Helping Others with Issues You Have Resolved

One of the best ways to solidify your growth is to help other people who have a similar issue. This is the cornerstone of 12-step groups. We now have three groups within our online community that help people deal with specific issues (as well as one for IFS and one for Self-Therapy Journey).

If you have resolved your own Depression, People-Pleasing, or Procrastination, these groups provide an opportunity to help others and deepen your own growth. If you have mostly worked through one of these issues, I encourage you to join one of the these online groups and contribute your wisdom and support to people who are struggling with them.

Of course, if you need help in one of these areas, I invite you to join as well.

This is a place where people share their insights and progress, ask questions, learn from other people, and find a partner for IFS or STJ work. I am available to answer questions. It is a good way to learn how to use Self-Therapy Journey and get support for your work. I send questions out to the group to stimulate discussion. Karen Locke, who is our online community manager, also participates in the group.

Click here to join and participate. You may have to register first. Then click on Groups in the top menu, and then click the group of your choice.

Do You Have A People-Pleasing Pattern?

If you have a People-Pleasing Pattern, you have a tendency to go out of your way to please people. You often try to be who other people want you to be, to agree with them, to fit in. You try to make yourself think, feel, and want the same things as others even if this doesn’t reflect your true feelings.

If you are in a relationship, a part of you may be trying to “merge” with your partner, and feel and believe the same as they do. If your partner expresses an opinion about a movie you just saw, you automatically agree. If your partner wants to go bike riding rather than hiking, you feel the same way. This process is often unconscious and involves ignoring your own opinions, feelings and needs, or distorting them so they are almost always the same as your partner’s. You just defer to their preferences, values, and goals without quite realizing you are doing it.

It is important to be able to distinguish between situations where you genuinely agree with your partner, and those where you automatically go along without even considering what you think or want.

If you frequently agree with what other people want, and they seldom go along with you, this is an indication you have the People-Pleasing Pattern. Another indication would be if people express frustration that you never seem to come up with ideas or preferences of your own, and always “follow the herd.” 

You also might go far out of your way to give people what you think they need to make them happy. Of course, there is nothing problematic about wanting to make another person happy. However, the problem arises when you do this without even considering what would make you happy, or when you try to please others at your own expense. You might even try to please people when those particular actions end up causing you hardship.

Of course, there may be special circumstances when it would be a loving gesture to sacrifice your well-being to please someone when they are in serious trouble. However, if you do this regularly, almost without fail, then you have a People-Pleasing Pattern.

The People-Pleasing Pattern is one of the patterns in the Power Dimension.

You can also learn more about it by reading Conflict, Care, and Love: Transforming Your Relationship Patterns, and you can work on changing it using Self-Therapy Journey.

How Self-Therapy Journey Works: Therapist Readers Needed

Therapist Readers Needed for  Self-Therapy Journey Article

For the last three years, I have been developing a web application, Self-Therapy Journey (STJ), where people can work on transforming their psychological problems. It is like an integrated, interactive set of self-help books, based on the Pattern System and IFS. It should be ready to launch by January.
I have written an article for therapists on how Self-Therapy Journey can be used with your clients. It explains how to support and guide your clients in using STJ. It helps you understand how STJ works, what your clients can get from it, and how you can aid them in that process. This also applies to people who are not your regular therapy clients but who have asked you to guide them in using STJ.
I am looking for therapists who haven’t already used STJ, who would be willing to read the article and give me substantial feedback on it. It is a long article, over 30 single-spaced pages. I would like your feedback by January 10. If you are interested, email me at

How Self-Therapy Journey Works

An excerpt from the article mentioned above for therapists on how Self-Therapy Journey can be used with your clients.

Your client can choose a problematic pattern that they would like to change or a healthy capacity that they would like to develop. The pattern represents something that isn’t working well in their life, such as Procrastination or People-Pleasing, and the capacity is something healthy that they will want to activate instead, such as Work Confidence or Assertiveness.
Each problematic pattern is linked with the healthy capacity that transforms it. For example, the People-Pleasing Pattern is linked to the Assertiveness Capacity because Assertiveness transforms People-Pleasing.
Your client can choose a pattern to start working on in a variety of ways. They can take a quiz, which will give them a score for each pattern. The higher the score, the more likely it is that they have the pattern and therefore might want to work on it. However, the client shouldn’t depend completely on their scores. They should read the description of each pattern to determine whether they think they have it and also how important it is for them to change it. There are actually two different quizzes, one for interpersonal patterns and one for the rest of the patterns.
It might be useful for you to read through the description of any pattern that your client is intending to explore to see whether you agree about its importance for them or whether you think a different pattern might be more fruitful for them to explore. This requires that you understand the Pattern System, so you might want to take one of my professional courses on it.
Your client can also read through a list of patterns, which includes brief descriptions, to see which they might want to work on. There are currently twenty-three patterns in Self-Therapy Journey covering most of the psychological issues they might need to work on. They can read through a list of capacities as well to see which capacities they might want to develop. There are eighteen capacities involving a variety of healthy ways of relating and behaving. The client can also read through a list of psychological issues that shows which patterns are associated with each issue. I recommend that you look at this list because it shows how the patterns are associated with psychological issues that you will be familiar with.
Once the client has chosen a pattern to work on, it is paired with the capacity that will resolve the pattern. If, instead, the client chooses a capacity to develop, Self-Therapy Journey will show them which patterns tend to block that capacity and guide them into starting with one of those patterns in order to develop that capacity.

