Stage 1 User's Guide

This stage takes you through a step sequence to help you understand your pattern, how it operates, which part of you enacts this pattern, and the underlying psychological dynamics behind it. You also get a customized report on your version of this pattern that summarizes all the material you have entered.

The Behaviors Page deals with your behavior and feelings when this pattern is activated. There is a checklist of various possibilities for how you act and feel. For example, for the People-Pleasing Pattern, one of the behaviors is: “It is hard for me to disagree with my partner or friends.” You can also add other behaviors that come to mind. All checklists are customizable; you can always add your own entries after the listed choices.

The Name Page begins to look at the part of you that enacts this pattern. Working with parts (subpersonalities) comes from IFS Therapy, though many other therapy systems also deal with parts. Seeing things in terms of parts is a way of helping an aspect of the psyche come alive for you and become easier to work with.

On this page, you can choose a name for your part. For example, someone might call his People-Pleasing Part “the Yes Man.” The parts that enact the patterns are called protectors in IFS because they defend against feeling your underlying pain.

On the Image Page, you can choose an image of what your part looks like. You can choose from a series of images or upload your own (perhaps after finding it on Google Images), or you can type in a description of the image you have in your mind.

The Statements Page lists various statements that this part might make. Alternatively, you can see these as thoughts related to the pattern. For example, a People-Pleasing Part might say, “Even if I feel differently from my partner or friend, it isn’t worth disagreeing.”
Criticized Child Feelings Page. This page only appears for patterns can have an Inner Critic aspect. An Inner Critic is a part that attacks, judges, and doubts us, leading to low self-esteem and other problems. There are six patterns currently in the system that can have an Inner Critic aspect—the Taskmaster, Perfectionist, Food Controller, Underminer, and Destroyer Patterns, and the Inner Critic Pattern itself. 

Some of the emotions and negative beliefs that you have when this pattern is triggered will come from what we call the Criticized Child (which is an exile or wounded inner child part) rather than the Inner Critic. For example, if you have a Taskmaster Pattern that involves judging you about not working hard enough, the feelings of your Taskmaster Part might be anger and dismissal. The feelings of your Criticized Child might be inadequacy and worthlessness.

The judgments from the Inner Critic hurt the Criticized Child and also trigger the wounds it already has from childhood. This page gives you a chance to explore these child feelings and distinguish them from the feelings of the Critic.

Meditation Page. You can learn about your pattern in a more experiential way by engaging in a guided meditation (based on IFS). This involves going inside and contacting the part that drives the pattern through feelings, images, and internal dialogue.

You are guided into accessing what IFS calls the Self, which is an internal state of open curiosity, connection, and compassion. From there, you open a dialogue with the part to understand its underlying motivation and develop a trusting relationship with it. IFS work brings the therapy more alive and allows for greater insight and psychological healing. The guided meditation takes 25–35 minutes. You have a choice of listening to a recording (with or without music) or reading the meditation to yourself. If you are not interested in experiential work or guided meditations, you can skip this page and still get a fair amount from STJ.

Since a recorded meditation can’t go at the right speed for everyone, there is a pause button, which you can use whenever you need more time for a certain segment of the meditation.

To listen to a sample extracted from one of these guided meditations, click

The Motivation Page lists common motivations behind this pattern, such as fears, desires, or inner conflicts. For example, one motivation for People-Pleasing is: “I am afraid of being rejected if I don’t please people or if I assert myself.” These constitute the underlying psychological dynamics behind the pattern. You are likely to have more than one of these motivations. Even if the motivations (which are the motivations of your part) aren’t completely conscious, you will likely be able to intuit which of the listed options fit. You check off as many as apply.

The Motivation Page is important because, in Stage 2, these motivations lead to the childhood origins of the pattern, and in Stage 4, they lead to working through the fears or other motivations. The motivations that you check off on this page determine your options in Stages 2 and 4. So if you get to Stage 2 or 4 and determine that the existing options don’t seem right, you may need to go back to this page and check off more motivations.

