Basic IFS Course Starts October 15

Basic IFS CourseThere is a new start date for the Basic IFS Course: Oct. 15

The Basic IFS Course was originally scheduled to start on September 17. I have put off the start of this course for a few weeks to allow more people to enroll. It will now start on October 8.

This course will teach you how to use Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) to resolve psychological issues and heal underlying pain from the past, to enhance your self-confidence and well-being. IFS is a powerful, user friendly method of psychotherapy and personal growth work. IFS is a recognized, proven method for individual psychotherapy with a robust training program and thousands of certified therapists. It will help transform stuck parts of yourself into inner resources of strength, love, and freedom.

This course teaches you how to access Self (that core aspect of you that can heal your parts) and work with protectors (parts that defend us from pain and danger). It is the most basic course on IFS. It teaches you how to work on yourself using IFS and how to do peer IFS counseling with other people in the class. Therapists and coaches also take the class to learn about IFS, though it is not professional training in IFS.

The course is experiential; it includes practicing IFS sessions for homework in pairs, group exercises, and demonstration IFS sessions with volunteers from the class.

The text for the course is my book, Self-Therapy.

The course will be taught by videoconference, so we can see each other, which enhances the group connection, making it safe for you to be open and vulnerable in class. Each class is recorded, so you can watch the recording of any class you miss.

Tuesdays
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 pm eastern)
Oct. 15 – Nov. 19, 2019 (6 classes)
$300 ($250 if paid by Oct. 9)
Click here to enroll.

Conscious Blending in IFS

What is Conscious Blending

Normally, in IFS you must not be blended with a part when you work with it. There is an exception to the need for unblending with exiles. Sometimes it is all right to feel an exile’s pain. If you don’t feel thrown off by the experience and it doesn’t keep you from being grounded, you can allow yourself to experience it. In fact, sometimes it will feel right to you to sense this pain. And the exile may want you to experience her directly because this helps her to feel fully witnessed by you.

Experiencing the Exile’s Pain

Experiencing the exile’s pain in this way means that you are simultaneously in Self and consciously blended with the exile. The exile is showing you her emotion by having you feel it. That is fine as long as you can tolerate this experience and you remain centered and able to be there for the exile, and as long as this doesn’t trigger any protectors. Often it is all right to experience the exile’s suffering up to a certain limit. Let her know if it gets to be too much and ask her to contain the rest.

In some cases, you may be able to feel the pain fully and even express it. You will know how far you can go in this direction. This approach is similar to some cathartic therapy methods. However, in IFS, we only move in this direction if it is both safe and productive.

I call this conscious blending because you are aware that you are blended and are purposely choosing to allow it. This is very different from being blended without realizing it or being overwhelmed emotionally. By blending consciously, you know that, even while you experience the exile’s emotions, you are grounded in a presence (Self) that is much larger and stronger than she. This gives you the opportunity to titrate how much of her pain you take on.

This an excerpt from my book Self-Therapy.

Self-Therapy

New Date: IFS Basic Course Starts April 16

Introduction to IFSThis course is the beginning of learning IFS. It teaches you how to access Self and work with protectors. It teaches you how to work on yourself using IFS and how to do peer IFS counseling with other people in the class. Therapists and coaches also take the class to learn about IFS, though it is not professional training in IFS.

The course is experiential; it includes practicing IFS sessions for homework in pairs, group exercises, and demonstration IFS sessions with volunteers from the class.

I have postponed the beginning of the course until April 16 to allow more people to enroll.

For more information, click https://personal-growth-programs.com/ifs-courses/basic-course

Tuesdays
April 16 – May 21 (6 classes)
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 pm eastern)
Cost: $300, $250 if paid by April 10
Click here to enroll

After You Have Obtained Permission to Work with an Exile

When you want to work with an exile, the first thing you do is to obtain permission from the target protector, are you free to work with the exile?

That depends on whether there are other protectors that feel this exile is dangerous. Often you can simply move on to working with the exile, but it would be wise to deal with any additional resistance now. Otherwise, these protectors will repeatedly interrupt your work with the exile.

