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Recording of Parts Therapy (IFS) Session

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Becca, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. Becca

    Becca Well known member

    When I first tried Internal Family Systems (IFS), I had no foundation whatsoever in parts therapy. All I knew at the time was that my mom, an LICSW, had just finished her training as an IFS therapist, and she thought that the model might help me. Sure enough, it did, and now, I can't stop talking about it!

    This past Saturday, several forum members recorded the IFS call-in. The recording (below) is a great way to learn what IFS is actually about. In this call, our very own @njoy works with one of her parts with guidance from Karen, who runs a Thursday night IFS call that both njoy and @Eric "Herbie" Watson have participated in. Karen has some training as an IFS facilitator but is not yet certified as an IFS therapist or coach. After the call (approximately 27 minutes in), @Forest, njoy, Karen, and Herbie discuss the process, with Forest asking specific questions he wrote down during the session.

    Within the first five minutes, Karen does a brief relaxation exercise which helps bring everyone into something called Self. Self is just your best self -- a calm you who takes everything in stride. Once in Self, njoy was able to identify a part she wanted to work on. A part is pretty much what it sounds like: it's a part of your personality, your experience, that may be causing some problems (i.e. making your TMS symptoms worse). For njoy, this part of her felt that she was taking on too much work on the Peer Network and was worried about getting anxious (she's writing a book!).

    As it turns out there are other parts, which IFS calls "concerned parts" that may have some objection to Self working with or talking with the identified part. They could be scared of the part, or angry with it for causing trouble. In the call, njoy has a few of these concerned parts: one tells her to knock it off and another tells her that if she listens to the anxiety, she'll never have any fun. With Karen's guidance, njoy was able to ask her concerned parts if they could stand back, but watch and listen. This verified those parts' concerns but also allowed njoy to approach her "taking on too much" part with an open mind.

    From there, njoy was able to visualize what her part looked like (a two years old child), where it was located in her body, and talk with it to hear how it came to be. In talking with this part, she discovered that her anxiety stemmed from other people's criticisms and some "I told you so" attitudes. Through her conversation she was able to unburden the part, lessening the anxiety and pressure the two-year-old part felt and helping deflect memories of past criticisms unburdening it.

    I won't go into a play-by-play of the entire session here, because it is far better to listen to it rather than read it. It's quite a remarkable thing to witness.

    So, here's the recorded call. Like the discussion group recordings, you can listen to it using the audio player below. You can also download it as an mp3 by right-clicking on this link (or the link below the player) and choose to save it to your computer.

    Click here to download the mp3 audio

    I think that IFS is an intuitive, natural approach and my hope is that by listening to this session, you can see how it works and learn more about it.
  2. Becca

    Becca Well known member

    There are a few key terms used in IFS that come up in the recording. Here are some definitions:

    Part: an aspect of yourself with its own feelings, thoughts and beliefs, sometimes unconscious
    Exile: a wounded inner child that is hidden from your daily conscious mind; sometimes deeply hidden and protected by other parts.
    Protectors: parts that try to help exiles (so they aren’t wounded further) or help you not to feel the pain of the exiles. Sometimes they fail in the job they have taken on but they always try.
    Self: Your best self, unburdened by exiles and protectors. It feels compassion for all living things. It is the real leader in your life but is often “hijacked” by angry, sad, fearful parts who don’t know Self can now handle difficult situations that were impossible when Self was younger.
    Burdens: Protector burdens are the task of helping. Exile burdens are beliefs formed, and decisions made by exiles (who are usually too young to know much about life so can make mistakes).
    Polarization: when two parts of you want opposite things or hold opposing opinions about what to do.

