Inner Caretaker Parts

BK001-Self Therapy-aThis article is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Self-Therapy, Vol 2.

An Inner Caretaker is a part that is overly invested in caring for your exiles. It is often a Self-like part, which means that you believe you are in Self even though you are blended with the part.

Since it is important and natural for Self to care for your exiles, it is easy to get fooled when an Inner Caretaker is blended with you. You might ask: What could possibly be wrong with caring for my exiles? Why do you say that caretaking isn’t coming from Self? How can I distinguish between Self and an Inner Caretaker? Here’s how.

When you are in the witnessing step (Chapter 12 of Self-Therapy), it is important to fully witness what happened in childhood to cause an exile’s pain. This opens up the exile for healing in the subsequent steps of the IFS process. However, sometimes a Caretaking Part steps in to care for the exile before the witnessing is complete, even sometimes before the witnessing has really begun.

Let’s see how this might happen. Janie was working with an exile who was deprived of the love and caring it needed. She accessed this Deprived Exile and asked it to show her how it was deprived in childhood. The exile began to show Janie how her mother was cold and distant. Then Janie jumped in and immediately started holding and nurturing the exile before she had understood the ways that the exile was deprived and especially before she had really felt its pain.

An exile does need to feel your compassion during witnessing, and it is often a good idea to directly convey your caring and compassion to the exile so it feels safe to open up to you.

Sometimes the exile may even need some direct nurturing to help it feel safe and connected to you before proceeding with the witnessing. However, this caring should not happen instead of witnessing. Janie’s Inner Caretaker jumped in to begin reparenting before the witnessing was complete. As a result, the witnessing didn’t fully happen and therefore the Deprived Exile wasn’t fully open for the reparenting, retrieval, and unburdening to follow. Therefore, it wasn’t fully healed.

Once you have expressed your caring for an exile and it feels good with you, then ask it questions so you can understand what happened to it in childhood and witness its pain. Don’t move on to reparenting until the exile has shown you all it needs to show you about its pain and the origins of its wounds. If you want to nurture the exile instead of witnessing its pain, then you are probably blended with an Inner Caretaker which can’t tolerate the exile’s pain and needs to take it away. This is not Self but a Self-Like Part.

This can also happen in the reparenting step (Chapter 13 of Self-Therapy). Once you (in Self) have gone back in your imagination and entered the original scene where the exile was wounded, you ask the exile what it needs from you for healing. However, sometimes you may start nurturing the exile without waiting to find out what it actually needs for healing. This would also be coming from a Self-Like Inner Caretaker, not from Self. This can result in misdirected reparenting, where you give the exile what you think it needs, not what the exile actually needs for healing.