Colluding Patterns Page. You may have certain patterns that are colluding with or that work in conjunction with the pattern you are working on. These colluding patterns may even provide some of the motivation for the problematic behavior that comes from this pattern. For example, if you have a People-Pleasing Pattern as a way of trying to take care of people excessively, your People-Pleasing Pattern would be in service of your Caretaking Pattern, and therefore Caretaking would be a colluding pattern with People-Pleasing.

You might need to work through one or more of these colluding patterns before you will be able to completely transform the pattern you are working on. This page lists possible colluding patterns and allows you to choose to switch patterns and work on one of them now or mark one to explore later.

Report Page contains a customized report on your pattern, which is a compilation of all the information you have entered about it. You can make changes or add items to the checklists as you read through the report. The report is also accessible from your Dashboard. Reports can be printed out or accessed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Reports can be printed out or accessed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. In the lower left corner of each page are two icons. The pdf icon creates an exact pdf of that page. The printer icon prints a report in a more readable form without the left and right columns.

Interlude Page. At the end of each stage, it is a good idea to take a break, get up from your computer, move around and stretch, or do whatever helps you relax. You might want to jot down some sentences or a poem, or journal more fully about your experience. You may even want to end the session at this point and start on the next stage at a different time.

It can be helpful to allow time and space for the insights you have gained to percolate in your mind and the emotions that have been stirred up to be processed and integrated. The page provides homework to help you sharpen your awareness of what you learned in this stage.

Stage 1 Intro Video

XIn IFS, exiles are young child parts that are in pain from the past. Exiles are often stuck at a particular time in childhood, at a specific age. They are frozen at that time because something difficult or traumatic happened then, and you didn't have the inner resources or the external support to handle it. They are exiled from your inner life and kept in dark dungeons away from the light of consciousness. An exile is usually caught up in its own little world and is unaware that you have grown up and developed new strengths. Whenever something happens in the present that is similar to the old pain, it reactivates that pain.

XIn IFS, the job of a protector is to keep you from feeling pain. Some protectors block off pain that is arising inside you so that you can't feel it at all. Others try to arrange your external world so that nothing happens to trigger pain in the first place. And some do both.

Protectors try to arrange your life and your psyche so that you are always in a kind of comfort zone and you never feel hurt, shame, or fear. They attempt to protect you from hurtful incidents or distressing relationships in your current life that could bring up buried pain from childhood.
XIFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy) is a new cutting-edge form of individual therapy developed by pioneering psychologist Richard Schwartz, PhD, that provides a step-by-step approach to creating inner wholeness. 

IFS enables you to understand each of the parts of your psyche, sometimes called subpersonalities. You can think of them as little people inside you. Each has its own perspective, feelings, memories, goals, and motivations. For example, one part of you might be trying to lose weight, and another part might want to eat whatever you want. We all have many different parts, such as the procrastinator, the lover, the inner critic, the lonely child, the rebel, the caretaker, and so on.

IFS also recognizes that we each have a spiritual center, the Self, which is compassionate, understanding, and grounded. Through IFS you can learn to stay in Self, develop a relationship with each of your parts, and heal them. This is quite empowering because the healing comes from you.

Click here to read a one page article on IFS.

Click here to see Jay Earley's IFS website.

Click here to see Richard Schwartz's official IFS website.

To learn about the details of IFS, read Jay's book Self-Therapy.
XParts are natural divisions in the psyche, sometimes called subpersonalities. You can think of parts as little people inside you. Each has its own perspective, beliefs, feelings, memories, and motivations. You may have heard of the "inner critic" and the "inner child," the most famous of our parts. But these are simple concepts that only begin to touch on the richness and complexity of our inner life. Our inner family may include a lonely baby, a wise mentor, an angry child, a stern mother, a calm meditator, a magician, a happy animal, a closed-off protector, and so on. Each part gets activated at certain times. Some of our parts are in pain, and others want to protect us from feeling that pain. Some parts perform roles that are healthy and functional.