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All Parts Welcome! A conversation with Julie Long and Nan Campbell introducing the healing work of Internal Family Systems – Parts Theory.

In this conversation, Julie and Nan explore the world of Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS Therapy). We discuss the healing power of being capital S, SELF Led, using the 8 C’s of Connection: curiosity, creativity, courage, compassion, confidence, clarity, and confidence to gently and effectively change our relationship with the parts of us that have been our constant companions: anxiety, inner critics, perfectionists, managers—even addictions, and other forms of self-harming.

In the wise words of the founder of IFS, Richard Schwartz, PhD, “Is there some part of yourself that you wish would go away? Most of us would say yes, whether we call it addiction, the inner critic… or some other disparaging name. Yet, there is a different way to approach these aspects of yourself that leads to true healing instead of constant inner struggle.” (No Bad Parts, 2021)

This is an introduction to the powerful work of unburdening ourselves from the roles of our parts; parts that have been working overtime trying to protect us from being overwhelmed by fear and shame. We can experience a sense of freedom and agency when we can acknowledge that our parts have always been working to protect us—it just doesn’t feel like it sometimes. It usually goes something like the scenario below:

1. Imagine your heart is beginning to race and your palms are feeling a bit sweaty…is that a familiar feeling? For many of us this is the beginning of a wave of anxiety or in some cases we find ourselves in an oh too familiar “panic attack.” Most of us react to these moments with resistance, rage, or downright rebellion—“Not again! What is my problem? I can’t cope with these feelings!”. Does this in any way feel familiar? For many of us, it’s our normal…

2. Now, take yourself back to this same scenario and take 3 long deep breaths, in through your nose, hold and exhale out through your nose. Now spend a moment gently scanning your body. Where is that feeling coming from? Is it in your chest, gut, lower back, your throat or across your shoulders? This is where your feelings are making themselves known. They are getting your attention—mission accomplished.

3. Now that you’ve discovered where the feeling is showing up in your body, see if you can name it. Is it an inner critic, a powerful perfectionist, an analytical part, a part that is always on guard for the worst case scenario?

4. Now, if it’s available to you, ask yourself how old this part is. Another way of wondering or being curious is by considering when you started noticing this feeling. Were you a little kid who needed someone to give you a hug? Or a teenager in the middle of the chaos of adolescence and just needed someone to listen?

5. Now come back into this moment and see if you can sense how you are feeling toward this part—right in this moment. Is there a feeling of frustration or confusion? Now, diving a bit deeper into curiosity. Gently ask this part what it needs in this moment? Does it need to be seen, does it want to rest, or is it concerned that you might be headed for imminent disaster?

Congratulations! You’ve just discovered that whatever part it is in you that wants your attention. You can acknowledge it and start on a journey that allows you to offer compassion, curiosity and even courage to this part of you that truly just wants to connect with you.

We’ve just shared an All Parts Welcome experience. This is just the beginning of a beautiful and honestly, sometimes super challenging, journey to becoming a SELF-Led human, able to come from your truest place of compassion. It’s a wonderful place to start.

Click here to learn more and connect with Nan Campbell, Individual and Relational Therapist.