In a State-of-Being Flashback to Interpersonal CCTs from Childhood? Internal Family Systems Therapy Helps

“How can we help someone who comes flooded by an inner part of themselves to a therapy session?” asked a therapist over on an Internal Family Systems LinkedIn group. Here’s a copy of my own Inner Exile’s answer. Does it match yours?   

(If you’re new to Internal Family Systems, Professor Google can help you learn this valuable approach to healing. Meanwhile, the basics: “Exiles” are parts, or aspects of our total selves, that have been upset and upsetting in the past, and so have been pushed out of our conscious sense of who we are. “FireFighters” are parts, or aspects of our total selves, who come screaming onto the potential disaster scene with the equivalent of axes and hoses, with the intent of protecting us from disaster)

Let your Beloved Little (Ex)Exile and your Inner Therapist peek over your shoulder as you read this:

“Dear Fellow Therapists:

“My Beloved Little Exile–well, (Ex)exile actually–asked me to respond to your question about how to help when she has flooded my entire consciousness…..she thinks you sound caring and open and she wants her story to help other therapists and other Beloved Little Exiles.

“I am a therapist with a very common history of Chronic Covert Traumas such as non-responsiveness and unattunement in my childhood interpersonal relationships. Because these Chronic Covert Traumas are so ordinary, I have often gotten triggered by ordinary exchanges with other people, including therapists. When I’ve gotten triggered my Beloved Little Exile part has popped up and I have found myself in places, including therapy, in a State-of-Being Flashback (alternatively known as Emotional Flashback or Mood Flashback) to my Chronic Covert Trauma.

“Here’s what my Beloved Little (Ex)Exile wants you to know about handling those hard times when she has been the part that flooded my consciousness experience.

“My BLE wants you to know the best thing is when you do Direct Access with her…… just as though you were a nice person who found her all bunched up and scared and ashamed because some well meaning Mommy told her “big girls don’t cry” or “go take a nice deep breath and listen to your nice music and think of happy things” or “calm down,” or “turn the corners of your mouth up, you look so pretty when you smile.” Continue reading

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