How to Discover the Exile Being Protected

Discover the Exile Being ProtectedLet’s assume that you are working with a protector and you have gotten to know it, discovered its positive intent, and developed a trusting relationship with it. Your next step will be to get the protector’s permission to work with the exile it is protecting. But first you must recognize which exile the protector is guarding.

There are a number of ways to do this.

Sometimes the emotions of the exile come up while you are working with the protector. For example, you are talking with a protector that feels it must always be right. As you are getting to know it, you begin to feel a hurt feeling in your chest. This is probably coming from the exile that is being protected.

Sometimes you hear the voice of the exile. For example, while you are talking with a protector, you hear a voice that says, “I feel so alone and left out.” That doesn’t sound like the protector, so it is probably the exile.

Sometimes you get an image of the exile behind or below the image of the protector, or you see their relationship in some other way. For example, suppose you have a protector that keeps you overly busy so you don’t feel the pain of an exile who is a lost little girl in the dark. You might visualize the little girl partially hidden behind the busy protector.

You have asked the protector what it is afraid would happen if it didn’t perform its role. This answer frequently points toward the exile because the reason the protector is there is to guard the exile. For example, if the protector says it is afraid you will feel hurt or scared or lonely, it is probably protecting an exile that feels one of those emotions. If the protector says it is afraid that you will be judged or humiliated, it is probably protecting an exile that was judged or humiliated in the past.

You can ask the protector to show you the exile it is protecting. If you have built enough mutual trust, it will usually do that.


2018 – IFS Exiles Course

This January, I will be offering the IFS Exiles Course. In this course, you learn:

  • how to safely access young wounded parts (exiles),
  • how to stay in Self, how to develop a healing relationship with your exiles, and
  • how to unburden the pain and negative beliefs of exiles so they are transformed

This enables you to do a complete IFS session with yourself or a partner. You learn how to facilitate a partner who is working on themselves.

The prerequisite for this course is the IFS Basic Course or equivalent. If you aren’t sure if you qualify, contact me at

IFS Exiles Course

4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)
Jan. 8, 15, 22, 29, Feb. 5, 19 (6 classes)
Cost: $300, $250 if you enroll by Jan. 2
Click here  to enroll






Unblending from the Inner Defender

In working with an Inner Critic part using IFS, you first must unblend from the Critic and the Criticized Child. The next step, involves checking to see how you are feeling toward the Critic to determine whether or nUnblending from Inner Defenderot you are in Self with respect to it. Being genuinely open to your Inner Critic is not easy. It has been causing you pain, so it is natural for you to be angry with it. It is understandable if you judge it and want to be rid of it. However, approaching the Critic (or any part) with these attitudes won’t lead to changing it.

These attitudes aren’t coming from your Self; they are coming from another part of you that I call the Inner Defender because it wants to defend you from the Critic. Often the Inner Defender feels judgmental and angry toward the Critic. It may try to dismiss the Critic or even banish it from your psyche. But you can’t get rid of a part, and the Critic usually fights back against attempts to dismiss it.

Sometimes your Inner Defender argues with the Inner Critic. If the Critic says that you are worthless, the Defender tries to prove that you are a good person. If the Critic says you can’t succeed, the Defender argues that you can. It wants to engage with the Critic and defend your goodness and your right to be yourself. It wants to fight against being controlled by the Critic. For example, Sarah had an Inner Defender that was angry and rebellious toward her Critic and wanted to convince the Critic that she was a valuable person who could make it in the world.

While it makes sense that your Inner Defender wants to champion you, engaging with the Critic in this way usually doesn’t work. The Critic often wins the argument, or, if your Inner Defender wins for the moment, the Critic may redouble its attacks later. In addition, this approach creates inner conflict.

If your Inner Critic tells you how to behave or not behave, then you might also have an Inner Rebel. This is similar to the Inner Defender except that its concern is inner autonomy. It doesn’t want to be pushed around by an Inner Critic, so it defies the Critic. It says, “Don’t tell me what to do.” Even if the Critic’s ideas are good for you, the Inner Rebel may go against them in order to preserve its sense of personal power. This can make it difficult to follow through on disciplines needed for health, exercise, or spiritual growth.

Now let’s discuss how to unblend from the Inner Defender (or Rebel). Just as with any concerned part, you ask it to step aside so you can get to know the Critic from an open place. However, your Inner Defender may be reluctant to do this because it knows how much pain the Critic has been causing you. The way around this is to explain to the Inner Defender that the Critic is trying to help and protect you, even if you don’t yet understand how. Then ask if the Defender would be willing to step aside and allow you to get to know the Critic so you can discover its positive intent. When the Inner Defender has stepped aside, you will be open to getting to know the Critic from its perspective, which will ultimately lead to transforming it.

For more information on the Inner Critic and IFS, click here, or read the book Freedom from Your Inner Critic.


