Reasons to Stay with your Original Target Part in IFS

Let’s suppose that, in your IFS work, you have chosen a protector to work on, called your target part.

As you are getting to know it, another part may emerge. You want to make a choice about whether to ask it to step aside so you can continue with your original target part or whether to switch and make the new part your target part.

You Want to Finish with the Target Part

Sometimes, at the beginning of your therapy, it can be useful to get to know many different parts and understand their positive intent for you. However, once you start working with a part, it is usually best to finish the IFS procedure for healing and transforming it. For example, Dillon started working with a certain target part, a Depressed Part, and it is important for him to overcome his depression. So when another part arose, he asked it to step aside so he could keep working with his Depressed Part. He wanted to continue the IFS process with his Depressed Part by accessing the exile it was protecting so he could transform the Depressed Part and his depression would lift. This was especially important to him because he had worked with his Depressed Part before and not completed the work. Now he wanted to get results.

You Haven’t Finished with Any Parts

If you are still in the early stages of your IFS work and you haven’t yet completed work with any of your parts, your inner system won’t realize what is possible. Your parts won’t realize that exiles can be unburdened and that protectors can let go of their roles. Your protectors may be skeptical about your ability to heal your parts until they see it happen. Your parts may feel hopeless about change and, because of this, may try to keep you from engaging in IFS work or keep you away from your exiles. Therefore, it is important to complete at least one unburdening without waiting too long. The more your parts realize that profound change is really possible, the more they will cooperate with you.

The Target Part Feels Ignored by You

Some parts don’t trust you at first. They don’t expect you to really pay attention to them—perhaps because you haven’t paid attention to them your whole life. Now that you are learning IFS, you can give them the attention they want. If your target part is upset with you for not paying attention to it, it wouldn’t be wise to switch to a different target part. This would only increase the mistrust of the original target part. Stay with it so it can experience your interest in it. This will help the part trust you.

This article is an excerpt from my book Self-Therapy, Vol. 2.


Inner Critic Phone Course: New Dates

The Inner Critic Phone Course dates have been re-scheduled to allow more people to enroll. Transforming your Inner Critic

In this course, you will learn how to work with your Inner Critics using IFS to make friends with them and then transform them.

You will learn about the 8 types of Inner Critic parts and discover which ones are the most problematic for you.

  • Perfectionist
  • Guilt-Tripper
  • Underminer
  • Destroyer
  • Conformist
  • Taskmaster
  • Inner Controller
  • Doubter

The Inner Critic Course will include reading, lecture, discussion, group exercises, and homework where you practice IFS work in pairs with other people from the class.

May 19 – June 23 (6 two-hour classes)
4:30-6:30PM pacific time (7:30-9:30PM eastern)
Cost: $250

Click here for more information or to enroll.



Transforming Your Inner Critic Webinar

The Inner Critic is the part of you that judges you, pushes you, and undermines your self-confidence.

It can make you feel worthless, ashamed, guilty, depressed, or inadequate.

Actually, you probably have more than one Inner Critic part, each of which judges you for something different or in a different way. Bonnie Weiss and I have studied how to best work with these difficult parts using IFS in order to transform them into inner allies.

Inner Critic Webinar

These Inner Critic parts aren’t quite what they seem to be. They are actually trying to help and protect you even though their effect is to harm you. In this webinar, I will discuss how to work with your Inner Critics using IFS to make friends with them and then transform them.

You will learn about other parts that arise along with the Inner Critic–the Criticized Child, which is hurt by the Critic, and the Inner Defender, which fights the Critic, and the Inner Rebel, which defies the Critic.

You will learn about the seven types of Inner Critic parts and discover which ones are the most harmful to you.

You will discover how to develop your Inner Champion, which is the healthy part of you that can support and encourage you in the face of Inner Critic attacks.

Tuesday, Jan. 20
4:30-6:30 PM pacific time (7:30-9:30 PM eastern)

Click and Register for the Self-Therapy Journey Webinar


This will be followed by a 6-week telephone course on Inner Critics, starting on Feb. 3.

A Story of the Depressed Pattern

This is the story of one person with the Depressed Pattern.

Ginger felt listless and low energy. She was feeling lethargic and it was hard for her to do anything because her life seemed hopeless. It was difficult for her to get up the energy to do more than minimal tasks around the house.

