Self-Therapy Journey as an Adjunct to IFS Therapy

Self-Therapy Journey (STJ) is an interactive online tool based on IFS that enables people to systematically classify, explore, and transform their psychological issues. It is the first general-purpose web application for psychological work.

This page discusses the various ways that STJ can be a useful adjunct to IFS therapy.

Discovering a Client’s Parts

Of the parts that can be affecting a client’s life, some are more obvious than others. A client will bring up certain parts that he or she knows are causing problems. For example, a client might say that it is hard for her to leave a relationship even though she can see that it isn’t good for her, because she feels dependent on her partner. Each type of part corresponds to a pattern in STJ. This client has the Dependent Pattern, and she will probably realize that she can work on it using Self-Therapy Journey (STJ).

Some parts (patterns) are fairly easy for you to spot, even if the client doesn’t see them. For example, if you recognize that a client finds it hard to assert herself with her husband and is constantly trying to please him, this is clearly the People-Pleasing Pattern, and you can recommend that your client work on this pattern in STJ.

With patterns that are subtler, the Pattern System and STJ can be particularly helpful in identifying something that you might otherwise have missed. For example, a client might have a Passive-Aggressive Pattern, which involves appearing to be a pleaser but actually causing people frustration and pain through unconscious and indirect aggression. Your client might discover that he has this pattern by taking one of the STJ quizzes or you may realize it as you study the Pattern System.

Most clients are very interested in taking the STJ quizzes and gain considerable insight into their issues and parts as a result.

Insight into a Protector and its Motivations

Once a client chooses a pattern to work on, STJ takes her through a series of pages where she explores her unique version of this pattern, her part. She learns about her feelings and behavior when the part is activated and the circumstances under which it tends to get triggered. She gives it a name and chooses an image of what it looks like.

STJ provides information about the typical kinds of motivations for each type of protector (pattern) a client may have. The client can look over the list and check off those that intuitively fit. For example, if the client is working on the People-Pleasing Pattern, she might realize that her People-Pleasing Part is afraid of being judged if it doesn't please people. Or it might be afraid of being abandoned if she asserts herself.

At the Change or Transformation Level, STJ provides a guided meditation for each pattern which takes the client through the first part of an IFS session where the client gets to know that protector, finds out what it is protecting against and why, and develops a trusting relationship with it. This will give the client even more reliable information about the motivations for the protector.

Working with Exiles

STJ also helps you and your client discover the exiles that are being protected by each protector. As with protectors, this is also done in two ways. For each motivation for a pattern, there is an associated wound (type of exile, actually a type of burden for an exile). For example, if your People-Pleasing Part is afraid of being abandoned, then it is protecting an exile who was abandoned as a child, which has the Abandonment Wound.

At the Transformation Level, your client can choose to go through a  series of pages to explore her Abandonment Wound, including what happened in childhood to cause the wound. In addition, the client can engage in a guided meditation that takes her though the steps for healing and unburdening an abandoned exile.

Therapy Sessions and STJ Sessions

When you work on a certain part with a client in a session and the work is not yet finished (as is often the case), your client can continue that work on their own with STJ. This empowers them and gives them a greater sense of being in charge of their own work. And because of the structured nature of STJ, it keeps track of everything they do, so you can know exactly what they have done and where to go next.

Clients can also choose to work on issues that they are interested in using STJ and then continue the work with you afterward. If a client gets stuck in their STJ work, you can help them work through that block in a session so they can carry own successfully on their own.

STJ is especially useful for clients who can't afford to see you every week and yet need weekly work. They can work on themselves in those weeks when they can't see you, and in this way continue their work and enhance the effectiveness of your work with them.

Healthy Capacities

IFS tends to focus on difficult protectors, and painful exiles (as do most forms of therapy in their own way). However, clients often feel empowered by recognizing the healthy capacities they can develop, which is a healthy part in IFS terms. For each problematic pattern, STJ helps clients to explore the healthy capacity that can transform and replace that pattern and exactly which aspects of that capacity they want to have more of. For example, if a client has the People-Pleasing Pattern, it is helpful for them to know that Assertiveness is what transforms it and what Assertiveness consists of.

Real-Time Practice

If you are like most therapists, you don't assign homework practices for your clients, or you just do it informally on occasion. STJ can help you do this in a much more consistent, structured, and helpful way. For each pattern (protector), STJ helps clients create a detailed, structured homework practice for replacing that pattern with the corresponding healthy capacity. It also provides tracking pages to help clients track what happened as they did the practice. This makes it more likely that they will follow through with the practice, and to make improvements to the practice so it will be more successful.

I have also had some clients who couldn't accept a homework assignment from me without rebelling against it because it came from an authority figure, but when they create one on their own using STJ, they have no problem following through.


There is even more. STJ also contains guided meditations for working through polarization and for negotiating with a protector to let the client lead from Self in a particular situation that is coming up shortly in their life.

Learning about STJ

I have written a booklet, The Professionals' Guide to Self-Therapy Journey, which describes STJ in quite a bit of detail. You can read it to get a good idea of how STJ works. Click here to download it for free.

I also recommend that you explore STJ itself to see how it works. I frequently teach free webinars on STJ or on how to transform specific patterns using STJ. Feel free to watch and join in.


"Change" Enrollment Level

  • Psychological insight
  • Behavior change
  • Experiential (IFS) therapy
For people who want to…
  • Engage in experiential therapy for more complete behavior change
  • Augment their coaching or psychotherapy with self-therapy
  • Learn how to use IFS
Click here for more information. 


"Transformation" Enrollment Level

  • Psychological insight
  • Behavior change
  • Experiential depth (IFS) therapy
  • Personality transformation
For people who want to…
  • Dedicate themselves to personal growth work
  • Engage in depth therapy for full transformation
  • Explore and heal their childhood wounds
  • Augment their psychotherapy with self-therapy
Click here for more information.