The Inner Critic and the Criticized Child

Whenever an Inner Critic part is active, there are actually two parts involved. In addition to the Critic (which is a protector), there is an exile (which I call the Criticized Child) that is receiving the Critic’s judgments, believing them, and feeling bad about itself. Or if the Critic is telling you how to behave or not behave, the Criticized Child accepts these rules and tries to live by them, no matter how constricting and harmful that is.

Here is how to access these parts using IFS. Most people access an Inner Critic part by listening to its attacking words or seeing an image of it. For example, Sarah’s Critic said that she was worthless, and she had an image of it as a huge monster.

You can also access parts through body sensations or emotions. However, when you access an Inner Critic part in this way, you might feel hurt, depressed, or hopeless—perhaps your chest is collapsed or there is a weight on your shoulders or pain in your heart. These sensations are coming from the vulnerable Criticized Child, not the Critic. If you access the Inner Critic through emotions, you might feel angry or judgmental toward yourself.

It is important to access the feelings and sensations of the Child, but don’t confuse them with those of the Critic.


New Date: Transforming Your Inner Critic using IFS Course

I have pushed back the starting date for the Inner Critic Course in order to allow more people to enroll. It will now start on Oct. 16.

In the Inner Critic Course you will:

  • Develop the grounding and strength to separate from your Critic’s message so you have room to breathe and find your center again.
  • Learn about the seven types of Inner Critic parts and which ones are problematic for you.
  • Discover that your Inner Critic is actually trying to help and protect you (even though it actually causes trouble).
  • Use IFS to transform your Critic and heal your Criticized Child to support your self-esteem and confidence.
  • Develop your Inner Champion to support you to be yourself and feel good about yourself.

Freedom from you Inner CriticFor more information on the Inner Critic, click here, or read the book Freedom from Your Inner Critic.


This Inner Critic Course consists of live sessions by videoconference where you get to interact with Jay and a small number of other participants. Since we can see each other, it allows us to really create connection and trust in the group. We will teach you how to do this powerful inner work and demonstrate it using live IFS sessions with volunteers from the class.

You will also be paired up each week with someone from the class to practice doing an IFS session on yourself with your partner witnessing and helping you.

2017 Course Dates

Mondays 4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)
Oct. 16, 23, 30, Nov. 13, 20, Dec. 4
Cost: $300, $250 if you enroll by October 9
Click here for more information or to enroll


Advanced IFS Classes: Introductory Webinar

This webinar is an introduction to my Advanced IFS Classes. I will explain how they operate, what the prerequisite is, and answer your questions.

In the Advanced IFS Classes you learn intermediate to advanced techniques and understandings that go beyond what I teach in the Basic IFS Course. Therapists also have a chance for advanced training and consultation on IFS. I have taught these classes for many years and they have been very successful.

Format. The classes meet twice a month for two hours by video-conference. Each class includes teaching, lots of sharing and discussion, demonstration IFS sessions where I work with a volunteer from the class, and experiential group exercises. You pair up with each other between classes to practice doing IFS sessions with each other. This is a very important part of the class, and people tell me how much they get from working with each other.

Each class is limited to 8 participants, so we have a small cohesive group (especially since we can see each other by video-conference), where people feel safe to be vulnerable.

The texts for the classes are my books Self-Therapy, Vol. 2 and Self-Therapy, Vol. 3.

Professionals. Some classes are for therapists and coaches (and other helping professionals) and some are for everyone. These classes are approved by the Center for Self-Leadership for IFS CE credit.

Introductory Webinar

Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017

By videoconference
11am – 12 noon pacific time (2pm – 3pm eastern)
Click here for more information or to register

Click here for more information on the Advanced IFS Classes.

Advanced IFS Classes

The Inner Critic as Enforcer

One of the main reasons our Inner Critic parts judge us is to enforce the certain kind of behavior they want from us. They may want us to be perfect, hardworking, moderate, or cautious, for example. If a Taskmaster Critic thinks it is important for you to always have your nose to the proverbial grindstone, it will push you to overwork and attack you when you don’t. However, if you are generally a conscientious, focused worker, then there isn’t so much need for a Taskmaster Critic. You might very well have a Taskmaster Part of you that works too hard, but it wouldn’t be a Critic; it would just be an overworking part.

If you have a part that follows the rules, there is little need for a Critic to enforce them. For example, if you have a Dieter part that is very careful about the food you eat, there would be no need for an Inner Controller Critic to attack you. The Dieter might be overly rigid, but if it doesn’t judge the way you eat, it’s not a Critic.

Because of the enforcer nature of Critics, one might suddenly judge you when you make a change in your life. Suppose you have been very careful about food all your adult life and have therefore never gotten any flak about your eating from a Critic. Lately you have been working on loosening up, and you are beginning to experiment with being more relaxed and less rigid about food. You might get attacked by an Inner Controller Critic about this. Until this point, it didn’t need to attack you because you were behaving in the way it wanted. Now that you are changing, it has become activated in order to enforce its view of how you should be.

Drop-In Interactive/IFS Group

Drop In IFS Interactive GroupThis drop-in group is designed to give you an idea of how Interactive/IFS Groups operate, including the Therapists Interactive/IFS Group and the regular Interactive/IFS Group.

