Get to know your Protector Parts

Internal Family Systems

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a therapeutic approach that helps you understand and work with different parts of yourself that were often formed as a result of past experiences, such as trauma. Parts can be either protective or wounded. IFS integrates exceptionally well with Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), because ART fosters a collaborative relationship with your Parts, working together to address your trauma. After all, your Parts were created to protect you, but may underestimate your ability to care for yourself. ART will help establish a healing partnership, instead of a dictatorship.

When Protector Parts are in balance, they may be one of your best qualities. However, when the same Protector Parts are operating in extremes, they sabotage your ability to control your emotions, control your behavior, maintain relationships, be productive, and experience fulfillment. Our objective in therapy is to build trust with your Parts by showing them you can handle your pain, and collaborate with them moving forward.

Jerry Wheeler, LMHC, NCC

Your Protector Parts exist on a spectrum, from balanced to extreme. If you’re curious, take a look at the tabs below to see where your Protector Parts may be on the spectrum in each of the dimensions discussed below.

    • Change Dimension. How do you deal with the process of personal change? Do you work well on personal growth, and can you be at ease with the process? Do you push yourself impatiently to change? Do you avoid growth work or sabotage your efforts to change? 

    • Hope Dimension. Are you hopeful about the future yet realistic about what can happen? Do you tend to pessimistically expect the worst? Or are you lost in pipe dreams, being naively optimistic about the future without considering the difficulties?

    • Reason/Emotion Dimension. How much are you oriented toward reason versus emotion? Are you emotionally open, or do you get lost in your head? Are you able to think clearly, or do you get carried away by your emotions? 

    • Coherence Dimension. Can you be creative and still clear? Or do you slide into fogginess, confusion, forgetfulness, and distraction? Do you get so rigidly focused that it blocks your creativity?

    • Vision Dimension. Do you have the vision to see the bigger picture of your life or other questions? Can you also deal with matters in a practical way, or are your visions impractical? Are you overly practical or mechanical so that you are lacking in vision? 

    • Resilience/Sensitivity Dimension. Do you bounce back from pain or difficulty, or are you fragile and easily overwhelmed by feelings and external stimuli? Are you sensitive emotionally, intuitively, and spiritually, or are you closed? 

  • Self-Esteem Dimension. Do you feel good about yourself, or do you frequently judge yourself? Do you accept yourself as you are? Do you try to prop up your self-esteem with pride? How do you deal with improving yourself?

  • Accomplishment Dimension. Are you confident in working on and accomplishing tasks? Do you procrastinate? Do you push or judge yourself to try to get things done or to achieve, or can you accomplish with ease?

  • Quality Dimension. How do you deal with producing quality work? Are you sloppy? Are you overly concerned with producing perfect work? Can you work with ease and still do an excellent job?

  • Risk Dimension. How do you deal with taking risks in your life? Do you have the courage to take risks in order to move forward in your life? Do you take foolhardy risks, or are you prudent? Or do you avoid all risks and therefore become paralyzed in your life? Are you afraid of situations that aren’t really risky? Do you try to arrange your life to eliminate all risk?

  • Individuality Dimension. How do you deal with being yourself versus fitting in to your family or culture? Do you cling to tradition as a conformist, or can you be yourself even when that means going outside the mores of your family or culture? Can you integrate with the positive traditions of your culture, or are you rebellious no matter what the cost? 

  • Pleasure Dimension. How do you deal with food, drink, sex, and other bodily pleasures? Do you indulge in harmful ways? Do you control yourself rigidly to avoid such indulgence? Do you bounce back and forth between overindulging and castigating yourself for it?

  • Conscience Dimension. How do you deal with the possibility that you have hurt others or violated your values? Do you feel so guilty that you can’t forgive yourself, or do you just feel a reasonable degree of remorse and desire to make amends? Or are you so callous that you don’t care how you impact others? Can you forgive yourself? Can you accept yourself when faced with guilt-tripping from others?

  • Energy Dimension. How do you deal with your energy and aliveness? Can you be both peaceful and energetic? Do you get agitated and manic? Or are you low-energy and depressed?

  • Decision Dimension. How do you deal with decision making? Are you impulsive, or can you be thoughtful about decisions when necessary? Are you decisive, or do you constantly doubt your decisions?

  • Intimacy Dimension. Do you avoid intimacy, need it too much, fear it, love it? Can you be autonomous in an intimate relationship without denying your needs? Do you get dependent in relationships, or can you support yourself?
  • Conflict Dimension. How do you deal with differences of opinion as well as desires, disagreements, judgment, anger, and fights? Do you use avoidance tactics? Do you become angry, blaming, or defensive? Can you communicate your concerns without judgment and own your part in a problem? Do you become frightened or feel bad about yourself? Can you bring up conflicts and set limits on attacks?
  • Power Dimension. How do you deal with power in your relationships? Do you give in too easily to others or try too hard to please them? Do you need to be in control? Do you feel as though you must stand up for yourself against people you view as dominating? Do you frustrate others without realizing why? Can you assert yourself? Can you work with people in a spirit of cooperation?
  • Care Dimension. How do you balance your needs versus other people’s needs? Do you end up taking care of others rather than yourself? Do people tell you that you don’t show enough care or concern for them?
  • Social Dimension. How do you relate to people socially? Are you outgoing or shy, scared or confident in reaching out to people or making conversation? Are you self-effacing or charming, attention seeking or avoiding? Are you overly oriented toward performance in the way you relate to others, or are you more genuine?
  • Strength Dimension. How do you deal with self-protection and assertiveness in situations that can bring up anger? Do you dump your anger on people? Do you disown your anger and therefore lose your strength? Can you be centered and communicate clearly when you are angry? Can you be strong and forceful without being reactive?
  • Trust Dimension. Are you usually trusting of people, or do you easily get suspicious? Can you perceive when someone isn’t trustworthy, or are you gullible? 
  • Honesty Dimension. Are you honest with people, or do you try to deceive them to get your way? Can you be tactful along with being honest, or do you become judgmental and insensitive to your effect on others? 
  • Evaluation Dimension. Can you see people clearly, or do you tend to idealize certain people? Can you appreciate people for who they are, or do you tend to be judgmental of them? 
  • Responsibility Dimension. How do you deal with being in charge of, and responsible for, what happens in your life? Do you take a powerless victim stance? Do you think you can control everything that happens?

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