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)
Click here for more information or to register

Click here for more information on the Advanced IFS Classes.

Advanced IFS Classes

Eating Issues, Hunger, and Needs

Self-Therapy, Vol. 3This is a short excerpt from Self-Therapy, Vol. 3. regarding eating issues, hunger and needs.

We can’t begin to talk about eating unless we talk about hunger. Hunger is one of our most primary needs and one of the earliest ways that we interact with our environment. It is what brings us back to our caretakers and how we learned about the nature of the world. Through our hunger we learn if we are safe, if our needs will be recognized and satisfied, if our caretakers will respond to us appropriately, and what love is.

Bonnie says:

“In my years of working with people, I have noticed that the psychological hallmark of eating issues is the conflicts people have around their needs. If you have a food addiction, you may not recognize when you are really hungry, what you are hungry for, and when you are full. You may not realize what other needs you have that are masked by your obsession with food. When you explore inside, you may find that your constant thinking about food has distracted you from feeling other unmet needs.”

Our issues about hunger come from conflicts about how we care for ourselves, leading to low self-esteem and people-pleasing behavior. This includes the following:

  • Taking care of others instead of yourself
  • Feeling like a martyr
  • Denying your needs in favor of others’ needs
  • Believing that you don’t have the permission, time, or resources to pay attention to your needs

Self-Therapy, Vol. 3

Self-Therapy, Vol. 3A Step-by-Step Guide to Using IFS for Eating Issues, Procrastination, the Inner Critic, Depression, Perfectionism, Anger, Communication, and More

I am excited to announce the publication of my new book in the Self-Therapy Series. It is available now in Kindle and PDF and will be published in paperback in a week or so.

The first book in this series, Self-Therapy, brought Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) to both therapists and the general public. IFS is a powerful and user-friendly method of therapy, which can be done on your own. Self-Therapy, Vol. 3 shows how IFS can be used to transform a variety of important psychological issues. You don’t need to have read Vol 2.

If you have been using IFS with your clients or in your own inner work, this book will help you to heal and transform eating issues, procrastination, the inner critic, depression, perfectionism, anger, communication, and more.

Click here for more information or to purchase.


Our New Online Store

Jay Earley, PhD and Bonnie Weiss, LCSW

We have been working on our online store to make it easier for you to find the products you are looking for. We have: Products

  • Guided meditations, which lead you through part of an IFS session, help you to access an Inner Champion, or other formats.
  • Books – paperbacks, ebooks, and one audiobook
  • Demonstration IFS sessions, where you get to hear a recording of a real IFS session with commentary afterward
  • Recorded Courses
  • Webinars
  • More

If you are looking for products to help you with a certain psychological issue, you can browse the storePsychological Issues Products in that way. We have products to help with:

  • Procrastination, Perfectionism, or Striving
  • People-Pleasing, Passive-Aggressive, Controlling, Victim, Caretaking, or Rebel Patterns
  • Social Issues
  • Eating Issues
  • Depression
  • Inner Critic Issues
  • Anger
  • Interpersonal Conflict

If you are looking for a product to help you develop a certain healthy capacity, you can browse the Healthy Capacities Productsstore in that way. We have products to help with:

  • Assertiveness, Personal Power
  • Self-Esteem, Confidence
  • Intimacy
  • Self-Care, Self-Support
  • Aliveness, Pleasure
  • Work Capacities

ApproachesCertain of our products are for therapist, coaches, and other helping professions. You can browse this list as well.

We invite you to explore our store at


When to Switch Target Parts

BK001-Self Therapy-aThis excerpt, When to Switch Target Parts, is from my upcoming book, Self-Therapy, Vol. 2, which is an advanced book on IFS.

Let’s suppose you have chosen a protector to work on, called your target part. As you are getting to know it, another part may emerge. It is best to take a moment to feel the new part’s emotions or body sensations and perhaps ask it a question or two. Then make a conscious 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.

The following are reasons why you might switch target parts:

  • A concerned part or protector won’t step aside.
  • An important new part arises.
  • A part arises that is usually not accessible.
  • A part insists on being heard.
  • The target part is afraid of another part.
  • The target part takes orders from another part.

The following are reasons why you might stay with your origins target part:

  • You want to finish with the target part.
  • You haven’t finished with any parts.
  • The target part feels ignored by you.

How do you tend to deal with the question of switching target parts? There are healthy and problematic ways of doing this. One problematic way is the Scattered Pattern, which involves following each new part that arises without making a conscious choice to do so. Whenever a new part pops up, even if you are in the middle of working with a different part, you turn your attention to the new part without even considering whether or not this is a good idea.

If you do this very often, your work will end up being scattered. You will get pulled this way and that. Every new part will take you off in a new direction, and you won’t make much progress with any one part. You will bounce around in your psyche, not getting far enough along with the steps of the IFS process for real therapeutic change to happen.

The opposite extreme is the Rigid Pattern, which involves being so focused on staying with your target part that you ignore other parts that arise. You are like a horse with blinders on. Or, if you notice another part, you immediately ask it to step aside without acknowledging it or considering its importance.