In an Interactive/IFS Group, you can be totally honest about your feelings. Everyone is encouraged to share their moment-to-moment experience with the group. It’s a big risk but very exciting!

A small group of people meets to practice awareness, honesty, and connection. Using IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy), we practice speaking for our parts rather than as our parts. This means being in Self (a calm, caring place) and talking about how a part of you is reacting in the moment, as opposed to dumping your feelings on other people. This helps you to communicate in a more effective manner, and it also makes the group safe for everyone.

I facilitate the group, helping you to tune into what you are experiencing and speak your truth. You may tell others honestly and directly how you are feeling toward them. We create an atmosphere of caring and trust so that this can be done in a safe, connected way. You also have a chance to get honest feedback from people on how they are responding to you.

Since this is a drop-in group, you will be mainly dealing with what you go through emotionally when you are meeting new people (though my Interactive Groups are long-term ongoing groups and much more than that happens in them).

The group meets by videoconference, so we can all see each other.

Tuesday, Sept. 12
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)
Click here for more information or to register

Click here for information about my ongoing Interactive/IFS Groups.


Introductory Webinar: Transforming Your Inner Critic using IFS

Transforming Your  Inner CriticTransforming Your Inner Critic using IFS an introductory webinar on September 11, 2017.

Are you struggling with low self-esteem, depression, perfectionism, self-doubt, or inner conflict? These issues often stem from the Inner Critic, which is the part of you that judges you and makes you feel bad about yourself. You hear a voice inside that constantly berates you, doubts you, and undermines your confidence in yourself.

I have developed a comprehensive understanding of the different forms that Inner Critic parts take and how to transform them using IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy). IFS is very effective in working with Inner Critic parts when you use my Inner Critic version of the IFS model.

During this webinar you can:

  • Learn about the different forms Inner Critic parts can take
  • Understand what it takes to transform your Critic using IFS
  • Have an experience of working with your Inner Critic
  • Experience what it is like to participate in a videoconference class
  • Get a preview of the upcoming Inner Critic class
  • Meet Jay and ask any questions you have

Monday, Sept. 11
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)
Click here for more information or to register.

Feel free to register even if you can’t make that time. You will receive a recording afterwards.

Click here  for information on my upcoming Inner Critic Course

Your Inner Critic Isn’t as Powerful as It Seems

When you become aware of how an Inner Critic Part is tearing you down, you may want to ignore it, argue with it, or banish it. However, none of these approaches are effective for very long. The Inner Critic will keep popping up and attacking you. You usually can’t win an argument with a Critic. And they can’t be banished for long.

The IFS approach is much more effective. An Inner Critic part is actually an IFS protector, which means that it is trying to help you by protecting you from pain or harm. A Critic usually does this in a hurtful and distorted way, so it doesn’t really succeed in helping you, but nevertheless its heart is in the right place—it is trying to protect you. This means that you can use the IFS approach to get to know each Inner Critic and develop a trusting relationship with it, which lays the groundwork for transforming it.

If an Inner Critic seems very powerful and threatening, you may be frightened of it or devastated by its attacks. However, once you get to know a Critic using IFS, your view of it may change radically. You may realize that it is actually a frightened child part that is puffing itself up to intimidate you, but it really can’t hurt you once you see through its facade.

Let’s look an example. Sarah was very frightened of her Inner Critic. It screamed and yelled at her and crushed her with its powerful attacks. It told her that she was worthless and would never amount to anything. She called her Critic the Attacker and visualized it as a huge monster with great muscles and a loud voice that was attacking her physically.

However, when she worked with the Attacker using IFS, she became openly interested in getting to know it and discovered its positive intent. Here is what the Attacker said to Sarah:

Attacking was a game in our family. They were all doing it, so I had to do it, too, and I had to be good at it. If they were going to do that to me, then I wanted to do it to myself first so they couldn’t do it to me worse. This gave me the power of not being hurt by them. I was trying to protect this child part (which Sarah called the Scared Kid) from being hurt by them and from feeling all that hate and criticism from the family. That was too painful, so if I hurt the Scared Kid instead, it wasn’t so bad because I was the one hurting her—not the people she really wanted love from.

This information from the Attacker allowed Sarah to begin connecting with it and gave her a different image of it.

Later in the session, when the Attacker was reluctant to give up its role, I had Sarah explain that it had an impossible job trying to protect the Scared Kid. It said, “It’s hard to believe that you could help the Scared Kid when I couldn’t do it. It was my job. I had to be able to do it. I now realize that I’m just this little kid, and I’m trying to protect this other kid.”

When Sarah and I heard this sentiment, we both had tears in our eyes. The Attacker was actually a child part that was intent on protecting the Scared Kid from pain. This is so different from the way we usually think of our Critics. This understanding was moving for Sarah (as well as for me), and it made it easy for her to feel compassion and caring for the Attacker. She saw that the real Attacker had been revealed, like the little man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. And Sarah’s image of the Attacker changed. Now she saw it as a frightened girl who was doing her best to act tough to prevent a terrible tragedy.