The Pattern System

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The Pattern System: A Periodic Table for Psychology
Jay Earley, Ph.D.
Do you wonder…

> Why do my partner and I get into so many fights?
> Why is my partner acting that way?
> What is going on to keep me stuck in life?
> What am I doing to turn people off?
> Why am I attracted to the wrong people?
> How can I understand my personality?

The Pattern System is a breakthrough in understanding your personality that is oriented toward psychological healing and personal growth. It also helps you to understand other people—why they respond as they do, what makes them tick.

Once your have understood the Pattern System and explored yourself according to its model, you will come away with a comprehensive map of your psyche. You will be able to see your strengths and your defenses, your places of pain and how you compensate for them. You will understand the structure of your inner conflicts and see the leading edge of your growth.

If you are a therapist, coach, or other professional, do you ask yourself…

> How can I understand my clients’ personalities in a fuller way?
> Why is that client’s therapy not moving?
> What is going on in my relationship with that client?
> What is the primary issue for that client?
> What are the psychodynamics underlying that behavior?

The Pattern System: A Periodic Table for Psychology can help you answer these questions. You can fully understand your clients’ personality patterns—not just their “type” but the detailed structure of their psychology.

The Pattern System doesn’t just focus narrowly on psychopathology. It doesn’t even just focus on dysfunctional patterns. It also helps you to understand functional behavior and healthy capacities. This means that you can see your strengths and those capacities you need to develop to reach your personal goals.

The Pattern System is different from the usual systems of character types, such as the Enneagram or the DISC, because these systems attempt to capture a person’s entire character in one type, even though they do allow for somewhat more complexity. The Pattern System recognizes and reflects the complexity of the human psyche. In the Pattern System, each dysfunctional pattern and healthy capacity describes just one aspect of a client’s personality, and each person will have many of them. In fact, the richness of the Pattern System fosters an attitude of looking deeply in order to understand the uniqueness and multifaceted features of each individual’s personality.

One of the important aspects of the Pattern System is that a person’s profile can change over time. In fact, the distinction between problematic patterns and healthy capacities gives you explicit information about those aspects of the psyche that can change through therapy, coaching, or other personal growth work—specifically how patterns can be transformed into capacities.

The Pattern System is potent for psychological healing and personal growth when integrated with Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS). IFS is a highly effective form of individual psychotherapy that I use in my practice as a psychotherapist and have written extensively about. Self-Therapy Journey is an online tool that integrates the Pattern System with IFS; you can use it for both deep psychological healing and behavior change.

However, the Pattern System is not limited to being used with IFS. It is compatible with a wide range of other therapeutic, coaching, and personal growth approaches. This is especially true because the Pattern System makes very few assumptions about the underlying nature of human psychology, so it meshes well with many different psychological theories.


The Pattern System is an essential coaching asset, especially when I’m puzzled about the best tack to take or a client isn’t progressing. For one client, it led a breakthrough. For another, it helped us to gracefully disengage. Jay Earley’s system complements and extends the IFS framework by adding more awareness about different kinds of parts and how they organize. How “patterns” can evolve to “capacities” helps me and my clients generate more hope and Self-energy.  And the sections on pattern-related transference/countertransference made me much more aware of my own parts that were challenged by certain client patterns. And, better still, helped them step back so I could work more effectively. I also appreciate Jay’s courage in using himself as a case for illustration, and creating a wiki so a broad community can continue to extend the work he’s initiated.
~Mark Hurwich, MBA, IFS Coach

Over the past 40 years I have worked with people in the fields of education, psychotherapy, and spiritual counseling. Training and diagnostic manuals in these fields focus on issues from the severe disorders to the neurosis. This point of view does not do justice to the majority of my clients and students because it looks at the world of psychological health from a place of disease.

I began looking at recurring patterns, configurations and situations that did greater justice to the human and spiritual potential of my clients.  Upon reading The Pattern System I saw much of my own thinking on paper, only in a more thorough and sophisticated way. This was a treatise that I dreamed of writing!  It moves the subject of human development from a “Newtonian” to an Einsteinian point of view.

Jay Earley’s understanding of human growth and development as following certain patterns is a very necessary counterpoint to the conventional notion based on sickness.  At last someone is steering the conversation in a much more comprehensive, holistic and complementary direction.  I am so glad that The Pattern System can find a wider audience as a book and stir the debate about how to look at psychological health and human growth.
~Franz Feige, PhD 

This is excellent stuff! I found The Pattern System clear and easy to understand and work with. Earley is pulling together a huge framework here, and the content is spot on. I’m a psychologist myself and meet individual clients on a daily basis, and it was easy for me to recognize most of the patterns in my clients as well as myself. I found the countertransference chapter to be the most interesting personally!
~Ronnie Grandell, Psychologist, Executive Coach

In my opinion the Pattern System is a rich body of work, a unique contribution to the field of psychology, and a much needed systems-oriented framework for the discipline. I find Earley’s writing persuasive, uncomplicated, and directly useful; most of the diagrams are informative, albeit plain. Overall, I enjoyed The Pattern System, learned much from the writing and would recommend it to anyone interested in personal development.
~David Bernard

Humanity has accumulated a vast array of valuable insights, derived from numerous schools of thought, regarding the complex dynamics involved in human psychology and behavior. There is a vital need for an integrative model that can, by organizing it, serve as a framework for understanding and a guide for useful application. With the innovative Pattern System, Jay Earley has made great strides toward this goal.

It provides an extensive map by which to systematically navigate as we identify areas of functioning in all arenas and at all levels of health or dysfunction, discover their underlying origins and psychological configurations, and strategically pursue development. It will prove helpful not only to therapists and coaches and their clients, but to people in all walks of life and in any situation. Moreover, it has implications for families, communities and society on a larger scale and is a prototype that can inspire and catalyze further innovation in the years to come.
~Howard Ditkoff, M.D., Coach & Consultant,