Chris Burris, LPC, LMFT is a Senior Lead Trainer for the IFS Institute. He has been an IFS Therapist since 1999 and is trained as a Marriage and Family Therapist. He uses mind/body approaches of therapy in alleviating traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety disorders. He works extensively with individuals and groups.

Since 1990 he has been very active with Men’s, Couples, Self Leadership Groups and Rites of Passage Programs. As the former Director of Counseling at The North Carolina School of the Arts, Chris has considerable experience with performance enhancement with Athletes, Artists, Actors, Filmmakers, Musicians, Writers, and Dancers. He is currently in Private Practice in Asheville, NC.

In addition to being a psychotherapist, Chris has trained in many nature based models with Animus Valley institute, School of Lost Borders, The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, and The Center for Conscious Eldering.

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Today on IFS Talks we're welcoming back Chris Burris. Chris Burris is a senior lead trainer for the IFS Institute. He’s been an IFS therapist since 1999 and is trained as a marriage and family therapist. Chris uses mind body approaches of therapy in alleviating traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety disorders. He works extensively with individuals and groups. Since 1990, Chris has been very active with men's, couples, self-leadership groups and rites of passage program. As the former director of counseling at the North Carolina school of arts Chris has considerable experience with performance enhancement. He is currently in private practice in Asheville, North Carolina. In addition to being a psychotherapist and lead trainer Chris has trained in many nature-based models with the Animas Valley Institute, School of loss borders, the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and The Center for Conscious Eldering.

Tisha Shull:  Chris, welcome back and thank you so much for joining us again on IFS Talks.

Chris Burris: Great. Thank you very much, Tisha. Glad to be back with you.

Aníbal Henriques: Welcome back Chris. How have you been those days, any developments or transitions in your personal or professional life you'd like to share?

Chris: It's been a busy spring. We've had quite a number of Level 1 trainings. We just finished two pilots with a fairly large group of participants, and we're finished the second black therapist rock training, primarily focused with people of color. So, so yeah, it's been a very busy but exciting spring, lots of new therapists and IFS trained therapists that are now in the field

Aníbal: Chris, as clinicians and counselors, we used to sit and spend most of our time with clients that experienced severe relational trauma. These client systems are usually loaded with really bad relational memories and experiences. And consequently, are very often run by challenging, strong protectors. As IFS practitioners, we have learned that we need to spend time naming, respecting and validating these protectors before they gave you permission to attend to vulnerable traumatized parts. Now, we know that many clinicians end up spending months, if not years with some of these challenging protectors, feeling hijacked by them with no permission to go to exiles and feeling like going nowhere. We also know that bypassing those strong protectors will get us in trouble. So, who are these strong, challenging protectors and how should we address them?

Chris: Yeah, I've been very interested in these protective parts and as you indicated, they work very hard to protect us from vulnerability, from feelings of shame, worthlessness, and not only do they operate in our internal system, they operate in our interpersonal relationships as well as you've indicated. And I think human beings want to feel connected. They want to feel like they belong. Some of these protective ways, you know, do interfere with that process. Not only the feeling of belonging internally, but also the feeling of connected belonging in our relationships.

So, began to kind of highlight maybe four types of protectors that I've gotten interested in. One is Self-like protectors that do have some of the qualities of Self-leadership but carry an agenda. The second is kind of harsh managers. And last time I met with you, we talked a lot about critics and critics kind of fall in this category with harsh protectors, but you know, there's many ways that we have managers that are harsh, they manage other people, or we can even parent from a harsh protector harsh manager. Then, my third is kind of my favorite kind of called these, these runaway firefighters. So, they operate involuntarily and kind of run their own agenda. And a lot of times the managers are trying to kind of get these parts back in under wraps. And so, that's kind of why I call them runaway firefighters. And then we have sort of these involuntary protectors that even a hint of danger takeover, and these are parts that are like numbing parts, disassociation, even sleepy part. So, they operate kind of under the radar, they become, they become very active and reactive to the hint of danger. So those are kind of the four categories that I've kind of gotten interested in lately.

Aníbal: Beautiful. So, how should we address them? How should we address Self-like part protectors, for instance?

Chris: Self-like parts are kind of hard to, hard for us as individuals to recognize. Often, they're very close to our identity and they do carry an agenda. Often the best way to recognize Self-like parts is a feedback that we get from others. So, it's hard to recognize these sometimes, but we can see the way people interact with us. People reflect back that, you know, something in an interaction doesn't feel quite so good. And, you know, and if we can, we can listen to that feedback and get curious about what was the motivation, what was the energy behind that? What was the impact? So, one way of getting to know these Self-like parts. So, as a therapist, we're listening to parts that have an agenda for other parts, and there's a difference between kind of a motivation towards healing and wholeness and agenda, which tends to be more fear-based.

Aníbal: So, you wouldn't say that, for instance, a thinking part or a figuring out part is not a Self-like part?

Chris:  Yeah. I think those are, you know, many times these parts are really helpful and it's not that it's bad. Oftentimes we do, when people discover that this is a Self-like part, somehow that triggers shame, these parts are very helpful. The thinking parts have done a really good job of helping us get perspective. So, the way that we want to interact with them as a clinician is to really welcome them and value them and have them be in more of an aid or a consultant than the primary operator in the healing process.