Once the client has chosen a pattern to work on, they go through a short sequence of pages to understand the pattern and make sure they have the pattern strongly enough to want to work on it. If so, they then embark on a five-stage process to explore the pattern, the childhood wounds behind it, and the healthy capacity that transforms it, as well as to set up a homework practice to activate the capacity in their life instead of the pattern. Self-Therapy Journey will create a customized report for each pattern, capacity, and wound that they explore, plus a report to guide each homework practice.

The Pattern System for Psychotherapists, Part 4

The is the continuation of the article The Pattern System for Psychotherapists.

Patterns in Group Therapy

In group therapy, certain patterns engender particular group problems or roles. For example, clients with an Entitled Pattern can become monopolizers of the group’s time, while clients with a Judgmental Pattern can create a hostile, unsafe group climate. By recognizing the patterns of your group members, you have a better chance of forestalling and handling group difficulties.

Patterns vs. Personality Disorders

Patterns are different from personality disorders in that, by definition, a certain level of psychopathology is required for a client to be diagnosed with a personality disorder, while a client can have a pattern at any level of dysfunction, from mild to severe. For example, a client with an extreme version of the Distancing Pattern might have a schizoid personality disorder, but someone with a milder version of that pattern might simply have difficulties in allowing intimacy or committing to a relationship.

Let’s look at the correspondences between personality disorders and patterns.

Other Psychotherapy and Personality Systems

The concept of a pattern corresponds to existing concepts in various psychotherapy schools-the schema from CBT, the Jungian complex, the psychodynamic defense. Many patterns and capacities correspond to Jungian archetypes. As a result the Pattern System can be used in conjunction with a wide variety of different models of therapy.

The Pattern System is different from systems of character types, such as the Enneagram or that used in Bioenergetics, because these systems attempt to capture a client’s entire character in one type. However, in the Pattern System, each pattern describes just one aspect of a client’s personality, and we expect that each person will have many different patterns and healthy capacities, at least one for each dimension. In fact, the richness of the pattern system fosters an attitude of looking deeply into a client’s behavior and issues with the goal of understanding the uniqueness of that person’s dynamics, rather than just giving him or her a label.

The Pattern System is similar to the Myers-Briggs test in being based on certain dimensions of personality. However, the Myers-Briggs system is oriented toward clarifying a person’s innate tendencies, while the Pattern System is focused on understanding a person’s healthy and problematic ways of functioning, which are more based on life experiences and can be modified by psychotherapy.

The Pattern System and IFS

IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy) was created by pioneering psychologist Richard Schwartz, PhD. It is an established and increasingly popular form of therapy which I use almost exclusively in my practice as a therapist because it is so powerful and user-friendly.

The Pattern System and IFS complement each other. IFS is a very powerful method for psychotherapy that is process oriented. Unlike many other therapy approaches, IFS doesn’t attempt to lay out the specific dynamics of a person’s psychology, in terms of underlying core issues, primary defenses, and so on. Other than the very important distinction it makes between managers, firefighters, and exiles, IFS focuses exclusively on the therapy process, with the assumption that the therapist doesn’t need to figure out and interpret the client’s issues. Once the client gets to know his or her parts, they will tell you what is going on.

The Pattern System supplies the specific psychology of various types of parts. It constitutes a map of the human psyche. Each pattern delineates a type of part that is commonly encountered in IFS work. Each healthy capacity defines an aspect of the Self or a non-extreme part in IFS. The Pattern System shows how a kind of protector may protect certain kinds of exile, which parts may be polarized with each other, be allied, and other systemic relationships. The Pattern System lays out the typical motivations for each type of IFS protector and the usual childhood origins for each type of exile.

The Pattern System doesn’t encourage people to put parts in boxes and assume they know a part when they understand what pattern it has. We recognize that each part is unique and must be understood by getting to know it experientially. The Pattern System provides a way for people and therapists to begin to understand what a person’s configuration of parts may be and what typical dynamics and relationships exist.

Therefore these two models complement each other. IFS provides the therapy process and the Pattern System the psychological content. The Pattern System doesn’t need to include a method for therapy because it can rely on IFS for that. They work together beautifully.

For more information about the Pattern System, click