characters you interview may not care about that at all. They may instead encourage you to build your peace of mind. In such situations, you can of course work on multiple recommendations at the same time, and you may find you are more motivated to work on recommendations that matter more to you. Just keep in mind that as you accrue a menagerie of interviewed characters and a pile of recommendations, you can always ask interviewed characters as well as your fellow team members for help in prioritizing recommendations. 

Not setting up an accountability structure: As interviewer, it is your responsibility to introduce this concept to your subjects and provide them with a degree of support that feels right and keeps them engaged, motivated, and making progress toward the resolution of life issues important to them. 

Not monitoring your accountability structure daily: Ask your subject, “How can you track your application of (the application they choose) day by day? What do you think would work best for you?” You can also ask their interviewed characters what they recommend in terms of accountability. Start where they are and then introduce ideas for accountability when and if their plan isn’t working.

Not asking, “How will you know if there is a change?” This question helps your interviewed subjects to operationalize recommendations of their choice.

Not asking, “How will I know that this change is due to IDL and IDL interviewing and not to other factors? This question will also help your interviewed subjects to operationalize recommendations of their choice.

Assignments and Homework 


Quizlet is an excellent study aid. You can make sets of study flach cards as well as review sets made by other students.


Under “Essays and Interviews,”  read:

How to create an IDL Salon:

Create an IDL Salon!


In the IDL video curricula, watch: Choosing Life Issues

Generation of the Personification of a Life Issue for Interviewing

This video explains how personifications of life issues are created by associating the chosen life issue with feelings, those feelings with a color or color filling one’s field of vision, and then spontaneously allowing those colors to congeal into a form, preferably an animal for subjects new to the process.

Writing Your Dream and Your Associations to It:

Providing Date, Name, and Deciding Who to Interview: How to add a title and name in the on-line interviewing protocol and important information about how to choose a character to interview.

Taking the Perspective of an Interviewed Character

The critical piece of IDL interviewing is your ability to step aside and let your chosen character have its voice and spontaneously answer as it chooses. These initial questions are designed to help you authentically take its perspective. At the same time, you are learning more about how to fill out the on-line interviewing format.

Personifications and Possible Transformations:

What aspects of yourself does your interviewed character say it most closely personifies? Does it want to transform? If so, how? Noting these responses in the protocol.

Integrating What You Have Heard: Adding Your Interpretation and Those of Others

When we interview others we often recognize issues and receive value for ourselves in our lives. The feedback of others, in terms of what they have heard and how they are integrating and applying the perspective of the interviewed dream character is generally a valuable resource. Dreamers are surprised how much their interview resonates with others, and others are often surprised at how the interview awakens within them goodness, truth, and harmony that is rich and fulfilling.

Suggestions for Introducing Others to IDL Interviewing

IDL Interviewing of dream characters and the personifications of life issues is fun, powerful, and intimate. As a result, interviewing others can be extremely valuable, meaningful, and rewarding, but at the same time, problematic. This is because fun, power, and intimacy don’t always go together. Fun can often mean an escape from intimacy. Power can be manipulative and also an escape from honesty and intimacy. Intimacy can be threatening. Both intimacy and power can undermine our sense of personal control over our lives. What looks fun at the beginning can turn into something that is dead serious. Here are several recommendations for how to approach introducing IDL interviewing to others.


Create a grid to keep track of the recommendations you are working on. This is an example from the previous Unit:  Daily Recommendation/Application Tracking Chart

Character/Recommendation Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Snowball: Chill out when criticized √ √ √√√√ √√ √√√
Cactus: Avoid engaging prickly people  √√ √√√√ √√√
Gila Monster: Maintain peace of mind 7 3 3 6 2 7 4

– Trade interviews of both dreams and life issues with one or more partner once a week. – Interview someone else at least twice. – Have others you have interviewed interview you at least twice. – Submit your written interviews to your supervising team member. To have your interviews automatically created for you, use the on-line interviewing format on this site.  – Keep track of the interviews you do by listing the following: Name of the interview Date Who/What interviewed Major Recommendations Choose one or more recommendation from your interviews to apply and monitor. 


  1. Write down your answers to the following questions.
  2. Share your answers with your other study team members.
  3. Discuss.
  4. Submit your written answers.

What interviewing formats have you used? What problems have you encountered? Have you applied any character recommendations? If so, what have been the results? What method do you use for keeping a record of your interviews for future access? How would you rate the usefulness of this unit 0-10? Why? How can it be improved? Meet with your team at least once a week.

Setting Intent

What do you want to take away from this unit to improve your life?

How would you like it to influence your dreams tonight?

How can you format that as a statement of intention to read over to remind yourself, before you go to sleep, to incubate in your dreams tonight?

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