Internal Family Systems Therapy Workshop

There are two announcements after the main part of this post.

I attended a 12-hour Workshop on Internal Family Systems Therapy. It was on ZOOM, and I am pretty comfortable using ZOOM now. I wasn’t triggered by being on video, and there were so many people attending that I just faded into the background. 

I noticed that I have the world’s messiest bookcase as background. I have no desire to tear it apart, find new places for all the papers and vases and other miscellaneous items, nor do I wish to subject myself to the frustration of not being able to find stuff when the bookshelf beautification project is complete. I have some lovely ZOOM virtual backgrounds, which I use on occasion. I do get spooked by seeing parts of me disappearing and reappearing as the software tries to catch up with itself. I shall therefore offer my bookcase, as a kindness, to make many people proud that their offices are tidier than mine. 

I wasn’t triggered by being in a large group, either. I didn’t have to interact with anybody. I also was under no pressure to remember anybody’s name or what we talked about. Actually, there was no pressure to remember anything, come to think about it. That was a treat because when I attend an in-person workshop, I’m expected to spend breaks and lunchtimes with others, to join email groups, and to remember all sorts of things, whether I am presenting or not.

I didn’t know anything about Internal Family Systems Therapy when I signed up for the workshop. Years ago, I had looked at their website and decided that it was pretty complicated and I didn’t have the time to study it. That was the sum total of my knowledge of the subject.

The workshop was well-organized, the slides were clear, and the presenter was knowledgeable. The content was interesting, and I learned a lot. I’d like to share a very brief summary with you all.

IFS theory postulates that everybody has a Self, everybody has experienced trauma to some degree, and everybody has developed parts to deal with the trauma. These parts came into being to protect the Self from being overwhelmed. Now the person has everything inside themselves that they need to heal. The therapist doesn’t have to give suggestions or advice or teach the client anything. All he/she has to do is guide the internal process of the client. Here’s an example:

T: “Is there a part of you that has thoughts or feelings about X?”
C. “There’s a part that’s mad.”
T. “What’s that like?”
C. Describes how the mad part makes things more complicated, how it would be better if that part went away.
T. “What’s the worst thing that could happen if that part of you stopped making things more complicated?”
C. “I would get overwhelmed and couldn’t cope.”
T. (to client’s Self, sense of “me”) “That mad part of you is doing a very good job of trying to protect you by distracting you.
T. “I wonder what would happen if, just for a second, that part stopped protecting you. If it stepped back, just for a moment, what would that be like?”
C. “I would okay for a short time. I know I would.”
T. Asks both the Self and the part if they are willing to try it. After getting permission, coaches them on how to step back and leave a quiet space between them. Then asks what it was like for each.

See how everything happens internally? Each time the client works with a part, the Self gets stronger, and the part does less and less protecting. Since the protective behavior (cutting, eating or not, worrying, criticizing, etc.) is a distraction to help the Self not deal with the trauma, symptoms diminish. The therapist doesn’t address the symptoms, just guides the client through the process of experimenting and negotiating with the parts.

Once the protectors are all on board and have faith that the Self really is strong enough to deal with the trauma, the healing phase of therapy begins.

There are parts, called “exiles” in IFS therapy, which hold the memories and feelings from the trauma. The therapist guides the client through the process of meeting an exile and learning about the age and the trauma in general terms. The next steps are finding out what the part would have liked to have happened, determining that the adult Self can give what is needed, and then providing it through guided imagery. At that point, the exile part is able to release the trauma and stops being stuck in the past. The trauma becomes a memory and does not have the overwhelmingly intense images and feelings of a flashback.  

I like that the client is not pathologized and that, from the start, the therapist conveys that the client has all that is needed to heal inside themself. I like that all parts of the person are treated with respect and always given freedom of choice. I like that the purpose of a symptom, not the symptom itself, is the focus of attention. It is a gentle, compassionate approach to trauma treatment.

I don’t like that IFST would take a long time for many therapists to learn because of the difference in approach and language and the number of protocols for different processes. (It’s sort of like EMDR in this respect.) Although from reading their website I gathered that it could be blended with other modalities of therapy, it would take much thought and time to do so.

Here is The Internal Family Sytems Institute’s website.

Browse through the News section for free Webinars and the Resources section for articles, videos, and podcasts. The bibliography in the Research section has a wealth of books, which you can sample at Google Books, Amazon, or Questia.


