Power of Parts

Power of Parts in IFSThe 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

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 change your inner world for the better. Since parts are like little people inside you, you can make contact with them, get to know them, negotiate with them, encourage them to trust you, help them communicate with each other, and give them what they need to heal. When you do, you will have an enormously increased capacity for understanding and transforming your 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 your psyche as real entities that you can interact with, they will respond to you in that way, which gives you tremendous power for transformation. Are they actually real? I believe so, but I invite you to read this book, do the exercises, and make up your own mind.

IFS Latest In Therapy Methods

IFS is the latest in a long line of therapy methods that work with subpersonalities. Early methods were Jungian analysis, Psychosynthesis, Transactional Analysis, and Gestalt therapy. More recent approaches are hypnotherapy, inner child work, Voice Dialogue, Ego State Therapy, John Rowan’s work, and others. IFS is the latest and most sophisticated of these methods. And many forms of therapy that don’t explicitly work with subpersonalities nevertheless use concepts that are quite similar, such as “schemas” in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

IFS Recognizes Power and Importance of Self

IFS represents an advance over these other methods in a number of ways. It recognizes the power and importance of the Self and bases the therapy on relating to your parts from Self.

The IFS method takes you deep inside yourself while still remaining alert and in charge during a session. It doesn’t just work with parts in isolation; it has a sophisticated understanding of the relationships between parts that guides the therapy method.

As you will see, the most important relationship is between those parts that protect us from pain and those child parts that are in pain. The problems that occur within the human psyche are largely structured around the need to protect ourselves from pain. Since the IFS approach is organized around this, we can have respectful sensitivity to our pain and defenses while pinpointing our work with laser-like efficiency.




Witnessed IFS Sessions with Bonnie Weiss

Witnessed IFS SessionsI am excited to be offering Witnessed IFS Sessions on alternate Thursday’s this Fall.

These free teleconference sessions give people an opportunity to be present during a live session with a volunteer client. The group serves as a compassionate-support container for the client’s process.

I will incorporate some teaching to illuminate the IFS process, wherever appropriate during the session.

Participants report that they are touched by the universality of the issues that people work on, and have some movement in their own process as a result of listening.

Our “parts” are always listening and looking for validation.

There will be opportunities to give feedback to the client and ask questions of me at the end of the session.


September 24
5-6:30 pm Pacific (8-9:30pm Eastern)

October 8
5-6:30 pm Pacific (8-9:30 pm Eastern)

October 22
5-6:30 pm Pacific (8-9:30 pm Eastern)

To join any of the Witnessed IFS Sessions, click here to register.

The IFS Advantage

Read how using IFS Sandy would learn how to access her true Self, a port in the storm, a place of strength and compassion which is the source of internal healing. 

Sandy wanted to take on a creative video project, but she couldn’t seem to get started.  First she had to clean up her office, and that seemed to take forever. Then she found herself working out on the treadmill.  Okay, she thought, now I’m ready to go.  But instead of going to her office, she headed for the kitchen.  A half hour later she was preparing a 3-course meal.  After a few days like this, she acknowledged to herself that she was avoiding the project. This procrastination made her feel vaguely bad about herself, lethargic, and stuck. Sandy’s long-standing pattern of procrastination and depression was back.

If she picked up a self-help book, it would give her tips on mobilizing herself, rallying support, making decisions, and thinking positively. But these approaches ignore the crux of the problem. There is a part of Sandy that doesn’t want to work on her video project. That part is unconscious but nevertheless has the power to stop her. Actually the part has such power because it is unconscious. Since Sandy doesn’t know about it, she has no way to interact with it. A hidden part has extra influence because it can’t be addressed. It is like someone speaking ill of Sandy behind her back. Rumors would begin to fly, but Sandy wouldn’t know where they came from. She wouldn’t be able to confront the source.

If Sandy went into conventional therapy, she would probably uncover the avoidant part that keeps her busy with unrelated tasks. Then she might try to convert it or overcome it, seeing it as her enemy. However, this approach won’t work very well because it ignores the very real fears and motivations of this part. Sandy might explore where the avoidant part came from in her childhood, but this usually involves analytically understanding her history, and real change rarely comes from intellectual insight alone.

If we ask why the avoidant part operates the way it does, we see that several parts of Sandy are involved in her procrastination, and these parts have important relationships with each other. There is also a child part of Sandy who was criticized harshly by her father and made to feel incompetent. Whenever she attempts to accomplish something difficult, a task that she could fail at, that child part is triggered, like an echo from her past.  The avoidant part is not really Sandy’s enemy at all.  On the contrary, it is trying to protect this child; it is afraid she will be hurt again if Sandy tackles her video project.

