NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Friday, August 11, 2023

Developing Self Compassion in Trauma Therapy With Parts Work

I began a discussion about Parts Work therapy, which is a form of trauma therapy, in a prior article (see my article: How Parts Work Empowers You). 

Developing Self Compassion in Trauma Therapy

There are different types of Parts Work therapy, including Ego States therapy and Internal Family Systems, among others.

In that prior article I gave a basic description of Parts Work and how it's used. 

In a nutshell: Parts Work therapy assumes that we're all made up of many different parts, which are also called Self States.  

In the current article, I'm focusing on how Parts Work trauma therapy helps clients to develop self compassion.

Developing Self Compassion in Trauma Therapy

The idea of internal parts is a metaphor.  

Instead of saying "defense mechanisms," we refer to the many aspects of self as parts.

Parts Work therapy allows you to look at these aspects in terms of being parts. This is much more useful because Parts Work allows you to explore the parts by separating and externalizing them from yourself rather than thinking of them as intra-psychic phenomena, which is an intellectualized way to view them.

Externalizing the parts gives you some distance and a perspective to recognize that, although various parts might have a significant impact on you, you are not any one of these parts.  

For instance, it's common for someone to say, "A part of me feels this way, but another part of me feels another way."  Just saying this captures the ambivalence that all of us feel about certain areas of our life.

To be clear: I'm not referring to multiple personality disorder. Instead, I'm describing normal aspects of everyone's inner world.

Some of these parts are in conflict with one another, especially if a person is dealing with unresolved trauma.  Other parts are aligned and need to be unpacked in Parts Work therapy to understand how they operate.

How Does Parts Work Therapy Work?
Parts Work therapy helps clients to:
  • Identify the different parts of themselves how they are affected by other parts
  • The origin of these parts
  • How the parts are related to unresolved trauma
  • How the parts either work together or in opposition to each other
  • How to cope with these parts
  • What these parts need to be soothed so they soften and change
  • How to ask certain parts to step aside when they are getting in the way
  • How to integrate these parts in a healthy way, which is the ultimate goal
Developing Self Compassion With Parts Work Therapy
Once you begin to explore the various parts of yourself in Parts Work therapy, you're able to see that many of these parts go back to an earlier time in your life, especially if the parts are related to unresolved trauma.

Developing Self Compassion in Trauma Therapy

In Ego States therapy, clients learn to have an inner dialogue with their various parts with the help of a therapist who does this type of therapy.  

When you explore these parts, you discover that they have "good intentions" which was part of the survival strategies you learned earlier in your life and, although these strategies might have been helpful in the past (say, when you were a child), they now keep people stuck.

Many of these parts have childlike characteristics, so clients usually develop self compassion for the parts, who tried to do the best they could in the past.  

Working with the parts in Ego States therapy usually allows them to soften so they no longer get in the way and also so they change to function in a healthier way.

When a client can take a compassionate stance towards their various parts, the parts often respond to trauma therapy so they can heal and become an integrated part of the client instead of being dissociated and triggered under current triggering circumstances (see my article: Coping With Triggers).

Overcoming Trauma With Parts Work
If you have unresolved trauma that is keeping you stuck, you could benefit from doing Parts Work, like Ego States Therapy.

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help with a trauma therapist who does Parts Work therapy, so you can lead a happier and more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, Parts Work, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.