Upcoming Holidays

4/1 April Fool’s Day
4/1 Maundy Thursday (commemoration of the Last Supper)
4/2 Good Friday
4/3 Holy Saturday
4/4 Easter Sunday
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/26 Full Moon
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

5/1 Beltane
5/9 Mothers’ Day
5/12 (?) Armed Forces Day
5/23 Pentecost
5/26 Total Lunar Eclipse 
5/26 Full Moon
5/31 Memorial Day

 6/10 Annular Solar Eclipse
 6/20 Fathers’ Day
 6/21 Summer solstice
 6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
 6/24 (?) St John’s Day
 6/24 Full Moon

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
4/4 Hitler’s alternate birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday, 4/20, and Easter of the current year. This year, Easter falls on 4/4.)
4/8 Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)
4/15 Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day)
4/20 Hitler’s birthday
4/15 Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day)
5/8 V-E Day (Victory in Europe, WW2) 
5/17 Shavuot (Festival of Harvest, Festival of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices, and the equinoxes.)

* You can find more information on the following holidays at: 

Spring Equinox:

Easter: personal (for background, see Spring Equinox)

Walpurgisnacht/May Eve:


Mothers’ Day:

Fathers’ Day:

Summer Solstice: (corrected text)
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1

Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2

Fall Equinox:

Halloween: (personal) 
Halloween: (background)
Yule/Winter Solstice:
Valentine’s Day:


*Highlights of a New York Times article

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are proving highly effective in preventing coronavirus infections under real-world conditions, the C.D.C. found.

Troubling variants were circulating during the time of the study – from December 14, 2020 to March 13, 2021 — yet the vaccines still provided powerful protection.

The C.D.C. enrolled 3,950 people at high risk of being exposed to the virus because they were health care workers, first responders, or others on the front lines….

Among those who were fully vaccinated, there were .04 infections per 1,000 person-days, meaning that among 1,000 persons there would be .04 infections in a day.

There were 0.19 infections per 1,000 person-days among those who had had one dose of the vaccine. In contrast, there were 1.38 infections per 1,000 person-days in unvaccinated people.


* Survivorship Regular Conference – Saturday and Sunday May 22 – 23, 2021
Clinician’s Conference – Friday May 21, 2021
Information on the speakers, topics, and registration is at











Plural Positivity World Conference

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

* Remember that two anthologies are seeking submissions:

    1. Jade Miller is working on an anthology about the difficulty of finding a therapist who can work with DID or other forms of dissociation. Write her at

    2. I am seeking submissions for an anthology of accounts of forced abortion, sacrifice, or forced adoption of babies in a cult setting. Contact me through the comments section, or RA Projects, PO Box 14276, 4304 18th St., San Francisco CA 94114.


At An Infinite Mind’s “Healing Together” conference this year, a group of people got together and talked about putting on an Internet-based conference at the same time as the annual International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation’s conference. And it is happening! Three whole days of free presentations, panels, and interviews on March 30, March 31, and April 1, 2019. All of it will be recorded and archived.

The conference is put on by a group of dissociated people who call themselves plural rather than multiple – Thus “Power to the Plurals.” The spark that keeps the activist group inspired is The Stronghold System, who makes and edits videos and has created many webpages., including two Facebook groups, Power to the Plurals – A safe empowerment group and AlterNation – A safe support group for those with DID/OSDD. There is also a Youtube channel with over 100 educational videos on multiplicity/DID/DDNOS. etc.

Information, including the conference schedule, topics, and speaker bios (scroll all the way down), is at

By the way, I was interviewed on “what is SRA?” (SRA can also stand for “sexual ritual abuse” and “sadisitc ritual abuse.) I talked about my particular kind of polyfragmented system as well.


The impetus for this online conference is their belief that the ISSTD does not ask for input from people with dissociative disorders. They honor research findings and tend to shape treatment around those research findings. This follows the trend of evidence-based medicine in the realm of physical disorders.

I’m generally all for evidence-based medicine, as it shows me that my doctor has at least kept up with the literature. But I am savvy enough to know that some research has serious limitations – very small samples, small time periods, no control group, exclusion of women, etc. And I am also savvy enough to know that thinking outside the box can be very helpful. After all, the ideas that are being tested today are the result of somebody being creative and trying something new yesterday.

ISSTD guidelines outline the recommended treatment of DID. The problem is that the guidelines are not taken as suggestions and therapists in many settings do not incorporate anything in their work that is not written up in the guidelines. Therapists who work outside the guidelines, or who use treatment modalities in addition to the guidelines, are marginalized. Submitting papers with original concepts to the ISSTD journal are discouraged as are presentations at their conferences.

