How to Safely Work with Exiles

Working with ExilesWhen working with childhood wounds, there are two dangers. One is that you will be flooded with pain; the other is that you will avoid the exile because you are afraid of the pain being too excruciating. Exiles want to be heard and healed, but they usually try to be heard by flooding you with their feelings, which means blending with you. This is all they know.

Blending

Blending can be frightening because it draws you into the exile’s vortex of helplessness, and you might become increasingly buried in the pain or chaos. The intensity of reliving a trauma in this way could actually be harmful, and, if this begins to happen, protectors will usually react by stepping in and blocking access to the exile. Keeping you from this suffering has been their job for years, so they will react automatically. You will find yourself going numb or spacing out; you might become distracted or angry. These and other reactions all come from protectors that are afraid of the pain, and for good reason; it really might be difficult for you to cope with.

Exploring an Exile’s Pain

IFS has discovered a way to explore an exile’s pain safely. You stay in Self and relate to the exile; you don’t become the exile. If you merged with the exile and lost contact with the Self, the pain really could be overwhelming. However, the Self, when it is differentiated and separate from the exile, can deal with anything. When in Self, you sit in a calm, grounded place, and therefore you aren’t threatened by pain and trauma. If you start to be overpowered by the exile’s emotions, which means that the part is blending with Self, IFS has effective techniques for unblending and returning you to a grounded place.

This approach is workable because, in most cases, it isn’t necessary for you to directly feel all of the exile’s pain. IFS has discovered that emotional understanding is usually enough to set the stage for the rest of the healing steps.

Benefits

There are a number of benefits to this approach. Besides avoiding being re-traumatized, you aren’t confronted with an armory of defenses to keep you from the exile. Since you aren’t threatened by the exile’s pain, protectors don’t feel the need to interrupt the process. This saves time, and sometimes it is the only way to work with an exile because, otherwise, protectors continually throw up obstacles and may permanently block the process.  Furthermore, by remaining in Self, you can be a compassionate witness to the exile’s pain and the agent of healing and transformation for the exile. In addition, from Self, you have the perspective to direct your own therapy process successfully.

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 earley.jay@gmail.com

IFS Exiles Course

Mondays
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

 

 

 

 

 

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)
Free
Click here for more information or to register

Click here for more information on the Advanced IFS Classes.

Advanced IFS Classes

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)
Free
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)
Free
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

Fall Schedule of Seminars, Classes, & Groups

Fall Schedule of Seminars, Classes, & GroupsBelow is the Fall Schedule of Seminars, Classes, and groups.

Free Introductory Seminars and Groups, by Videoconference

Transforming Your Inner Critic using IFS: Introductory Webinar
Jay Earley, PhD
Monday, Sept. 11
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)
Free
Click here for more information or to register

Drop-In Interactive/IFS Group
Jay Earley, PhD
Tuesday, Sept. 12
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)
Free
Click here for more information or to register

Advanced IFS Classes: Introductory Webinar
Jay Earley, PhD
Tuesday, Sept. 19
11am – 12 noon pacific time (2-3 pm eastern)
Free
Click here for more information or to register

Videoconference Courses

Transforming Your Inner Critic using IFS
Jay Earley, PhD
Mondays, 4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)
Sept. 25, Oct. 2, 16, 23, 30, Nov. 13
Cost: $300, $250 if you enroll by Sept. 18
Click here  to enroll

Ongoing Videoconference Groups and Classes

Advanced Ongoing IFS Classes
Jay Earley, PhD
$50/session, $100/month
Email Jay at earley.jay@gmail.com for a free interview about joining a class.

Class 1: First and third Wednesdays of each month
For therapists and coaches
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)

Class 2: Second and fourth Wednesdays of each month
For anyone
4:15-6:15 pm pacific time (7:15-9:15 eastern)

Class 3: Second and fourth Tuesdays of each month
For therapists and coaches
9:30-11:30 am pacific time (12:30-2:30 eastern, 5:30-7:30 UK)

Interactive/IFS Groups
Jay Earley, PhD
$120/month, including consultations
Email Jay at earley.jay@gmail.com for a free pre-group interview

Group 1: Regular Interactive Group
First and third Tuesdays of each month
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 pm eastern)

Group 2: Interactive Therapist’s Group
Second and fourth Wednesdays of each month
10am- 12 noon pacific time (1-3 pm eastern, 6-8 pm UK)

 

IFS Classes and Groups

I offer a variety of classes and groups based on IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy), which are summarized below.

