We work in a well-developed and rapidly growing field. There are many therapeutic frameworks that can be utilized for healing.
Parts Work, a branch of Internal Family Systems, is an approach that many of our clinicians integrate into their work. In a conversation with our clinician Aurena Green, we explored the concept of an Inner Compass – a Parts Work-based tool she applies with her clients to facilitate healing.
Unpacking Parts Work
“Parts Work is based on the premise that as we move through our lives, we develop different personality traits and ways of being,” Green shares. “These parts help us to adapt and survive in our environments.”
In time, parts that served us well or helped us live through adverse circumstances may begin to inhibit us from living the lives we want. Habits, mindsets, or beliefs that develop as a result of trauma make-up these parts and often outlive their usefulness.
This is one reason why nonverbal therapy can be effective in healing from trauma. Parts work is a talk-therapy and somatic approach that many of our clinicians have facilitated healing outcomes with as well.
Uncovering Layers of the Self
Working with clients to identify and heal part of themselves involves helping them tune-in to their bodies. “In trauma work, one of the things that so commonly happens is that people disconnect from their bodies because being present feels unsafe,” Green shares.
For some clients, getting to a place where it’s safe to ask them, “What is happening in your body?” takes time. Once we are able to therapeutically tap into the wisdom of the body, so much healing can occur.
The Inner Compass
Our Wise, Core, Inner compass is defined as the part of us that is compassionate, gentle, curious, fueled from a place of grounded confidence, and wants what is truly best for us.
When, through therapeutic guidance, clients come into contact with their Wise Self, “they straighten their spines, take deeper breaths, express a sense of calm and confidence.” Green has witnessed clients moved to tears when they uncover this innately loving part of themselves.
“People don’t just neglect to get in touch with their Inner Compass because they want to,” Aurena shares. “It gets ignored because we are in situations where it is safer not to listen to this Inner Compass than it is to know and live our truths.”
A powerful way to bring the Wise, Inner Compass into therapeutic work is leading clients to consult this part of themselves. When faced with a difficult or destructive thought pattern, Green will ask clients “What does the wise and all-knowing part of yourself have to say about that?”
Healing with Our Inner Compass
Meeting ourselves with compassion and understanding helps anxiety, fear, self-doubt, and other manifestations of trauma subside. It is from this place that much more expansive healing work can be done.
While thorough integrative parts-work is done in conjunction with a therapist, Aurena offers these tools to help connect with your own Inner Compass:
- Implement daily practices that calm you down or help you practice self-compassion. 5-10 minute meditations, journaling, or affirmative statements are some small, steady steps.
- When a judgemental voice comes in, ask “What does my Wise Self have to say in response to that?”
- When you experience self-judgment, can you get curious about it instead of lost in it?
- When we get curious, we find self-compassion.
What our clinicians witness over and over is people uncovering strength and kindness within themselves. The ways we adapt to survive in the world are not always connected to our truest, most compassionate values.
But there are ways to reconnect to and live guided by our Wise, loving, Inner Compass.