What happens when a client does not respond to evidence-based therapy? What happens when the client does not feel heard? What happens if the client feels no need to integrate and is seeking increased communication and cooperation between alters? What happens when the client has religious or cultural beliefs that do not fit within the guidelines? What happens when the therapist has had success with approaches that are not covered in the guidelines? The questions pile up,

I have been on both sides of the couch, so to speak. I’ve been a clinical social worker (with ritual abuse survivors as clients) and have been (and am) a ritual abuse survivor with DDNOS. This is how I see the process. Things work very well when therapists and clients are equal partners and tend to stall or be very bumpy when the therapist is seen as an authority who knows better than the client. It doesn’t matter if it is therapists who are elevating themselves or it is clients who are placing their therapists on a pedestal. Either way, it’s a power imbalance.

So, at the “Healing Together” conference, I found it very refreshing to see dissociative people standing tall and stating that they are intelligent human beings and have ideas, suggestions, and beliefs that warrant attention. I mean, aren’t they the experts on their own system as it is manifesting itself at the moment? Their understanding of their system may change in time, but for now, this is what they have to work with.

Aren’t they in charge of their own healing? The truth is that no therapist can “fix” them. They heal themselves, with the coaching of the therapist. And this should not only be acknowledged, but honored.


Upcoming Holidays

3/20 Full moon
3/20 Spring Equinox
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan
4/1 April Fool´s Day
4/5 New moon
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/14 Palm Sunday
4/19 Full moon
4/19 Good Friday
4/20 Holy Saturday
4/21 Easter Sunday
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve
5/1 Beltane
5/4 New moon
5/12 Mothers’ Day
5/18 Full moon
5/18 Armed Forces Day
5/27 Memorial Day

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
3/20 – 3/21 Purim (Deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman in Persia)
4/19 – 4/27 Passover/Pesach (Deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt)
4/20 Hitler´s actual birthday
4/21 Hitler’s alternative birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday and half-birthday on 4/20 and his actual birthday and half-birthday on Easter of the current year.)
4/30 Anniversary of Hitler’s death
5/1 – 5/2 Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day)
5/7 – 5/8 Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day, Day of Remembrance)
5/8 – 5/9 Yom HaAtzma´ut (Israeli Independence Day)
5/8 V-E Day (Victory in Europe, WW2)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)

A simple way to explain therapy

I was trying to explain how therapy worked to somebody who didn’t know much of anything about it.  He was a “thing” person, not a “person” person.  Give him something to fix and he was extremely capable. Give him a situation to fix – say a crying child – and he had no idea what to do.

So saying, “It’s a corrective emotional experience” or “You heal through the relationship” didn’t seem like it would cut it.

I went for a visualization that contained familiar things. “Think of three circles. Label one ‘trauma and pain,’ another ‘destructive ways of responding’ and the third ‘constructive ways of responding.’ Okay?” After a couple of examples of what trauma is and what are destructive and constructive ways of dealing with things are, he got it.

“If the constructive circle is really large and the destructive circle is small, a person is in good shape. That’s mental health. They may not be happy about their pain and whatever caused it, but they cope, and cope well.

“If the destructive area is large and the constructive area is small, that’s a person with problems. The therapist’s job is to coach that person on ways to shrink the destructive circle and enlarge the constructive one. You can’t just erase the destructive patterns, because even though they aren’t ideal, they are a way to cope. You have to put something in their place first.

“So why do people choose destructive ways of coping in the first place? Why don’t they go for the gold when they are kids?

“Well, maybe they were taught destructive patterns. If their parents were no good low-life scum, that’s what they had as role models. Or maybe their parents taught them destructive ways, either because it was easier on them or out of ignorance. Kids learn from the people around them. They copy what they see their parents doing.

“Also, unfortunately, destructive ways of coping are very effective in the short term. If you lose everybody you love in a car crash, you could forget the pain for a while by getting blissed out on heroin. If you are dead broke, you could try robbing a few people. Problem solved for now, but far more problems ahead.

“So therapy is teaching a person to replace poor methods of coping with better ones and of titrating awareness of the pain so that it’s not too much, so that it doesn’t overwhelm the coping mechanisms.”

For you “person” people out there, titrating means adding one liquid to another, drop by drop, until you get the balance you want.)

He got it. No magic, just plain old ordinary common sense. And it is all true!

I just thought, this might be a good way of explaining therapy or healing to a kid alter. It would be above the littlest ones’ heads, but at about eight, their thinking should be sophisticated enough to understand.