The Circle of Interventions


What is the best approach to take to solving your problem? If you don’t know what tools are available, you can’t learn about them in order to choose which will work best for you. Integral Deep Listening uses five different approaches or methodologies, based on the nature of the problem. We discuss them here.

There is a basic conflict between specialization and broad appeal, focus and objectivity, the specific and the general. This dilemma can be thought of as a basic human character trait that shows up in our professional and personal preferences. While we want to specialize, because that emphasizes the uniqueness of what we have to offer, we also want to be all things to all people, so as to attract the broadest audience to our sphere of influence. To claim to do both, to be eclectic and yet specific and specialized, any approach needs to address at least five core aspects of human experience: emotions, cognition, behavior, relationships, and intention, and to do so within some specific context. We will explore how Integral Deep Listening addresses all five of these types of intervention.

Any life challenge is best addressed by a multi-pronged approach.  Rather than just carrying a hammer and treating every problem as a nail, it makes more sense to carry a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a knife, and maybe even duct tape. This is the roundedness of the multiperspectivalism  that is revealed by Integral Deep Listening interviewing. Just as we tend to prefer to stay stuck in our waking perspective rather than inhabit other, radically different ones that may call into question some of our most cherished assumptions, so the comfort of our routines conspires to limit the approaches to problem-solving that we have available. Typically, we have our favorite, habitual approaches to solving our professional and personal life challenges. If we discover any new type of tool we are likely to tell ourselves that our approach included using that tool all along, when we were in fact only carrying a hammer. In this way every specialization, therapeutic approach, or teaching can convince itself and market itself to others that it is the most inclusive, “best” approach to solving problems. It takes both interest and work to devote the time and energy to teasing out the differences in one approach from another, to become convinced of the need to burden oneself with one more thing to carry around. We tell ourselves we have done perfectly well so far with the tools we have; why do we need to carry yet another one? Unfortunately, the more highly trained a person is, the more likely they are to pigeonhole and dismiss critical perspectives, smugly confident in the straightjacket of their world view. So it tends to be with common responses to Integral Deep Listening. When other professionals learn about it they tend to say, “That’s gestalt.” “That’s Voice Dialogue.” ‘That’s Big Mind,” or whatever role-playing interviewing process they are already familiar with.

Integral Deep Listening sees strong preferences as a problem when they blind us to other tools and other approaches that we need.  Strong preferences turn into habits, then ideologies and religions, ideas of what is real, true, and pure that exclude all sorts of creative and potentially useful alternatives, to our own disadvantage.  Rather than challenging preferences, which generally creates resistance, Integral Deep Listening encourages the voicing of additional preferences in an open-focus, democratic process. This is why systems that are built on a wide variety of diverse and sometimes conflicting perspectives are preferable to those that are consistent, in harmony, and abide no conflict. We grow best when everyone is encouraged to honor their core preferences. Integral Deep Listening works best when we discover it within the sources of meaning in our own culture and value systems. Christians are encouraged to discover Integral Deep Listening interviewing as an intrinsic part of the teachings of Jesus, for Jews to find evidence of it in the Torah and Talmud, for Native Americans to discover it in their cultural heritage, for Moslems to divine its roots in the Koran, for Buddhists to trace it back to the Abhidhamma, for Hindus to find it in the Vedas, and for everyone to find it in their own dreams and life issues.

Five Types of Intervention

In the field of psychotherapy, approaches that emphasize emotional experience or catharsis include Freud’s psychoanalysis, Perl’s gestalt, Roger’s client-centered therapy, and Janov’s primal scream therapy.  Traditional psychodynamics, with its emphasis on building ego strength, self-esteem, and internal well-being, boil down to strategies for emotional intervention. Notice that all of these contain important aspects of the other four elements: cognition, behavior, relationships, and intention.

Approaches that emphasize cognition include Ellis’ Rational Emotive Therapy and the cognitive behavioral therapy of Beck and Burns. Similarly, each of these contain important affective, behavioral, relationship, and intentional elements.

Behavioral approaches are represented by medicine, yogas, Skinnerian behaviorism, EMDR, (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), and integral life practices. Each of these contain important emotional, relationship, intention, and cognitive elements.

Relationship approaches include Eric Berne’s Transactional analysis, Moreno’s psychodrama, and Virginia Satir’s work with systemic constellations and family therapy. Notice that each claims to be complete and integrative, in that it contains behavioral, cognitive, intentional, and emotional elements as well.