There is also another force at work here.  A third part of Sandy pushes her to work hard and criticizes her when she doesn’t. It is constantly on her case to get working and be productive. All this self-criticism is grinding Sandy down, making the child part feel hated and worthless. Therefore the avoidant part is rebelling against this pushy/critical part. It doesn’t want Sandy to be dominated by harsh judgment, so it distracts her with other activities. But she can’t enjoy them because the demanding part keeps yelling at her in the background.

These parts are all extreme and are in serious conflicts with each other. Sandy feels like a ship in a storm, buffeted here and there, without a center from which to understand herself and move forward. What she needs is a way to integrate those parts into a caring, cooperative whole so she can feel good about herself and function well.

Even if all three parts were uncovered in psychodynamic therapy, the change would need to come through Sandy’s relationship with her therapist, which can be expensive and time-consuming to establish. Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) is an approach that helps you find your center, pinpoint the parts of you that are causing difficulties, heal them and unify them. Furthermore, IFS is not only a powerful form of therapy, it can be used for self-therapy. My IFS courses show you how to do that.

Using IFS, Sandy would learn how to access her true Self, a port in the storm, a place of strength and compassion which is the source of internal healing. Her Self would connect with each of Sandy’s three parts in a loving way that allowed them to trust her.

Following the IFS procedure, she could help them release their fears and negative beliefs, allowing their natural strengths to flourish. They would learn to cooperate with each other and support the unfolding of her life. She could then move ahead with her video project passionately and without reservations.


Self-Therapy Journey Intro & Stage 1 Demo Webinar

Self-Therapy Journey Intro and Stage 1 DemoIn this webinar, I will introduce Self-Therapy Journey and demonstrate Stage 1. I will take you through Stage 1 as if I were an STJ user, showing you how to work with every page.

Wednesday, Oct. 29
4:30-6 PM Pacific (7:30-9 PM Eastern)


The webinar is for you if

  1. You are already using Self-Therapy Journey and want support and guidance.
  2. You want to learn about Self-Therapy Journey to decide if you want to use it.

I will provide an overview of Self-Therapy Journey and answer questions from those of you who are considering using it.

I am also excited to meet people who are using Self-Therapy Journey and find out how it is working for you. I would also love to get feedback from you about what you like and how it could be improved.

Click here to enroll.

Feel free to register even if you can’t make that time. A replay will be available afterwards.

Self-Therapy Journey (STJ) is the first of its kind—a general purpose web program for psychological exploration and healing. You can check it out at www.selftherapyjourney.com.

What can you do?

  • Understand yourself psychologically
  • Resolve problems like procrastination, shyness, or anger
  • Gain self-confidence, strength, openness
  • Transform behavior patterns, such as dependency or people-pleasing
  • Achieve intimacy, success, contentment

How does it work?

  • You take charge of your growth, in private, at your convenience
  • There are guided meditations for healing your emotional wounds
  • You get a customized report for each pattern, wound, and capacity
  • You engage in homework practices to change your behavior
  • You systematically work on your issues and track your progress

Get the life-changing power of psychotherapy for a tiny fraction of the cost.

You can think of STJ as a sophisticated and interactive set of self-help books, plus guided meditations and customized reports. It is based on the Pattern System and Internal Family Systems Therapy.

What Users are Saying

Self-Therapy Journey is brilliant. It’s been an absolutely great experience to use it. Every time I had a thought like, “What about this?” there was something in the online system to handle it. — Athena Murphy

I think Self-Therapy Journey is immensely helpful. You can go as deep as you’re willing or want to go. — Elizabeth Moulton, Clinical Psychologist

The problems that I worked on using Self-Therapy Journey have been resolved. — Cathy Duke, Licensed Counselor

More testimonials

Click and Register for the Self-Therapy Journey Webinar




Spread The Word About Self-Therapy Journey – Receive a Free Gift

Help Spread the Word and Receive a Free Gift

I know that my approach to self-therapy can be helpful to people because of the testing I have done and the feedback I have gotten from many people. My mission is to reach a large number of people, help them improve their functioning and relating, and introduce them to the power of therapy to change their lives. This is possible because I have made this approach user-friendly and inexpensive, through books, audio products, quizzes, and especially Self-Therapy Journey (STJ).

This work has a chance to make a big impact on the world. It not only helps people to function well and feel good, it does this by a process that fosters self-awareness, openness, compassion, cooperation, and love–values and attitudes that will make for a better society.

I want to get the word out to everyone who can benefit from it. You can help! Click here to tell a friend about the email list, and you will receive the Self-Therapy Workbook free, which will help you in using Internal Family Systems Therapy to work on yourself.

Self-Therapy Journey Gift, Self-Therapy Workbook