The Inner Voice Check

Elia, I., 2007. The Inner Voice Check. Reformulation, Summer, pp.28-29.


The Inner Voice Check (IVC) is a set of 10 (A4 size) line drawings, each showing a child and a parent.

The drawings are headed by a simple statement about the child e.g. ‘Child is happy/dancing.’ (see Fig. 1) or ‘Child is sad.’ (see Fig. 2). At the bottom of each drawing, there is a space for the client to complete the sentence: ‘Parent says, ......’ This gives the client an opportunity to express the ‘inner parent’ voice, which is sometimes the role that is hidden. For example, on the sheet headed ‘Child is furious’, one highly educated client filled in the ‘Parent says,’ phrase with ‘Screw you.’ and another completed the ‘Child is cross.’ with ‘Parent says, Let’s go to the cinema.’ [The ten headings are: ‘Child is happy/dancing’, ‘—is upset’, ‘—talking’, ‘—cross’, ‘—awed’, ‘—withdrawn’, ‘—sad’, ‘—furious’, ‘—confused’, ‘Child cannot do.’] I have included only two drawings here as examples. If people are interested, I will try to place all 10 on the ACAT website.

First offered to my co-supervisor as a potential outcome measure to use with teenage clients, I have been using it with most of my adult clients for approximately three years. I usually present it after reformulation, but for clients who are less communicative, I may offer it in session 3, after the CORE and Psychotherapy File have been completed and discussed in previous sessions.

IVC has also been used for people with learning disabilities (PLD), and it was for this application that the last three drawings (not shown here) were created:

‘Child is furious.’

‘Child is confused.’

‘Child cannot do.’

Although these three were suggested by and specifically drawn at the request of a clinical psychologist working with PLD, I give all 10 drawings to my clients.

Responses from PLD, which can be tape-recorded or written down by the psychologist/therapist, are similar to and as revealing as those from non-learning disabled adults. Here are some responses from both groups; can you tell which come from which? (‘Answers’ are at the end.)

  1. ‘ Child is happy/dancing.’ ‘Parent says, Stop messing around I’m busy.’
  2. ‘ Child is cross.’ ‘Parent says, Behave yourself. You’re very naughty.’
  3. ‘ Child is sad.’ ‘Parent says, I love you.’
  4. ‘ Child is talking.’ ‘Parent says, Oh stop talking a lot; you’re such a chatterbox!’
  5. ‘ Child is upset.’ ‘Parent says, Why are you getting upset? Has someone been picking on you?’
  6. ‘ Child is withdrawn.’ ‘Parent says, Speak up! Talk up! Don’t be so quiet again!’

These drawings have not been validated as indicators of particular RRs, but I feel that the responses are usually helpful for deciding what the roles are and reflecting upon them with clients. I will try to have all ten IVC drawings placed on the ACAT website, and anyone who wishes to use them may do so, after reading and accepting a short disclaimer. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to me at
me14@cam.ac.uk

[Answers: 1-3 not learning disabled; 4-6 learning disabled]

Inner Voice Check Diagrams

Full Reference

Elia, I., 2007. The Inner Voice Check. Reformulation, Summer, pp.28-29.

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