Enormously hopeful and empowering, this book illuminates the process of Internal Family Systems (IFS) as a method of self-therapy that centers on the revolutionary principle that all of us have a Self. Presenting a view of the human psyche with this calm, compassionate, curious Self at the center, Jay Earley takes the reader step-by-step through a method of self-exploration which views overwhelming emotion and dysfunctional behavior as stemming from parts that are doing their best to help the person survive. Earley's writing is beautifully organized and clear,as compassionate and respectful as the process he is teaching, and the reader is supported and encouraged at every step. Anyone wishing to live a fuller, richer,more meaningful life, or help others do so, needs to read this book. --Ann Weiser Cornell, PhD, author of The Power of Focusing and The Radical Acceptance of Everything
The non-pathologizing and empowering aspects of the IFS Model find their ultimate expression in Dr. Earley's book, Self-Therapy. Exercises, illustrations, and session transcripts supplement this detailed approach for individuals to safely work alone or with a peer to transform their inner worlds dominated by outmoded beliefs to lives filled with love, compassion, and connection. Therapists, too, will appreciate this clear map of the inner territory of the psyche and will find this book a valuable and accessible resource for their clients. --Susan McConnell, senior IFS trainer
Jay has the gift of both insight and teaching--and he uses both in his new book. He allows us access to the many many layers of our selves and helps us to understand, work with and ultimately feel harmonious with behaviors that have baffled us. Self-therapy is a wonderful cogent guide written by a wonderful cogent teacher. --Geneen Roth, author of When Food is Love and Women Food and God
From the Author
1. Personal Healing and Growth the IFS Way
2. Your Internal System: Summary of the IFS Model
3. Taking an Inner Journey: Example of an IFS Session
Part I: Self and Protectors
4. Getting Acquainted Inside: Accessing Your Parts
5. Becoming Centered: Unblending from a Protector
6. Being Open and Curious: Unblending from a Concerned Part
7. Knowing Yourself: Discovering a Protector's Role
8. Befriending Yourself: Developing a Trusting Relationship with a Protector
9. Keeping Sessions on Track: Detecting Parts that Arise
Part II: Exiles and Unburdening
10. Being Allowed In: Getting Permission to Work with an Exile
11. Uncovering Your Pain: Getting to Know an Exile
12. Finding Where It Started: Accessing and Witnessing Childhood Memories
13. Caring for an Inner Child: Reparenting and Retrieving an Exile
14. Healing a Wounded Child: Unburdening an Exile
15. Transforming a Protective Role into a Healthy One: Unburdening a Protector
16. Supporting the Therapy Process: Tips on Working Alone, with a Partner, or with a Therapist
Appendix A: Help Sheet for the IFS Process
Appendix B: IFS Resources
From the Foreword
One way to judge a model of psychotherapy is by the kind of people it
attracts. The fact that Jay Earley wrote this book is high praise for the IFS
model because he was an accomplished writer and thinker, steeped in
systems thinking, long before encountering IFS. Jay's passion has been to
introduce IFS to a lay audience in such a way that people can work with
their parts on their own--without the need for a therapist. He has been
pursuing this goal with great success through his teleconference classes
for several years. Through those experiences, he developed the structure
of this book.
Another way to judge a model of psychotherapy is by whether
it fosters dependence on the therapist or empowers people to trust
themselves. This book can help you bring a new sense of compassion and
healing to yourself without having to be in therapy. Through Jay's userfriendly
description of IFS, you will begin to change how you do "self talk,"
or internal dialogue. As you relate to even your most shameful emotions
and impulses with curiosity rather than judgment and with caring rather
than disgust, you will find that these parts of you are not what they seem.
They are valuable inner resources that have been distorted by difficult
life experiences. Even more uplifting, you will learn that you have a core,
an essence, that is untouched by life's traumas. What IFS calls the Self is
in every one of us; it is a source of wonderful qualities from which we
can lead our inner and outer lives. In this way, the book releases our selfconcepts
from the pathological and pessimistic way we have been taught
to view ourselves. It proposes a new, optimistic, and edifying vision of the
mind and shows how easily it can change and heal.
This book does even more than that. Yet another way to judge a
psychotherapy is by whether it merely teaches people to cope with their extreme emotions and beliefs or actually transforms those emotions and
beliefs. Through well-described experiential exercises and examples of
actual IFS sessions, you will be able to enter your inner world in such a
way that your extreme parts begin to heal. Rather than just coping with
them, you welcome them and transform them into valuable resources.
You are also encouraged to form partnerships with friends in which you
accompany each other on these inner journeys, which can deepen your
This may all sound too good to be true, and for some readers
it will be. There will be some who cannot achieve this kind of change
on their own and will need to find a therapist to help them. My twentyseven
years of experience using this model, however, tell me that many
people can do a great deal of work on themselves without a therapist.
They may not be able to unburden all their exiles, but they can reverse
the atmosphere of their inner worlds from one of self-loathing to self-love
and Self-leadership. Also, people who are in therapy will find the book a
useful guide for their between-session work on themselves.
Therapy is too expensive in both time and money for many
people. I'm grateful that this book allows IFS to extend its reach to those
who would not otherwise have access to it.
Richard C. Schwartz, PhD, creator of IFS, author of Internal Family Systems
Therapy, The Mosaic Mind, and You Are The One You've Been Waiting For.