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Internal Family Systems (IFS)

Neuroscientists, artificial intelligence pioneers, evolutionary psychologists and clinicians who work with people who have experienced trauma largely agree that all of our minds are made up of multiple "parts".  Richard Schwartz, a psychotherapist trained in Family Systems Therapy developed an enormously useful map of the psyche that can be used to develop a healthy relationship with all of your parts, especially the ones you can blame for causing you to be in pain and feel disconnected from others.  All parts are inherently "good", but can be forced into unhelpful behaviors by burdens (often composed of  limiting beliefs) that other parts may perceive as "bad".  This model is inherently optimistic and does not pathologize people.  It sees our core self to always have these attributes:

  1. Curiosity

  2. Clarity

  3. Compassion

  4. Creativity

  5. Clarity

  6. Curiosity

  7. Confidence

  8. Courage

When our protective parts are seen as "people within us", they can allow this core self to be experienced by anyone.


Rather than seeing the "ego" as something to get rid of, Bill sees it as a collection of protective, managerial "parts" that are working hard to help us to survive in the world.  When these parts are seen/heard and receive our compassion instead of disdain, they soften, become less rigid and no longer sabotage our mental and physical health and our relationships.

Bill was first exposed to this psycho-spiritual approach to healing in his MAPS/California Institute of Integral Studies training on working with MDMA for PTSD. People who have suffered trauma spontaneously work with and talk about their parts during therapeutic MDMA sessions.  IFS  made intuitive sense to Bill and catalyzed his own work of self-transformation. He also found it immediately helpful for helping clients make peace with parts of them that have made it hard to take good care of themselves by doing the things that improve function, decrease pain or simply move their life forward.

Some significant portion of the physical or emotional pain  a person experiences is due to phenomenon involving parts. Sometimes a part can cause a pain to achieve an end (usually avoiding some kind of pain!). Even more often, a part or parts of the psyche can magnify a pain by giving it a meaning (its my fault! It means I am bad!....) The behavior of these pain producing or exacerbating parts is always driven by a burden. These burdens can include meaning given to an event or limiting beliefs. These parts can be healed and unburdened, sometimes giving significant relief.

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