Intention-oriented approaches include Jung’s analytical psychology, Assagioli’s Psychosynthesis, Viktor Frankel’s Logotherapy, Glasser’s Reality Therapy, prayer, and “new thought,” or positive thinking. Intentional approaches emphasize values, culture,  and world-view, but above all, choice. The implication is that you become what you choose to think about, feel, and do. Consequently, intentional oriented interventions tend to have an orientation toward goal setting, grounding emerging potentials, and creating future realities. At the same time they claim to take into account emotions, cognition, behavior, and relationships.

All of these approaches emphasize different combinations of the five types of intervention. For example, Wilber’s integral holonic quadrant model places emotion and cognition in the interior individual life space, behavior in the exterior individual, relationships in the exterior collective, and intention more or less in the interior collective quadrant, and argues for the need to both take into account and balance all of them. However, for Wilber’s integral, the particular model that is used is of secondary importance. What is of primary importance is that each is considered and participates in some way in the growth process, which is an intentional issue. In this regard, the primary emphasis of Wilber’s integral is intentional.

Integral Deep Listening dream yoga consciously attempts to take all five of these important life areas into account, on the theory that to be versatile, adaptive, and creative in solving your life problems and helping others you need to have at least one tool from each category in your tool kit.  Integral Deep Listening encourages its students to be flexible and variable in the approaches that they use to resolve life issues, understand dreams, access their inner compass, and put the recommendations of their emerging potentials to work. Here is an overview of how it does so.

Relationship Intervention: The roots of Integral Deep Listening are in J.L. Moreno’s Sociometry, which is a relationship-based approach to intervention. Group interactional models are not typical or expected approaches to dreamwork. This is perhaps a major reason why Integral Deep Listening is as effective as it is: it uses a category of intervention as primary that has generally been either neglected or used in ways that are more quantitative than integral, for example, Van de Castle’s Content Analysis of Dreams. 

There are other reasons why an approach built on relationships is foundational for Integral Deep Listening. Early exposure to intentional, cognitive, and affective approaches to understanding dreams were too projective, reductionistic, or cathartic for my interest, which was to access the healer within. The approaches of classical dream interpretation in world religion, Freud, and Jung view dreams as symbolic and their contents, whether personal or archetypal, as symbols to be interpreted. Symbolic interpretations are projective in that someone is telling you what your dream means. That friend or “expert” is projecting his or her understanding onto your dream. It doesn’t matter if the source is scripture, a guru, a psychic like Cayce, or a dream symbology book. They are all projective.

It is useful to learn about symbols. I recommend Mircea Eliade’s Signs and Symbols in Comparative Religion and Carl Jung’s, Man and His Symbols. Interpretive approaches to symbol interpretation are inherently reductionistic. When you see a dream sun as an archetype of warmth and life or a gun as an archetype of masculine aggression you are projecting your values onto the sun and guns while discounting whatever significance your dream sun or gun have in themselves. When people view mates as status symbols their intrinsic worth is discounted. However, there is no substitute for having the parts of yourself that are in your dream interpret your dream for you. There is nothing wrong with such approaches, as long as you do not conclude that you are actually discovering what your dream means. Use them to broaden and deepen your understanding, but only as one methodology in an integral approach to dreamwork.

Gestalt dreamwork, another approach to dreamwork that I learned early on, and which grew out of Moreno’s psychodrama and so had a combination of emotional and relationship intervention roots, is a cathartic approach to understanding both dreams and resolving life issues. In my experience, both as a subject and therapist, it emphasizes temporary changes in state rather than lasting changes in developmental stages. People have important, sometimes impressive, emotional breakthroughs doing gestalt dreamwork, and these tend to be short-lived, because that is the nature of state changes. It is a challenge to turn emotional breakthroughs, trance and mystical awarenesses into higher stage development and lasting change.

Moreno’s emphasis on relationship intervention became a foundation of Integral Deep Listening because it provided, through Moreno’s sociometry, a methodology that allowed the creation of a group, or intrasocial, approach to understanding dreams. In Dream Sociometry, a number of different dream characters are interviewed at the same time, their preferences scored, their explanations of their preferences collected in elaborations, and their scores depicted in relationship to one another in a diagram called a sociogram. This process can also be done with waking cultural “nightmares,” such as 9/11, or  with personal nightmares and challenges, such as illnesses and accidents. In Integral Deep Listening interviewing, interviewed emerging potentials demonstrate not only a multiplicity of realities but together create a multifaceted understanding of any dream.