The groups and classes meet by videoconference, so we all can see each other, which enhances the group connection. They meet twice a month, and members of the groups meet with me for an individual consultation on the group every 3 months. Each meeting is recorded, so if you miss one, you can watch the recording.

Advanced IFS Classes

In my Advanced IFS Classes, you learn intermediate and advanced techniques and understandings that go beyond what I teach in the Basic and Exiles Courses. I lead demonstration IFS sessions with volunteers from the class, and you practice with each other in pairs for homework. In addition, the whole group works together on important psychological issues such as procrastination, the inner critic, depression, eating issues, and more. There are separate classes for therapists/coaches, which include advanced training and consultation on IFS.

If you are new to IFS, you can take my recorded Basic IFS Class (make sure to do the homework, preferably with a partner) and then join one of these classes.

There are three different classes, each of which is $50/session, $100/month.

Class 1:
First and third Wednesdays of each month
For therapists and coaches
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)

Class 2:
Second and fourth Wednesdays of each month
For anyone
4:15-6:15 pm pacific time (7:15-9:15 eastern)

Class 3:
Second and fourth Tuesdays of each month
For therapists and coaches
9:30-11:30 am pacific time (12:30-2:30 eastern, 5:30-7:30 UK)

Click here for detailed information, topics covered, and how to join.

Interactive/IFS Groups 

An Interactive/IFS Group can help you . . .

  • Develop your capacity for intimacy and learn how to make a love relationship work
  • Become more assertive
  • Become more outgoing and socially comfortable
  • Learn what you may be doing to keep your relationships from being satisfying
  • Understand and trust people of the opposite sex . . . or of the same sex
  • Learn how to deal with anger and conflict constructively
  • Become part of a loving community of people
  • Raise your self-esteem
  • Get in touch with your personal power

You can learn these relationship skills:

  • Being in touch with your feelings and expressing them
  • Speaking for your parts, not acting them out
  • Reaching out to others confidently
  • Saying ”No” firmly
  • Allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable
  • Expressing yourself forcefully and spontaneously
  • Being comfortable relating to a group of people
  • Asking for what you really want
  • Having the courage to bring up difficult issues
  • Empathizing with others 

What Happens

  • You work directly on how you are relating to the other group members . . . in the moment. Instead of just talking about how you relate in your life, you practice interacting with others right in the group and get help as you do.
  • You get direct and honest feedback on how people are reacting to you.
  • The group provides a safe place for you to try out new, healthy ways of relating to people.
  • You learn how to feel your emotional responses and identify the parts that are activated while interacting with people
  • You learn how communicate openly, clearly, and assertively.
  • You learn how to access and work with the parts of you that get triggered in interactions with people, using IFS.
  • You see other people struggling with problems similar to yours, and through this you learn about yourself and others.
  • There is a strong sense of support for each person and a warm feeling of community in the group.

There are two different groups, each of which is $60/meeting, $120/month, including consultations.

Group 1:
For anyone
First and third Tuesdays of each month
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 pm eastern)

Group 2:
For therapists and coaches
Second and fourth Wednesdays of each month
10am- 12 noon pacific time (1-3 pm eastern, 6-8 pm UK)

Click here for more information.

Email me at earley.jay@gmail.com for a free pre-group interview

 

The IFS View of the Human Psyche

IFS provides a new and startling view of the human psyche. It sees human beings as complex systems of interacting “parts,” which are natural divisions of the personality. Suppose one part of you is trying to lose weight, and another part wants to wolf down a ton of sweets. When you crave that piece of cake late at night, it isn’t just a desire that comes up from time to time. There is an entity inside you that repeatedly needs a sense of sweet fullness. It has reasons why it feels it must have that dessert. It might need to push down anger or fill an unbearable sensation of emptiness. This part has memories that drive these needs—for example, feeling emotionally hungry as a child.

You may hear a different inner voice saying “Eat a piece of celery instead,” or “You should be a shamed of how you gorged yourself!” You may think of these as just thoughts that pop up, but they come from another part of you whose job is to control your eating. It could be concerned with your waistline or your health. It might believe that you won’t be loved if you aren’t thin. And it may have memories of being ridiculed for being overweight in grade school.

