What is Parts Work?
"Parts Work" or Ego State Therapy, is a type of therapy that suggests that we are all made up of "parts" that can think, feel and act differently from each other. If you've ever found yourself saying something like "a part of me knows I need to get up for work, but a part of me wants to stay in bed and sleep" then you understand the fundamentals of Parts Work.
When we've been through trauma, sometimes parts of ourselves can replay past hurts, which leave us feeling stuck feeling or acting in a way we didn't intend to.
There are a few models that fit under the "Parts Work/Ego State Therapy" umbrella, including Internal Family Systems (IFS), the Structural Dissociation Model, Resource Therapy, and the one we practice here most often: Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS).
How your parts show up in the day-to-day
With Parts Work, we realize that there are parts of us that have different - and sometimes directly opposing - ways of thinking, feeling and acting. For example, if you're looking for therapy, there might be a part of you that is eager to find the right-fit therapist so that you can finally heal. That's the part of you that will show up to that first therapy session, ready to give it all a try. At the very same time, there might be a part of you that is afraid of starting, that might want to protect you from disappointment by thinking none of it is going to work. That part of you might lead you to show up late, or cancel a session altogether. In that case, both of those are parts at work, thinking, feeling and acting differently from each other.
In other moments, you might notice different parts of you at play when you feel "stuck" acting or feeling in a way that you can't seem to shake. You go out to an event, for example, intending to have fun, and find that you can't shake the feeling that you're a shy kid instead of a confident adult. Or maybe a coworker said something to you that has left you feeling depressed and worthless all day. No matter how many times you convince yourself "what they said doesn't matter", you still feel worthless.
If the trauma you went through was more about the safety of your environment, you might find a part of you getting stuck in "scanning mode" anxiously looking for threats even when you try to relax.
You might think of all of these states of mind and being as a part of you that is feeling and acting a certain way than is different than how another part of you wants to.
How Parts Work Therapy works
With relationship-related trauma, what often happens is that there is a part of you that gets stuck in the past, not able to heal from the way you've been hurt by others. That part of you might replay the same feelings or thoughts or actions from back then, now, even when it no longer helps.
Parts work is all about learning about the different parts of ourselves, including the parts that are stuck or hurt, as well as the parts of ourselves that can help, and figuring out how to get them all to work together. Parts work helps us heal and makes it easier to shift gears in and out of certain states when we need to.
Deep Healing with Parts Work
What makes Parts Work different than traditional therapy is that it heals at the core. Rather than simply addressing the symptoms - eg, how to feel less anxious in the moment (which Parts Work does address) - it goes deeper. It deals with the parts of us that are stuck and frozen in from past hurts and gives us the tools to heal so that we can move throughout our day, our relationships, and our communities in healthier ways.
Interested in Parts Work therapy?
Start a session today with one of our parts work therapists today.