Integral Deep Listening throws light on the relationship between your waking identity and your largely unrecognized and misunderstood expansive, multiple, alternate perspectives. It clarifies the relationship between who you are in dreams, lucid dreams, and mystical experiences, such as near death experiences, and your emerging potentials.  Your waking scripting and assumptions filter out almost all emerging potentials and growth opportunities, blocking access to your inner compass. In addition, your waking identity chronically misperceives the intentions of dream characters and waking events, creating delusion and unnecessary suffering. It also emphasizes the relationship between drama, through identification with the three roles of the Drama Triangle, victim, persecutor, and rescuer, in your thoughts, and dreams. This clarifies the relationship between delusion and clarity.

Intentional intervention: Every dream, every nightmare, is a manifestation of a complex, sophisticated web of intentions, generally a combination of conscious goal setting and the habitual sleepwalking of living out your life script. In addition to these two realms of attention, waking and scripted, there is at least one more, and that is the realm of the intentions of your emerging potentials. Integral Deep Listening uses the phenomenological suspension of waking assumptions and interpretations during the interviewing of dream characters and the personifications of life issues to access their intentions. It does so to amplify them in relationship to the prominence of waking and scripted potentials. Your emerging potentials belong to you and are a part of you, and yet are intrinsically anchored beyond you, in an identity that is not personal in any way. It would be wrong to call these intentions “soul qualities,” because to do so would imply that they retain some degree of personal investment. Studies of ethics and values have shown that the core values that are most important to humans are harm/care and fairness/reciprocity, including issues of rights such as inequality and exploitation, ingroup/loyalty, authority, respect and purity/sanctity. (cited in reference to the “Moral Foundations Questionnaire,” developed by Jesse Graham and Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia. )

Your emerging potentials tend, as a group, to score much lower in these core determiners of human priorities than you do. You can demonstrate this to yourself to your own satisfaction by taking the above moral inventory and then retaking it as one of your high-scoring emerging potentials from one of your interviews. Why do they score lower in values that humans hold most sacred? Because your emerging potentials are imaginary, they demonstrate a reduced interest in maintaining factors necessary for continued existence.  They cannot die, so issues of  harm and care are less important. They own nothing, including a sense of permanence, so they are less concerned with issues of fairness and reciprocity. How much reduced the importance of these core ethical factors is for an emerging potential depends considerably on two factors. First, your ability to suspend your waking suppositions and become your dream characters and life issue personifications. Secondly, the amount that you are exposed to your emerging potentials and their values matters. Less time means that they will tend to reflect more of these concerns in their statements; more interviews and more identifications means that they will tend to reflect fewer of them.

Because something is imaginary it does not mean that it is not real.   Because your emerging potentials are imaginary it does not mean that they are not real. Most sources of fear are imaginary, but the fear, interpersonal conflicts and wars that they cause are real enough. Has anyone ever had a nightmare that wasn’t more real than life while they were in the grips of it? Isn’t it true that most life dramas, intensively real while we are in the throes of them, are seen to be largely imaginary, delusional, unimportant, and a tragic waste of time and energy in retrospect? Stating that emerging potentials are imaginary is important, because it deprives them of the permanent ontological status given to existing things. As Buddhists would put it, it deprives them of bhava, or “own being,” independence, as opposed to interdependence. This is critical. It also undercuts the basic objection to intentional interventions – focusing on something that does not (yet) exist. The answer is, of course, that on some level of perception, from certain legitimate perspectives, such intentions not only exist, but are more real than you are. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the Greek founders of Western rationalism, understood this. It is of critical importance to the world and survival of countless species that humanity grow up and learn to respect the legitimate needs and concerns of those who are not yet born. In this respect, global warming is proof that man is yet to evolve beyond late prepersonal levels of development.

Emerging potentials do not exist in most ways that are important to humans, yet to say that they do not exist would be to deny the central place that they play in human reality. For example, for many humans, life is more important than inner peace, yet for most emerging potentials the intention to experience inner peace as broadly as possible is paramount. If you talk to someone with cancer, their return to health is paramount. However, if you interview one or more of their inner potentials, you will most likely find that the quality of their life, including their ability to experience inner peace, is paramount. The same can be said about each of the other core qualities of emerging potentials identified by Integral Deep Listening and amplified by it – witnessing, acceptance, wisdom, compassion, and confidence. Your emerging potentials are consistently more objective or witnessing than you are. Another way of stating this is to point out that they are intrinsically mediative. Your emerging potentials are consistently more accepting than  you are. They do not indulge in the cognitive distortions and projections that create self-criticism, depression, anxiety, and drama. Your emerging potentials are not always, but consistently and generally, wiser than you are, a claim you can easily prove for yourself. Your emerging potentials are more compassionate than you are, in the sense that they are more selfless, with a broader sense of care than you generally demonstrate. Your emerging potentials are more confident than you are because they have less fear, since they cannot die.

