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clinical experience and research, I propose that an epidemic,
little-known personal and social
stressor is psychological
Web site is devoted to
these wounds and their toxic
Lesson 1 differs from other personal-recovery
programs by proposing how to intentionally retrain and harmonize the
that comprise your
or "parts work."
I have heard
similar spontaneous comments like those below from hundreds of therapy clients, students, and
Website visitors since 1992.
Peter Gerlach, MSW
"Dear Pete -
I just wanted to thank you for the information on the
sfhelp.org website and share what it has done for me.
About a year ago a relationship I was in ended badly. I
had become to attached to her, had placed too much of my energy on her, and
when it ended I was very hurt. After a few weeks of rather severe
I had started asking a lot of questions about myself and doing a lot of
research on psycho-logy. I have long been diagnosed with
and most of my life have been rather moody. This has never been
severe enough to seriously affect my life, but it has left me enjoying life
less than I would like to.
In my search to improve my life, I discovered Buddhism and
systems I had never explored before. These things agreed with me and I
delved into the subject as a means to restore meaning and hope in my
life. The main message I got from all the reading I did was that the
secret was to get in touch with your
and learn to listen to
acknowledge them and learn what they had
to say, and then compassionately let them go.
While I agreed with this and had moderate success, I
found that all to often my thoughts and emotions would get carried away and
I could not maintain control. I became rather frustrated as I knew *what* I
wanted to accomplish but never knew *how.*
For a while now I have been in a relationship with a wonderful
widow with two children. A few weeks ago we decided to take the next step
and move in together. I adore her children and they are very excited about
this, but I was curious as to what conflicts might come up and what I could
do to help them ease into their new life. That's when I came across the
articles you wrote on sfhelp.org.
Immediately diving into
a lot of things started making
to me. I noticed that I have often felt
sometimes unable to
figure out how I really felt about a person or situation. Some-times I
argue with myself. Sometimes I am fairly self confident, other times
insecure. Sometimes I am happy and outgoing, and sometimes I am
irritable and want to be left alone.
I've realized I am this way for a
while, but had never been able to make sense of it. Over the past year I
have done a lot of meditation, self analysis, and observations through
which I have learned a great deal about myself, but never figured out
what to do about it, which was very
The concept of
Internal Family Systems (IFS) is the only thing I have
across which accurately explains the way I feel and act and gives a
concrete technique I can use to work on my problems. Already I have
found that it is much easier to gain insight into why I feel certain
ways by asking the responsible parts.
Before I would just sit there and
wonder with no idea what was really going on. By simply asking and
listening for an answer, I can actually accomplish things! I have a lot
of work to do, but your articles have given me hope that things can get
better and I can learn to change.
A few weeks ago was the anniversary of my girlfriend's former
her husband committed
last year and needless to say this was a
difficult day for her. As we were talking about it, I used some
with a few guiding
questions to find out what she
was thinking and feeling. We talked about her
she sometimes got mad at herself for not being able to get over his
death, and how she sometimes felt
because she failed him. It
became pretty clear that she had conflicting feelings about his death
and I decided it was time to share the IFS ideas with her. She was
intrigued and wanted to know more.
I have ordered your
book and we
have decided to both read it and discuss
how it applies to our lives and our relationship. So not only does this
have the potential to help my life, but also to help her
and promote a happier life for us
together, as well as her kids.
The potential this has to
improve my life, and the lives of those I care
about is wonderful. Thank you again for the research you have done
making that information freely available to everyone."
- Name withheld by request
Here's another personal reaction to the Inner Family
Systems (IFS) approach to wound-healing ("parts work"). This
was a follow-up to a brief, unsolicited affirmation of IFS
after the author scanned "Lesson 1" in this Web site. - PKG
"IFS helped me to get to the core of myself. Instead of
feeling, or rather believing, that I was the anger or fear,
victimized child, or the cold protective person that I had
felt much of my life, I realized that underneath all of
those feelings I was a confident, creative, strong,
centered, calm individual. Certainly I did have those
feeling of anger, victimization, and alienating protection,
but they no longer defined who I was or limited my life.
I could identify them when
I felt them and determine if they were truly relevant for
the current situation or were they remnants of the past? I
could speak FOR these feelings, not FROM these feelings.
IFS is client centered/driven. With the help of the
therapist, I was able to free myself.
Through the process
of unburdening, I freed myself from old beliefs, feelings,
and baggage. I could now run my life instead of the deep
feelings running my life for me. I wish that this mode of
therapy/ healing was more well known and available to
everyone. It is such a gentle, respectful way to heal and
move forward in life." - Michelle M., Seattle, WA