Here are some of the problems that can result from the Rigid Pattern:

  1. You might overlook a part that is crucial to work on that day. For various reasons, a part that spontaneously arises might be important to deal with, and you won’t realize this because of your single-mindedness.
  2. A part may spontaneously arise that has an important relationship to your target part. It might be polarized with the target part. It might be an exile being protected by the target part. It might be allied with the target part. You don’t want to ignore a part like this; you want to get to know it because this will help your work with the original target part.
  3. The parts that are arising and being ignored might become resentful and sabotage your work with the original target part.

New Format: Online Basic IFS Course

We have had a hard time this fall finding enough people who could meet at the scheduled time for the regular IFS Basic Course. So I decided to offer the Basic IFS Course in this new format.

The Basic IFS Course teaches you how to access Self and work with protectors. 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. The text for the course is Self-Therapy.


This is a six-week course that uses the recorded IFS Course from our online store. You work together with a group of people who are working through the recorded course and pairing with each other for the homework practices.

There will be an online forum for you to communicate with the other members of the class and with me. I will be available through the forum, or by phone, to answer any questions that come up.

This format is ideal for people who can’t make the time that is scheduled for the regular Basic IFS Course or who want to take it when there isn’t a regular Basic Course scheduled.

Dates: Week of Oct. 26 – week of Nov. 30
Cost: $15 plus the recorded course, which is $75.

Email me at if you would like to take this course.

Click here for a fuller description of the Basic IFS Course.




The Power of Parts in IFS

IFS WebinarsThe concept of parts in IFS corresponds to ideas from other forms of psychotherapy—for example, defenses, psychic forces, self-images, introjects, and schemas.  However, these concepts are normally seen as just mechanical or biological descriptions of how the psyche operates. Parts (or subpersonalities) may operate in similar ways, but they are alive and personal. They do what they do for reasons of their own, and they have relationships with you and with each other. For example, suppose you are using the defense of repression, which makes a certain memory unconscious. IFS recognizes that a protective part is purposely excluding that memory from your awareness for a reason. Perhaps it is afraid that the memory would cause you to be overwhelmed by pain.

Parts are entities of their own, with their own feelings, beliefs, motivations, and memories. It is especially important to understand that parts have motivations for everything they do. Nothing is just done out of habit. Nothing is just a pattern of thinking or behavior you learned. Everything (except for purely physiological reactions) is done by a part for a reason, even though that reason may be unconscious. For example, if you get distracted at a certain point while exploring yourself in therapy, this is probably not an accident. A part wants to distract you because it is seeking to avoid something.

Understanding the psyche in this way gives you a great deal of power to help your clients change their inner worlds for the better. Since parts are like little people inside us, we can make contact with them, get to know them, negotiate with them, encourage them to trust us, help them communicate with each other, and give them what they need to heal. This gives you an enormously increased capacity for understanding and transforming your client’s psyche—for achieving wholeness.

You may treat the idea of subpersonalities as simply a useful metaphor for viewing the psyche, which it is.

But it is much more than that.

If you treat the components of the psyche as real entities that you can interact with, they will respond to you in that way, which gives you tremendous power for transformation.


Guarded Parts and Self-Compassion in IFS

This is an excerpt for my upcoming book, Self-Therapy, Vol. 2.

When you are working with an exile that has shown you some of its pain (Chapter 11 of Self-Therapy), if you are truly in Self, you will feel compassion for the exile. Compassion is the natural response of the heart to someone who is suffering, whether it is another person or your own exile, as long as you are in Self. It means that you care about the person or the exile, and you especially care about the fact that they are suffering. Compassion is lovingkindness, which is a form of love. Your heart opens with love for the person (or part) who is in pan.

For the IFS process to be successful, it isn’t enough to be curious and open with an exile the way you would with a protector, because compassion is vitally necessary for healing an exile’s suffering. An exile’s pain can be so formidable and tortuous that it may be hard for it to open up to you without this tender, gentle quality. And your compassion is part of what is healing for the exile.

When you check to see how you feel toward the exile, sometimes you may just feel “neutral.” You may feel separate from the exile but not particularly caring or connected. If the exile hasn’t yet shown you any of its pain, then you might be in Self even if you aren’t feeling compassion for it. Since compassion is a natural response to pain, if you haven’t experienced the exile’s pain, then a neutral, curious stance is fine.

However, if the exile has shown you some of its pain and you still feel neutral, then you aren’t in Self. You may not be feeling anything negative toward the exile, so it is easy to assume that you are in Self. But you aren’t. You are blended with a Self-like part that feels guarded about opening up to the exile. It wants to stay distant from the exile or to remain intellectual. It is crucial to be aware when this happens and not proceed with the exile work until you are truly in Self, which means feeling compassion for the exile.

