Internal Family Systems - Beginning In March 2017 I joined the innagural Internal Family Systems (IFS) nine month intensive Training Program in Los Angeles which is an integrative approach to individual psychotherapy based on the work of Richard C. Schwartz . The methods of IFS are complementary with other therapeutic modalities including Somatic Experiencing and EMDR. Internal Family Systems sees people as being whole, underneath this collection of parts. Everyone has a true self or spiritual center, known as the Self to distinguish it from the parts. Even people whose experience is dominated by parts have access to this Self and its healing qualities of curiosity, connectedness, compassion, and calmness. IFS sees the therapist's job as helping the client to disentangle themselves from their parts and access the Self, which can then connect with each part and heal it, so that the parts can let go of their destructive roles and enter into a harmonious collaboration led by the Self. IFS explicitly recognizes the spiritual nature of the Self, allowing the model to be helpful in spiritual development as well as psychological healing. It is a creative and variable approach to increase self harmony and well being.

Co-dependency - The term Co-dependency became popular in the 1970’s after Mellody Beatty wrote about the crazymaking experiences of family members of active alcoholics.  There are many ways to describe this issue and one of my favorite definitions come from Pia Mellody whose model of childhood trauma is the foundation of the treatment at The Meadows; a world class treatment facility for Trauma, Addiction, and Mood Disorders. Pia states that when a person denies their own reality for some perceived gain with another person that is co-dependent. Pia’s model illustrates how when well meaning parents don’t understand the intrinsic nature of children they can transmit feelings of shame (“there’s something wrong with me”) and worthlessness (“I don’t matter”)  which results in Relational trauma that inhibits healthy connection and intimacy.

Boundaries - When children grow up in a home where they are treated as an extension of their caregivers or if their personal physical space is violated by physical or sexual abuse they often grow up as adults who struggle with establishing safety in relationships. They frequently feel challenged to say “No” and attend to their own needs without experiencing guilt.  While they may have adult responsibilities and be parents themselves often people whose boundaries were ruptured as children stay developmentally young and can feel overwhelmed by the needs of family, friends, and co-workers.