Therefore, if it seems called for, ask if there are any other protectors that don’t want you to access the exile. Usually they will step forward, and you can ask about their fears and reassure them, just as you did with the primary protector. This will usually clear the way for uninterrupted work with the exile.

However, sometimes protectors pop up later. While you are working with the exile, if a protector feels threatened by the pain that is coming up from the exile, it may reactivate to block that pain. You may get sleepy or distracted. You may go into your head or get angry. Use your parts-detecting ability to recognize when such a protector has been triggered. If it is the same protector that has already given you permission, ask what happened in your work with the exile to make it change its mind. Usually it’s because the pain of the exile started to emerge in an intense way. Find out what it is afraid of now and reassure it about that fear.

If it is a new protector that you haven’t gotten permission from or haven’t worked with before, you may need to spend some time with this protector, getting to know it and its positive intent. Then ask its permission to go on with your work with the exile.

Sometimes, if an exile’s pain is threatening to overwhelm you, a protector will keep jumping in to stop this from happening, and no amount of reassurance will work. Then you must negotiate with the exile about unblending even before you ask the protector for permission. Once the protector sees that the exile has agreed not to flood you, it will probably give the go-ahead.

Metabolizing Childhood Experiences

Whenever you endure a painful or difficult experience, it must be fully processed and metabolized for your psyche to stay healthy. You must fully feel the experience, make sense of it, and integrate it into your notion of who you are in a way that doesn’t leave you with a negative, inaccurate view of yourself. Even experiences in adult life must be metabolized in this way. For example, suppose you lose your spouse to cancer. You need to feel the grief and other emotions that it brings up, think it through, discuss it with friends, and work through any guilt or self-blame that you feel. This will occur repeatedly over many months until you have come to terms with it.

Experiences

Threatening or Traumatic Experience

A threatening or traumatic experience puts your body into a fight-or-flight stress reaction. For example, suppose you are threatened with a gun by a robber. Your body goes into hyper-alertness and fear. Later, when you talk through what happened and feel the fear, this will help your body to complete its physiological response and return to a normal relaxed state.

Difficult Experience

A difficult experience can also make you feel bad about yourself or mistrust people. For example, suppose you are fired from your job for poor work performance. This makes you feel incompetent and, after stewing over it for a while, you come to believe that the world is unfair. You need to take the time to think this through with outside support and figure out what, if anything, you did poorly and how much of this resulted from office politics. This will help you integrate the experience into your psyche and sense of self, and learn from your mistakes without taking on a negative view of yourself.

Problematic Experience

When you have a problematic experience as an adult, you usually have the resources to metabolize it properly. You know how to articulate the problem, you are intellectually and emotionally mature, and you may have support from friends, family, or a therapist. As a child, you often don’t have the resources to metabolize difficult incidents. You can’t do it on your own, so you need a great deal of sensitive support from your parents or other adults. The more painful and traumatic an experience, the more you need support to be able to metabolize it. And this support often isn’t available, either because your parents don’t realize you need it or because they don’t have the capacity to provide it. Or, worst of all, because your parents were the source of the traumatic incident.

Burden for the Exile

An experience that isn’t metabolized creates a burden for the exile that experienced it. In order to heal that child part and help release its burden, the memory must be re-experienced and processed to completion. Having the experience witnessed by the Self is an important aspect of this.

What Is Required for Unburdening to Succeed

What Is Required for Unburdening to Succeed

When the unburdening ritual is described, many people think:

“Can it really be this easy to change a long-standing pattern of behavior or feeling? I can’t believe that all you have to do is have a fantasy of letting go of the pain. It can’t be that easy.”

And, of course, it’s not. The unburdening ritual doesn’t achieve transformation all by itself; it only caps off the process. All the previous steps in the process are necessary and must be completed before the unburdening ritual will have the desired effect. You must work with the protector(s) to obtain unimpeded access to the exile. You must develop a trusting connection with the exile and witness the original childhood incident. She must feel understood by you. You must reparent her and, if necessary, retrieve her. And the exile must be ready to release the burden. Only after all this has been accomplished can the unburdening ritual work. This ritual is really the culmination of this entire sequence of steps; it solidifies the whole IFS transformation process.

