By Mary DuParri, MA, LPC, “Finding Your Way” Topic Expert Contributor
After I completed graduate school, I longed for a place where I could voice my fears and confusion concerning my abilities as a therapist. I have been fortunate to find wise and down-to-earth mentors who have supervised and guided me over the years. After I completed my IFS Level 1 training, I longed for a place to discuss the fears and confusion that arose as a result of bringing a new modality into the therapy room. Again, fortunately, I found IFS peers who were looking for the same, and we formed a group that has been supporting us for years. Now, in the age of technology, I am longing for a forum where therapists both new to and familiar with the IFS Model can bring their wisdom, experiences, questions, and parts to a dialogue that will benefit all.
I am opening this dialogue with a few words about what some of us experience as an awkwardness as we begin to shift from previous modalities we have used in therapy to the language of IFS. When I experienced the power of the IFS Model to create healing for myself and others, I was eager to use it, except for one thing: it sounded too weird. Even though I had come to be comfortable talking about parts in trainings, I worried about the client’s response to my introducing parts language. And even when I did introduce it, heaven forbid if we made it as far as an unburdening and I needed to introduce the “Earth, Wind, and Fire” portion of the process.
I wondered if my clients might think I was an old hippie who ought to come back to reality. Though I am feeling a little vulnerable exposing this part, I wrestled with it for a while because it made me alter the IFS language ever so slightly to something I was more comfortable with. But, instead of making IFS my own, which is what I told myself I was doing, those alterations actually made me stumble more with the Model and probably made my clients less confident in what we were doing. After I worked with my uneasy part and began having the courage to show up right away with confident parts language (you know, the words that are on the sheet in the Level 1 manual), everything shifted. Rarely did clients question the weirdness factor. And to those that did, I would usually just say: “I know, this sounds a little weird, huh? But, if it feels okay, notice how you feel toward the part.” And we were off walking down the path of deep and genuine work.
So, this “Finding Your Way” column is welcoming you to step up and name your parts by asking a question, sending a vignette about your learning curve, or sharing anything else that relates to your experiences on the IFS path. All parts and all contributors are welcome.