She had a good, well-Image of a depressed womanpaying job, but she lost it when the economy crashed. Then six months later her mother died. This was too much; it threw her into a deep depression that lasted for over a year.

Ginger reached out to friends less and less, and even when she was with them, she was withdrawn and down. So she became more and more isolated and alone. This increased her sense of hopelessness and bleakness. She felt dead inside.

She came to believe that this was her lot because there was something deeply wrong with her. She couldn’t say what it was, but she just felt like she was a loser and so, of course, she had no friends and couldn’t find a job.

Though she had enough money at the moment, she knew it wouldn’t last too long, so she had to do something to find employment. She continually told herself that she had to work on her resume, do networking, apply for openings, but she couldn’t even start on these tasks. A part of her felt that there was no point in trying because nothing was going to work. She sunk deeper into misery and sloth.

Overcoming depression, a continuation of Ginger’s story.

Self-Therapy Journey contains a module for overcoming depression.

The Destroyer Inner Critic

Destroyer Inner CriticThe Destroyer Inner Critic is one of the seven types of Critics. It makes pervasive attacks on your fundamental self-worth. It shames you in such a deep way that you feel intrinsically flawed. You believe you cannot be redeemed. The Destroyer launches very primitive attacks on you that may not even have much content. Your Destroyer may not communicate in words but rather in body feelings of shame and depression.

Your Destroyer Critic may make you feel that you don’t deserve to exist. It may try to destroy or annihilate you. It may cause you to feel very depressed and hopeless about yourself and your life.

The Destroyer is the most harmful and debilitating of all the types of Inner Critics. It usually originates very early in your life, often from the first year or two when you didn’t have much in the way of words available.

However, like all protectors, the Destroyer Critic is actually trying to protect you either from underlying pain or from what it perceives as attacks from other people. It is stuck in the past and doesn’t realize that you aren’t in danger now and you could handle the underlying pain better than its attacks. So, using IFS, you can get to know your Destroyer and develop a trusting relationship with it rather than fighting with it. This allows you to ultimately heal the exiles it is protecting and transform it.

For a detailed story of someone with a Destroyer, look at our book, Freedom from Your Inner Critic.

Self-Therapy Journey, my interactive online tool, has a module for working on the Destroyer. Click here to learn more about it.

Read more about taking an Inner Critic quiz, click here.

The Depressed Pattern: Volunteers Needed to Test Applicaiton

When your Depressed Pattern is triggered, you may feel hopeless and low energy.

Your natural buoyancy, spark, and energy is literally depressed. You may feel lethargic and believe that there is no point in doing anything because your life seems hopeless. It may be difficult to get up the energy to do much of anything other than go through the motions of your life. You may have little appetite and have difficulty sleeping.

You may isolate yourself from most people because you don’t see any point in trying to relate to them. Of course, this often contributes to the sense of bleakness in your life. Your inner landscape may feel empty and gray with no life. You may feel sadness and grief, or you may just feel dead inside. You might also feel anxious and agitated.

You may also feel bad about yourself. You may feel that your life is hopeless because there is something intrinsically wrong with you. You are worthless or inadequate and that’s why your life can’t work. You believe that you are deeply flawed. You carry much pain about this, though the pain may be buried behind the bleakness.

For the last three years, I have been developing a web application, Self-Therapy Journey, where people can get help in transforming psychological problems. It is like an interactive self-help book, based on the Pattern System and IFS. It should be ready to launch by Nov.

Right now we are looking for people who have one of two very specific issues to volunteer in trying it out. We are looking for people who either (1) are depressed, or (2) are overly critical of themselves about eating issues. (click here for eating issues). (Later we will be looking for volunteers on other issues.)

You will be able to learn about your Depressed Pattern, its underlying motivation, and where it comes from in your past. You will get a customized report about all these things based on what you enter in the application, which means that you can also use this application for guided journaling. You will also be able to set up a life practice to activate the healthy capacity to replace your pattern. That would be Aliveness (for the Depressed Pattern) The application will provide you with online support in carrying out the practice.

If you are interested in volunteering, email me at Let me know (1) your phone number, (2) what time zone you are in, and (3) which of the two patterns you want to work on. We want to try out the application on a variety of different people, so please also let me know (4) if you are a therapist and (5) whether you are familiar with IFS.

We may have more volunteers than we can use, so you may not hear from us for a while, but we nonetheless appreciate your volunteering.

For more information about the Pattern System, please visit