In my practice as a psychotherapist and EFT practitioner, I make extensive use of the “Parts" process, based on the NLP model of Six Step Reframe and significantly expanded and developed by Fran Burgess in her Personality Alignment approach.
Whilst helping a client to meet and communicate with their own Personality Parts can be successfully done through talk therapy alone, adding EFT to this approach significantly enhances the process of alignment and internal “peace-making.”
"One Part of Me"
When trying to make changes in your life, you may have heard yourself say something like, “One part of me really wants to be healthier and go to the gym, but another part just wants to sit in front of the TV eating crisps."
Metaphorically, you can think of your overall personality as a team of workers, all striving towards better health, well-being and success of the whole system--you! The problem arises when some of the team members do not communicate with others, or reject, oppress or even bully each other. The resultant inner conflict gets in the way of achieving our goals. We can spot such internal battles in most cases of addictions, eating disorders, autoimmune illness, procrastination, but it is also present in less obvious everyday situations – whenever it feels like we put obstacles in our own way.
The first principle for pulling this “dysfunctional team” together and helping them communicate better, is for the therapist to develop good rapport with the Part associated with the dysfunctional behavior pattern which the client wants to work on. You can also do this process yourself with the suggestions below.
Identifying the Leading Players
Whilst there may be quite a number of players in the “team," at the very least there will be two Parts who play the leading roles – the Part that is responsible for the undesirable behaviour and the Part that is critical, punitive, often perfectionist. The latter has high expectations and blames and chastises the “naughty” part when things go wrong.
When we lapse on our road to change, the internal critic will rouse such feelings of shame and guilt that the obvious solution is to tranquilise the pain with the addictive substance, food or behaviour. For this reason, it is extremely important for the therapist to show empathy and understanding for both the Parts and not to side with one against the other so as to avoid helping to reinforce the ongoing internal warfare.
Here are some basic tips on how you may incorporate Parts Work into your EFT therapy. When I get a sense of an internal conflict or sometimes simply when I hear words like “one part of me (...) and another part of me (...),” I begin to ask a series of questions:
So if the Part of you that is responsible for [drinking, smoking, procrastinating, worrying etc] was a person, what would it look like? (I give the client time to visualise the Part)
Is it male or female? (The Part can be of the same or different gender to the client, or sexless)
What is he/she wearing? (Clothing and appearance can symbolise significant aspects of the internal conflict)
How old does he/she look? (The Part can be younger, same age, older than the client, or “ageless”)
Does he/she have a name? (The name may be different or the same as client’s own name, sometimes there is no name, or just a descriptive nickname)
Finding the Job Description
The client’s feelings towards the Part can vary widely but are often negative. It is crucial that the therapist maintains neutrality and does not judge this part of the client’s personality, even if its behaviour appears very destructive (e.g. in self-harm or serious drug addictions). Occasionally I find that the Part is so fearful or suppressed that it is unable to “show up” – but for the purposes of this piece we will assume that the client has come up with some visual image of the Part.
I invite the client to tap with me, acknowledging the existence of the Part.
“Even though there is a Part of me which is responsible for my drinking, it is male, wearing filthy rags and is called Roger, I accept myself anyway.” Facing an “undesirable” Part of themselves can emphasize the difficulty the client may have with self-acceptance, and the set-up phrase may have to be modified, such as “I accept some parts of me,” “I accept most of me,” or “I’d like to accept all parts of me.”
Once we have done a round of tapping, I check with the client what the Part is looking like now. Then I ask “If this Part was trying to help in some way, what might its purpose be?” – or I may speak to the Part directly and ask “What job are you trying to do for [client’s name]?” I invite the client to say the first thing that comes to mind. The answer usually relates to some crucial function like safety and protection, being strong, motivation, connection and love – the client is often surprised by this information.
When we have identified the job of the “misbehaving” Part, I invite the client to acknowledge it through tapping:
“Even though I thought this Part of me was putting obstacles in my way, I recognise its purpose of... [include the wording of the positive intention].”
It is important to keep validating the negative emotions and beliefs that the client may still have about the “naughty” Part, also.
Occasionally, simply acknowledging the existence of the Part responsible for the undesirable behaviour and showing some understanding of it may be enough to make a dramatic change in an addictive or compulsive pattern. Often the client will come up with alternative ideas for how to fulfil that crucial task that their misguided “team member” has been trying to work towards – safety, peace, connection, joy etc. If these new awarenesses are not popping up, you could gently prompt them with phrases such as
Even though this part of me has been [include positive intention identified] through [behavior], I am curious whether there may be any other ways to achieve that.
If solutions are offered, it is important to check out with the “dysfunctional” Part whether these are acceptable to it – remember that all our Parts are terrified of being unwanted, of literally losing their job! What we are trying to achieve is NOT to “sack” the Part that has been causing trouble. What we CAN do is to give it a new job description.
A Two-Part Conversation
Often, it may not be sufficient just to acknowledge the internal Part responsible for the unwanted behaviour, and we need to summon the perfectionist, critical Part (call it Part B), who is in direct conflict with Part A. I ask questions on the lines of “Is there a Part that is critical of, or does not like Part A?” Inevitably, the client will recognise this Part – in fact it has probably already popped up during the session if the client has been saying disparaging or critical things about Part A.
I would ask the client questions about Part B, and then tap on the client’s description of it, to acknowledge its presence, its purpose and the positive intention.
I will sometimes ask the client to draw the two conflicting Parts – and any other Parts who may be present! - on a piece of paper (drawing skill is unimportant here). This makes it easier to examine the relationship between the two. You can explore this in client’s imagination if they are reluctant to draw.
I ask questions such as:
How far away are they from each other?
Are they looking at each other or away?
What are their facial expressions?
Are they hearing each other?
What do they feel about each other?
What do they want from each other?
We tap on these answers using the client’s words as accurately as possible, without distorting them or trying to force any shifts in the imagery – these will happen all on their own with tapping. If the client has done a drawing, they may make any alteration or additions to the drawing that seem significant.
You are likely to find that whilst at first the two parts may have been positioned in two far corners of the paper (or client’s visual field) and were scowling at each other, through tapping they may gradually move closer and seem to open up to one other. Their appearance, age, clothing may begin to transform. Feelings of love, compassion, warmth, and often tears begin to arise, sometimes very slowly and cautiously, sometimes in a big gush.
Client-Led Integration of Parts
It is not uncommon for the client to spontaneously make a symbolic gesture of holding, hugging or otherwise accepting the previously rejected and despised part of themselves. It is important to note here that there are some techniques in NLP and other therapeutic modalities where the therapist encourages the client to “integrate” or “bring in” the rejected part of themselves – but if the client is not yet ready for this profound process the attempt could further intensify the conflict. Far safer, in my experience, to gently tap on whatever arises, and allow the process to take place naturally and organically.
The details of these transformations are utterly unique to each individual and the length of time that true integration may take can vary widely. It is crucially important for the therapist not to hold pre-conceived ideas. It is vital for the therapist to model patience, respect, and non-judgement towards all aspects of the client’s personality and experience. In addition to the healing properties of EFT, this is the most important component of healing these internal wars that are such a common part of the process of human change, development and transformation.
Masha Bennett is an EFT International Accredited Certified EFT Master Trainer of Trainers and Advanced Practitioner. She is also a Registered Neurolinguistic Psychotherapist. She combines her private therapy and training practice with work as a psychological therapist in the UK National Health Service, and has taught EFT to professionals and general public in the UK, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Russia and other countries. www.practicalhappiness.co.uk
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of EFT International .
Originally published on December 10, 2011.