Ask the Self-like Guarded Part to relax and allow your natural connectedness and compassion to arise. If that doesn’t work, ask the Guarded Part what it is afraid would happen if it stepped back and allowed you to feel compassion for the exile. Often it will say that it is afraid that you will be overwhelmed by the exile’s pain. It doesn’t realize that Self is there, so it thinks that if it allows you to be open emotionally, you will become blended with the exile and overwhelmed by its pain, which may have happened in the past. Explain to the Guarded Part that if it steps aside, you will be in Self and feel your natural compassion for the exile. You won’t be drawn too much into the exile’s pain. And if the exile starts to flood you, you will negotiate with it to contain its feelings so you can heal it. This will probably help the Guarded Part to realize that it is safe for it to relax.

Once the Guarded Part steps back, check to see if you now feel compassion for the exile. If so, then you are probably in Self, and you can proceed with the work because you will now be a healing presence for the exile. If not, check to see if there is another Guarded Part or some other protector that is blocking your compassion. Sometimes a Guarded Part blocks compassion because it is afraid that if you feel compassion, you will be soft and vulnerable to being hurt. It may think that feeling emotion is a sign of weakness. You can reassure it that Self is both strong and compassionate so it would be safe for it to step aside and allow you to be in Self. You can even let it know that if it thinks you are in danger, it can jump back in to protect you.

Major Changes to Self-Therapy Journey

Self-Therapy-JourneyI am excited to announce that after 8 months of work, I have completed major changes to Self-Therapy Journey, my interactive online tool for personal growth and psychological healing.

Before I explain the changes, let me discuss some basic concepts in Self-Therapy Journey (STJ).  Patterns are problematic ways of functioning or relating that you might want to change, such as Procrastination, Depression, or People-Pleasing. Capacities are healthy ways of functioning or relating that you might want to develop, such as Work Confidence, Aliveness, or Assertiveness. Wounds are painful feelings or negative beliefs that you took on as a result of harmful incidents or relationships from childhood, such as Shame, Abandonment, or believing that you are Unlovable.

Now let’s look at the changes to Self-Therapy Journey.

WoundsStarting with a Capacity or Wound

Self-Therapy Journey was originally set up so that you had to start with a pattern, and then you could work on healing wounds and developing a capacity as part of working on that pattern. Now you can also start with a wound or a capacity. In addition, you can work on a wound or capacity by itself, which means that you don’t have to do it as part of working on a pattern. For example, if you want to work on your Shame Wound, you can do that as part of working on a pattern that has shame underlying it, such as the Self-Effacing Pattern, or you can work on your Shame Wound on its own. For another example, if you want to work on developing Assertiveness, you can do that as part of working of a pattern that blocks Assertiveness, such as People-Pleasing or Passive-Aggressive, or you can work on developing Assertiveness on its own.

Paying for a Single Pattern, Capacity, or Wound

In the old Self-Therapy Journey, the only payment option was with a $25/month recurring subscription. That option is still there, but now you can also choose to enroll for a single pattern, capacity, wound for just $4.97 or $9.97 (see below for explanation of prices). This makes it easier to get started. If you discover that you want to enroll for many different patterns, capacities, or wounds, then you can choose the monthly subscription at any time.

Simplified Versions and Levels of Enrollment

I have added simplified versions of the patterns and capacities for just $4.97. I call this the Shift Level of enrollment. This is for people who want quick results for less money. You can upgrade at any time to the more complete version of the pattern or capacity, which is $9.97 and is called the Change Level of enrollment. If you enroll for the monthly subscription that includes the wounds, this is called the Transformation Level of enrollment, which is $35/month. The $25 monthly subscription that doesn’t include the wounds is at the Change Level.

New Quizzes

The old version of Self-Therapy Journey included two quizzes to help you determine which pattern to work on. STJ now also has a wounds quiz to help you see which wounds you have and two capacities quizzes to help you figure out which capacities you need to develop (or develop further).

I invite you to check out Self-Therapy Journey at

The IFS Approach to Therapeutic Change

Here’s an understanding of the IFS approach to therapeutic changeThe protector and the exile.

Once you have gotten to know a protector (a part that defends against underlying pain) and developed a trusting relationship with it, you have made important progress toward helping it to relax and let go of its protective role. Until then, the protector will be worried that the exile (a wounded inner child part) will be harmed or that you will feel the exile’s pain.

Think of it this way. If you felt protective of a younger sister who was in danger from bullies at school, you wouldn’t be able to relax your guard until you were certain the bullies were neutralized and your sister could take care of herself.

It is the same with a protector. It may relax some, but usually it can’t fully let go until the exile it protects is healed. It might actually be destructive to try and push past the protector or to convince it to drop its role entirely. This could set up an adversarial relationship with the protector in which it feels that it must resist you instead of cooperating with you.

Therefore, at first we don’t spend much time trying to induce the protector to change. We simply ask its permission to work with the exile it is protecting and then move on to healing that child part.

Once this has been accomplished, we come back and check with the protector. At that point, it is more likely to release its protective role because the exile is no longer in pain and needing protection.

Thus there is a trajectory to the IFS process; we move from protector to exile and back again.

This is in contrast to many therapies that just try to get past protectors to heal exiles. They don’t connect with and respect protectors, so the protector’s transformation is often incomplete.

And protectors are the parts that run our lives.