These qualities tend to be consistently valued more highly by your “imaginary” emerging potentials than they are by you. They are imaginary in the same sense that intention is imaginary, yet they are not only real, but fundamentally so, in the same sense that intention is. Every time you do an Integral Deep Listening interview, become an emerging potential while awake, meditating, dreaming, or deeply asleep, or trust to apply their recommendations in your waking life,  you cultivate such transformational intention. Integral Deep Listening is an easily underestimated tool for not simply making your dreams come true, but aligning your dreams with those of your inner compass and making those dreams come true, which is fundamentally more to your benefit.

Behavioral intervention: This is the area where the rubber meets the road, where dreams and nice conjecture collide with the hard facts of making money and getting along with people. Integral Deep Listening is worth nothing if it is not grounded in operationally defined changes in behavior. Otherwise, it is simply another system of prepersonal faith, like tarot cards, astrology, psychic surgery, or prayer. These have value and legitimacy, but they do not rise to the level of empirical validation, in the sense that their results can be duplicated in a predictable way by proponents of the method. Any methodology or yoga that claims to be transpersonal, as Integral Deep Listening does, must include and then transcend both faith and reason. This means that anything that is transpersonal has to be able to pass the tests of rational empiricism. Almost all purveyors of all things spiritual will protest that this is untrue and unfair, but either the transpersonal transcends and includes the rational, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then Wilber’s pre-trans fallacy comes into play: you are confusing the prepersonal with the transpersonal.

Operationally defining behavioral change in an observable, repeatable way is a supremely rational enterprise. Integral Deep Listening includes the rational in its claim to be more than a prerational system of belief in several ways. Anyone can learn its injunctions and verify the claims of the method for themselves. Specifically, these claims include the following:

– that the method gives you access whenever and wherever you desire to perspectives that are legitimate, autonomous, and broader than your own. The way this is tested is by pretests of your perspectives, as represented by your associations to a dream, if you are interviewing dream characters, or with your life issues if you are interviewing an emerging potential or life dream or nightmare. You compare your pretest perspective with the perspective that evolves through the interviewing process and decide for yourself if it is broader and more inclusive. You can submit your pretest and your interviews to objective third parties and ask their opinion on the same question.

– that the method will provide you with personally satisfying interpretations of your dreams and nightmares;

– that following the recommendations of interviewed elements, when they are supported by respected others and your common sense, will increase your self-esteem, reduce drama in your life, and move you into closer harmony with a sense of core direction;

– that you will reduce the likelihood for the external manifestation of nightmares in your life, whether as accidents, “bad luck,” conflict with others, or disease. None of these can be eliminated, nor can they be avoided forever, but they can be reduced. Integral Deep Listening can help you to do so;

– that you will grow toward a high level of personal and into what Wilber calls vision-logic, typified by the ability to simultaneously hold multiple perspectives at the same time;

– that you will have increasing openings, through your interviews, into perspectives that represent different varieties of mystical experiences. There will be more experiences of unity with the natural world, avatars of love, formless potential, and the integration of all of these.

– you will note improvement, as measured objectively and operationally. Operational definitions ask, “What behaviors will be different in frequency and intensity?” “What could be observed to be different by objective third parties?” So, for example, how is a predicted increase in self-acceptance measured? Fewer self-critical statements (“I’m stupid, ugly, a failure..” or statements reflecting self-doubt (“I’m not sure,” “I can’t,” etc.) reported by others; more self-accepting statements (“I can do it.” “I feel good,” “I screwed up! Ha ha!”) reported by others. The same is true regarding the measurement of other core qualities of confidence, wisdom, compassion, inner peace, and witnessing.

In addition, Integral Deep Listening attempts to quantify the recommendations of interviewed emerging potentials. If they say, “meditate more,” what does that mean? Does it mean sitting and observing the contents of your mind for twenty minutes twice a day instead of for ten once a day? Does it mean naming your thoughts and feelings throughout your day? Does it mean remembering to observe your breath as you drive or work?