    Also, here are the main steps in an IFS session:
    1. Relax and center.
    2. Notice any feelings or sensations in your body. This is often a part needing your attention.
    3. Describe the part however you can. People differ in this. There’s no right or wrong way.
    4. Notice if there are other parts that have advice or criticism for the part that has come forward.
    5. Ask those concerned parts to stand back and let you get to know the part identified in step 3.
    6. Assure them you will listen to them later.
    7. If they won’t step back you can always help them first.
    8. Ask the part how old it is and what happened to it. If you see it, great. It might also have a name.
    9. Listen to the part’s story, ask for more information until the part feels understood.
    10. Thank the part for it’s help and let it know Self now wants to help and lead.
    11. Ask what the part needs and wants. Give that--a hug, an (imaginary or real) outing, etc.
    12. Continue until the part understands you are there for it from now on.
    13. Ask if there is an exile (a deeply hidden part) being protected. Ask to speak to that exile.
    14. If the part won’t let you meet the exile ask “What are you afraid might happen?”
    15. When you meet the exile, repeat from step 8.
    16. Unburden the exile, if it’s ready. More than one session may be needed until this step is reached.
    17. Do an unburdening ritual, if the exile wants to. An exile’s burdens are angry, sad or fearful feelings.
    18. Usually, protectors will easily let go of their burden (the protection job they have taken on) when they know the exile is now safe with Self as it’s loving friend and leader.
    19. If a problem “comes back” this may indicate more work needs to be done with a part. Often, though, another (similar) part needs attention.
    20. Polarized parts can be worked with individually or (more advanced) together.
    Remember, you don't have to have another person guiding you to go through these steps (though it can be helpful). You can do these steps on your own with great success!
    Eric "Herbie" Watson and Forest like this.
  3. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you, Becca, for taking the time to write this all out and share it with us. It's very helpful.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson and Forest like this.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I just finished listening to the recording and found it very helpful and enlightening regarding how IFS actually works. Thanks so much to everyone involved in making the recording, especially njoy for her willingness to share her "parts" and to Karen for her willingness to share her expertise in this area.

    The resources available on tmswiki continue to amaze and delight me. Thanks so much to all who work so hard on making these resources available. It is much appreciated!
    Becca likes this.
  5. Becca

    Becca Well known member

    I am so, so glad! Our (myself, njoy, Karen, and Forest) hope in creating and posting this recording was to make IFS seem less foreign to folks here on the forum, and communicate how it can really help. (I've used it to help me deal with anxiety, anger, perfectionism, guilt, fear, even writer's block!) So it's great to hear you found it informative and helpful.

    (I should mention that my second post, with the glossary and steps in an IFS session, was a collaboration between myself, Forest, njoy, and Karen. I didn't do all of that myself!)

    As I've written before, I find the self-compassion aspect the most compelling part of IFS. It's the seemingly insignificant steps, like asking if your part wants or needs anything from you, or checking in with concerned parts after a conversation to make sure they don't have lingering or additional concerns, that makes IFS work so well. It's built not just on the idea that we have many, many parts, but that these parts are all working to help us and protect us in different ways. IFS is, more than anything, a way to understand ourselves, develop and strengthen compassion for ourselves, and ultimately, heal.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson and Ellen like this.
  6. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Many thanks for putting this together! Karen did a great job of facilitating and my little kid was pleased to be heard from after such a long time "in exile". I thought this was a good example of how people can work together using IFS. The facilitator (who might be a trained therapist or coach but also might be someone who has read the books and practiced only on herself) shares with the "newbie" how IFS is done and soon they are full partners in the process.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson, Ellen and Becca like this.
  7. Karp8904

    Karp8904 Newcomer

    Sorry if I'm jumping in here but as I searched I couldn't find anything in the threads for IFS. I'm at point with mine where I really need to reach out for support/seek out a community, my own IFS guide has so many clients and because of their part it's easier for them if I save everything inbetween for the coming sessions. Because they have a part concerned with responding as fully as they can and struggles with attempting that via email. My family are either panicking convinced I'm in the wrong therapy and need a scan/pyschological test and/or pressuring me to now take a full time job because my workplace is closing soon so as you can tell I try my best to avoid contact with them.

    Obviously I will have to search for a new job soon too which is also hard for my parts because I've been there for six years and so they're incredibly relaxed in that environment especially as relationships have improved with some colleagues whom were more of a threat in the beginning. I've tried so hard to connect with parts today and muster self-compassion but I'm blending so much and am just generally overwhelmed so end up flitting between being incredibly anxious or crying. If anyone could offer any advice I would EVER so grateful.

    Also I'm super sorry for burdening your parts, I know how it goes!

    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.

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