Detecting New Parts

Originally published in  Coaching for Transformation

Listening to parts is usually very simple as long as we hold respect. Perhaps the trickiest part of the process is noticing when a new part comes into the system. But how do we know if it’s the same part or a different part? The telltale sign is a shift in emotion or energy. The body or the voice might shift too. When a part expresses a radical change in its belief or shifts to holding a new set of values, that’s usually a sign that another part has decided to speak.

If the Strict Parent part suddenly says, “Well maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to give the children more freedom to make their own choices and mistakes,” that’s not the Strict Parent part having an epiphany, it’s the Lenient Parent wanting to be heard.… Read more

Getting to Know Parts

Originally published in  Coaching for Transformation

Instead of talking about the parts, we talk about the parts. We invite parts to speak for themselves, to share their viewpoint, feelings, and needs in their own words. Parts express surprise and delight when they finally get a chance to speak. Even more important, when they learn that the client is truly eager to listen—that’s where the healing begins.

Just like people, parts want to be known and appreciated. Thanking these parts for their service goes a long way toward helping them feel valued.

Many parts will speak of their own accord without much prompting.… Read more

Active Imagination

Originally published in  Coaching for Transformation

One of the ways clients can continue to work with parts is to ask them to practice Active Imagination as homework. Active Imagination is a Jungian technique developed to help people interpret their dreams. Like writing a play, we write a script, speaking with a part that appeared in our dream or in our psyche. In writing, we ask the part why it has appeared now. Then, imagining we are the part, we include the part’s response in the script, and continue the dialog by asking curious questions such as: What is your role? What do you do?… Read more

Transformation of Parts

Originally published in  Coaching for Transformation

Most parts do not want or need to be transformed. They just need to be heard. Once clients integrate the information from multiple parts, they can make informed decisions about what changes they wish to make.

Above all else, parts need to be loved exactly as they are. If they get a hint that we are trying to change them, they interpret that as judgment, and rightly so. Coaches can get into trouble if we imply there is anything wrong with the part. One whiff of that and the part feels misunderstood and loses trust.… Read more

Structuring a Session

Originally published in  Coaching for Transformation

Prepare for the session

1) Take a moment to self-connect, remember your coach’s stand and set your intention to serve your client.

2) Connect with your client.

3) Get clear about your client’s intention for the session.

4) Explain the purpose of Embracing the Shadow—to create space for parts to be acknowledged.

5) Ensure that your client is ready to begin.

Begin the session

1) Identify a part that would like to be understood more fully.

2) Get permission from the protectors to talk to the part.

3) Ask the client to move to a new place in the room to embody that part.… Read more

Working with an Internal Oppressor

Originally published in Coaching for Transformation

Carl Rogers said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” The same is true about accepting parts. Instead of admonishing or fighting against an internal oppressor, if we simply witness and accept the oppressors’ beliefs and emotions, we move closer to a mindful state that helps parts relax.

If we’re part of a marginalized group and we experience prejudice, we often internalize oppression over time. Consciously or unconsciously, a part of us believes in the stereotypes and holds an oppressive view toward our identity group, whether we’re a person of color, a woman, LGBTQQ, working class or survivors of other social constructs.… Read more

Self Integration

Originally published in  Coaching for Transformation

At the center of the psyche is the Self, which is compassionate and wise. The Self integrates the work of the parts as they help us to cope, deal with difficulties or protect us from pain. The Self is not a part; it acts as a witness or a conductor who becomes increasingly aware of parts and can bring all parts into alignment. The Self sits in the seat of benevolent sovereignty. When the coach helps the client separate parts from the Self and listens to each other, it creates opportunities for choice that benefit the whole system.… Read more

Identifying Parts

Originally Published in  Coaching for Transformation

Once you realize that a part is calling for attention or blocking your progress, you need to find the right one so that you can talk to it. It is crowded in your psyche; just calling for any part is like shouting “Hey, you!” at a party. You’ll probably get a response, but not necessarily from the one you want. So, how do you identify and call the part you’re looking for?


The simplest way to invite a part into a dialogue is to ask for it by name:

“I want to talk to my Protector (or Critic, Perfectionist, Pleaser, Skeptic, etc.)”… Read more

Honoring all Parts

Originally published in  Coaching for Transformation

The beauty of Embracing the Shadow is that we create opportunities for inclusion. As a result, people develop a loving relationship with themselves and others. This radical approach to coaching includes deep listening and gratitude for the role each part plays.

The human psyche has many parts, which are natural and healthy. All parts of the psyche have a positive intent, even parts that are stuck in contentious roles. As coaches, we listen for the noble purpose of all parts, regardless of their role. We listen to parts the same way we listen to people, picking up on their longing for transformation.… Read more

The Internal Community

Originally published in Coaching for Transformation

Similar to the way we interact with our community or family, friends and the world, we also interact with an internal community. The internal community is that group of internal parts of the psyche that direct our lives. Each part has an important purpose, without exception. Our role as coaches is to help clients learn to embrace their parts, exactly as they are. Even when a part behaves harshly, we look beneath the words or vicious behavior to understand its positive intent. If we appreciate each part’s attempt to contribute, honor the important role the part is playing and thank it for its years of service, the part feels seen, heard and understood.… Read more