– Integration of emerging potentials into your everyday habits of thinking, feeling, relationships, and behavior – the other aspects of the circle of interventions – is necessary to move from transformative but transitory states to the regular stability necessary to maintain a higher stage of development. Integral Deep Listening asks, “How can you take ‘fire from heaven’ and keep it alive in your life?” “How do you maintain an expanded sense of self that is unified with others, free, confident and compassionate?” To this end, Integral Deep Listening asks interviewed emerging potentials for their recommendations regarding concrete life issues that are central for you. How would they deal with those issues? Are they important to them? Would they emphasize other issues instead? Why? Emphasis is placed on remembering to become this or that emerging potential at specific times or in specific circumstances, based on the convergence of the concurrence of other respected emerging potentials, respected waking voices, and your common sense.

Emotional intervention: When you become a dream character or the personification of a life issue you are asked to temporarily suspend your identification with your normal waking sense of who you are in favor of looking at the world from the perspective of a lion or a tea kettle. This often results in an experiential cathartic shift that is observable by others. Energy level, presence, and beingness can shift noticeably.  People may describe this as a sense of spaciousness, expanded freedom, peace, or greater acceptance.  Those who are interviewed are commonly observed to become lighter in mood and to relax. They become more peaceful and “brighter.” Such changes can be very seductive, and people are often attracted to affective interventions to get their next fix of emotional expansiveness. For Integral Deep Listening, emotional intervention means the promotion of an experiential shift around issues that make a genuine difference to your happiness. Because Integral Deep Listening emphasizes the integration of such shifts into waking awareness, eyes remain open and there is no trance or loss of consciousness. There is no intention to change state but rather a very deliberate intent to maintain an expanded state.  Generally, the degree of shift is determined by your ability to get in role and stay in role. Those who do not get in role and stay in role rob themselves of an opportunity to experience who they potentially are.

Is the change of state experienced with Integral Deep Listening interviewing always positive? Anyone can defeat the process by not getting into role, but instead pretending they have and telling themselves what they want to hear. Such self-deception accomplishes nothing and reflects either a lack of understanding of the method or an unwillingness to use it. Even when one becomes a dream character that is angry or scared and doesn’t want to change, the experience validates those feelings, which is a positive experience. For example, if you interview a fire in a nightmare that is consuming your house, it may not want to be put out or changed into something you would like, such as water or ice. In such cases the fire is insisting that it be heard and accepted. What is it saying? Generally there is some sort of danger in your life that doesn’t need to change or go away until it is recognized and addressed.

Cognitive intervention:  Research has demonstrated cognitive behavioral therapy to be the most effective treatment for most types of depression and anxiety. It is based on the principle that how you think determines how you feel. If you think thoughts like “I am stupid,” or “I am ugly,” you become more anxious or depressed or both. If you look at such thoughts carefully, you find that they are not true or rational. Instead, they are “cognitive distortions,” delusions you feed yourself that keep you stuck. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches people to identify their cognitive distortions, challenge their logic and usefulness, and to come up with healthy substitutions. For example, instead of thinking, “I am stupid,” because you didn’t do well on a test, you might tell yourself, “I didn’t do well on that test.” Instead of telling yourself, “I am ugly,” you might tell yourself, “I don’t match the standard of beauty that others and I have for myself.” Such statements don’t gloss over your feelings or try to pretend they don’t exist. Instead, they put you in a space where you can ask, “So, what do I want to do about that?” And one answer would probably be, “Stop telling myself I am stupid or ugly.”

Every Integral Deep Listening interview contains statements that can be used as powerful and effective alternatives to cognitive distortions. Doing interviews challenges your cognitive distortions, and reading them over reinforces healthy alternatives to them. For example, one lady felt very heavy and burdened. Her thought was, “I am trapped in my circumstances.” When she interviewed the heavy feeling it became a fetus. The fetus reframed her heaviness and sense of being burdened as a pregnancy, implying that she was in the gestation stage of transformation and rebirth. She could now substitute a new thought, “I am being reborn,” for the cognitive distortion, “I am trapped in my circumstances.”

Each of these five interventions balance out the others. Together they are synergistic, which means that they move you from your present status quo, or thesis life position, into a questioning and reframing of it that occurs during the interview. Your interviewed emerging potential provides an antithesis to your waking stuckness. When it is integrated into your waking life, using all five modalities, synthesis occurs. You function at a broader, more inclusive level in all five of these core life dimensions.

For more information on these topics, consult other essays on this site or visit For direction in applying these principles in  your life and those you love or care for professionally, email Joseph.Dillard@Gmail.Com.




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