But these are simple concepts that only begin to touch on the richness and complexity of our inner life. Our inner family may include a lonely baby, a wise mentor, an angry child, a stern mother, a calm meditator, a magician, a happy animal, a closed-off protector, and so on.

The IFS View of the Human Psyche

These parts inside us are frequently shifting and changing. One of them takes over for a while, and we act and feel a certain way. Then we enter a new situation, and another character comes to the fore. Usually we view these changes as no more than slight shifts in mood or perspective, but, in fact, each shift marks the emergence of an entirely new subpersonality.

Each part gets activated at certain times. When I am in a large group of strangers, a part of me feels shy and wants to withdraw. When a supervisor criticizes you, a part of you may be thrown off balance and feel utterly incompetent. When Jill’s husband acts arrogant, a part of her wants to strangle him. When you get rejected by a lover, a part of you may feel devastated, like an abandoned child. When you feel threatened by a powerful person, a headache may come on because a part is clamping down on the muscles in your head to defend against terror. Any feeling reaction, thought sequence, behavior pattern, or body sensation can indicate the presence of a part.

Some of our parts are in pain, and others want to protect us from feeling that pain. Some try to manage how we interact with people. Some are locked in battles with each other. And all this is going on largely outside our awareness. All we know is that sometimes we feel content and sometimes we are anxious, depressed, frustrated, or confused, and we don’t know why.

Underlying this cast of characters, every human being has a true Self that is wise, deep, open, and loving. This is who we truly are when we aren’t being hijacked by painful or defensive voices. The Self is the key to healing and integrating our disparate parts through its compassion, curiosity, and connectedness. It is also the natural leader of our inner family, a guide through the adventures of life.

IFS can help you access your Self, and from that place of strength and love you can connect with your troubled parts and heal them. Your parts are naturally endowed with qualities such as joy, freedom, perceptiveness, and creativity, but these have been lost because of childhood wounds. The Self can help heal these wounds and allow these parts to reclaim their natural strengths and goodness. They can come to trust you to lead, if you do it from Self. They can learn to work together with each other as a harmonious inner family that supports your flowering in the world.

When you really understand this view of the psyche, you see yourself in a whole new light. You perceive your depth and beauty. You reclaim your true nature as a garden of healthy, effective, vital plants growing in the deep, rich soil of the Self.

 

The Seat of Consciousness in IFS

We each have a place in our psyche that determines our identity, choices, feelings, and perceptions. Using IFS terminology, this seat can be occupied by Self or by a part. Whoever resides in the seat of consciousness at any given moment is in charge of our psyche at that time. Whether it is a part or the Self, the occupant of the seat determines how we feel, what our intentions are, how we perceive other people, how we relate to them, and what our choices and actions will be. At any given moment, all activated parts have some influence over you, but the occupant of the seat of consciousness has the overriding influence. It determines your dominant emotion and your actions.

We aren’t necessarily aware of the occupant of our seat of consciousness at any given time. In fact, it tends to be invisible to us because it is the one who looks at other things. The occupant of the seat of consciousness is the one who is aware or conscious. We take it to be ourselves. It is the observer, or witness, and it wields the flashlight of consciousness. We are conscious of whichever part is illuminated by this flashlight, but it rarely gets pointed back toward the one who holds it. So we tend not to be aware of the witness. The witness sees but is not seen.

Ideally the Self is the occupant of the seat of consciousness.

The Self is the natural occupant of the seat of consciousness because it is who we truly are. It is our essential nature, our spiritual center. This means that the Self occupies the seat of consciousness unless a part takes over the seat and pushes the Self into the background. Then that part is in charge of your psyche for a while. This can happen in an instant and usually without our realizing it. However, as you will learn later, if you pay close attention, you can notice the shift and work with it. If the part steps aside, the Self will automatically occupy the seat of consciousness again.

At any given moment, you are identified with the occupant of the seat of consciousness. If the Self is in the seat, you are identified with Self. If a part has taken over the seat, you are identified with that part; that is who you take yourself to be in that moment. We don’t usually notice these shifts in identity; we think we are always the same unitary personality. However, they happen all the time, and IFS will help you become aware of them.

Self-Therapy

 

This is an excerpt from my book Self-Therapy