In addition, you must do the entire sequence of healing steps for each exile and each important painful memory. When you carry out the unburdening ritual, it is for a specific memory and the burdens that came from it, not for every burden that exile might be carrying. The exile releases the burdens specific to that memory, which effects a certain amount of transformation. However, if the exile carries other burdens related to other memories, its healing won’t be complete until they are also processed and released. You must go through the healing steps for each important memory the exile carries.

Furthermore, when these are complete, that particular exile will be transformed, but there will be other exiles that must be treated separately. IFS is efficient and powerful, but it isn’t a quick and easy cure-all. You must take the time and energy to do the hard work of witnessing each important memory and healing each exile. You must follow up with the exile over the next few weeks after the session to consolidate the unburdening. It is helpful to check in with the exile every day or so to reaffirm your connection with her. If you don’t do this, the burden may return. Burdens can return for a variety of reasons.

Therefore, in the session after an unburdening, make sure to re-access the exile and check to see if the burden is still gone and the exile has really been transformed. If so, take a moment to enjoy the sense of freedom and the positive qualities of the transformed exile and to celebrate what happened.

If the burden has come back, explore to see why that happened. Usually it is because your internal system wasn’t fully ready for the unburdening. Ask your parts questions to find out why the burden came back; then address that issue in one of the ways you already know. Then do the unburdening again, and it should stick.

Even when an exile is truly unburdened, more is often needed to change a behavior pattern. After unburdening the exile, you must go back to the protector you started with and help it to let go of its protective role. Then your problematic behavior will shift.

This is an excerpt from my book, Self-Therapy. It is also one of the topics covered in my Advanced IFS Classes.

 

Asking Permission to work with an Exile

Permission to Work with Exile

Permission to Work with Exile

Let’s assume that you have been getting to know a protector and developing a trusting relationship with it. Once you are aware of the exile that it is protecting, ask permission from the protector to get to know this child part.

You may receive an explicit yes or no. Or you may just sense that your way to the exile is clear or that it is blocked. Or the exile may suddenly emerge into consciousness, indicating that you have permission.

Once you get permission, it may be a good idea to check if there are any other protectors that object to your contacting this exile so you can get their permission, too. If you don’t get permission, you ask the protector what it is afraid would happen if it gave permission, and then reassure it about its fears.

The Cooperative Approach

This step highlights a major advantage of using IFS—its cooperative approach. Let’s consider a situation where your heart is contracted to keep you from feeling the pain of being rejected by a lover. In many forms of therapy, you would focus on the contraction and try to get your heart to open so you could feel the underlying hurt and thereby heal it. But this means fighting against the part of yourself that is contracted, which is a protector. This part believes that it must keep contracted so you don’t feel this intense pain. Turning it into an adversary usually backfires.

The more you try to get past the contraction, the more it fights you. And if you do manage to break through this protector, you may accomplish a dramatic, cathartic healing, but the contracted protector is likely to reconstitute itself soon afterward because you didn’t respect it and get its buy-in.

Two Parts Involved

There is a powerful advantage to understanding that there are two parts involved. Though the protector is keeping you from the pain, it may not realize that there is an exile that is already feeling the pain. It may think it is actually preventing the pain from existing at all rather than preventing you from feeling what the exile is already experiencing.

Using IFS

Using IFS, you don’t try to break through the protection; you don’t even ask the contraction to let go. Instead, you make it clear to the protector that the exile is already in pain, and you just ask permission to work with the exile so you can relieve it of the pain that exists. This way the protector feels you are trying to help rather than to cause pain, so it is much more likely to agree.

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.

 

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.

Format

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)
Free
Click here for more information or to register

Click here for more information on the Advanced IFS Classes.

Advanced IFS Classes