Tisha: What makes a protector more or less challenging for you as a therapist?

Chris: Well, the longer parts have been in these roles, the more inflexible they become and the more determined they are that if they shift or change something really bad is going to happen and it, and all these parts make sense at the time in which they were formed. So, that the inflexibility and the really stacked up fear makes it challenging to really reassure these parts that if we work with the vulnerability or the burdens that actually the whole system's not going to fall apart. Is going to function much more fluidly and in cooperation. So, I think the immobility of the parts make it challenging for clinicians.

Tisha: So, you see that with people living out like relational cycles over and over, the harsh protectors come in, those critics come in, the managers come in and they get really locked in and it's hard to change that cycle.

Chris: Yeah, I think it, you know, if we get hurt in some way or not seen or not valued, it really feels like we have to defend ourselves and that we, so those, so reality seems like this is the thing to do, and that the impact of that actually we get defensiveness back, so those parts feel like they really are in jeopardy and sometimes we may become in jeopardy, but usually we're less in jeopardy than we imagine we are, but those parts are really determined to save our life and protect us.

Aníbal: Chris, could you give us more examples of harsh managers like critics? Do you see perfectionist parts or obsessive parts as included in those harsh managers?

Chris: Yeah, I think the harsh managers can be perfectionistic parts. They can be parts that have a rigid schedule, that have a determination that if they don't drive us with fear that somehow we're going to be lazy or incompetent, unsuccessful, but, you know, so I think what makes it harsh managers, there's not a lot of trust in Self, and there's not a lot of trust in our own natural motivation that we have a natural motivation for connection, for inspiration, for expression. And so, these harsh managers use fear to motivate us because they haven't learned to trust our own natural inspiration

Aníbal: And how should we address them?

Chris: Well, the way, you know, obviously addressing whom from our Self-energy. So, the first tip is to really appreciate that their intention is to protect. And I usually say our protectors make sense in the context in which they were formed. So, they, if we, and we may not fully understand the context as working with them, but they make sense in that context. So, being able to see that at some point in this person's life, that protector made sense. And often people don't experience having mentors that are encouraging or inspiring. They maybe were parented in a harsh way and went to school with teachers that corrected children in a harsh way. So, they don't have a lot of reference for inspiration and motivation.

Tisha: Do you have from your own work and your base of knowledge around working with extreme protectors, do you have any examples you could share with us of transition points of you working with a client where it gets revealed that that protector has been doing what it's been doing for a long time?

Chris: Well, I mean, in my own system, I need some of my own managers of, you know, like one of my managers operated like some instrumental people in my life. So, and being able to help that part see that inspiration, that that actually respond better to inspiration. Those tend to be really pivotal points. So, not only them stepping back, but also seeing the circular nature that there's actually something inside of me that responds to this different way of interacting, much more efficiently and effectively than this harshness. So, parts don’t often see the impact, you know, so I think some of reoccurring bringing back to that part, you know, how much better I respond to encouragement than I do to fear within my own system is I think that those are monumental changes that the parts don't see that, they don't know that there's another way. So, I think the change happens when they began to see that, that the system might super respond better to encouragement or validation or cooperation than fear, judgment, or shame.

Aníbal: Chris, could we deepen a little bit on firefighters and runaway firefighters? Can you give us some examples? And again, hoe should we address them?

Chris: I think some of the runaway firefighters, food tends to be one of those items that the firefighters tend to focus on, maybe alcohol or drugs, relationships, so that, so they tend to operate on involuntarily, you know, for some reason, Aníbal, 10 o'clock at night, you know, ice cream becomes the thing that I'm fixated on, you know, and there's a bit of a runaway firefighter there that, you know, that, you know, that's kind of ice cream time. And sometimes it's hard for me to feel like I have charge over that part. So, that's kind of that runaway part that has its own agenda and it, they have somehow ways of getting executive control, you know, so they may have a craving, they may have a preoccupation and they may have access to some memory of some feeling of satisfaction or excitement, you know, so that, so they have very complex tools to motivate the system to being able to get in that driver's seat. And so, that's a little bit why I refer to them as kind of runaway cause they tend to, you know, they tend to be like the teenager that's, you know, stolen the family car, you know, so it's very interesting to me to see how we tend to have these and often how little control the rest of the system feels like they have over there.

Tisha: Well, I feel like what I think about as you're describing these protectors is how like myself as a therapist sits with them in the room. And I, you know, I think about all the therapist parts that come up with challenging protectors and there's a number of them, but yeah. What sort of advice or input do you have for therapists working with clients with these protectors that are locked in?

Chris: I think it's a really great question because these are the parts that tend to activate our own managers. And sometimes these parts do have very devastating impacts on the system, you know, and they activate our own fears of what might happen to this person if we don't somehow contain this part. So, the first thing we have to do is track our own system. As we know, managers, firefighters tend to polarize with managers. So, if we get into a managerial state with these parts, we actually create more extreme reactions from them. So, we have to be able to track our own reactivity to that. The first thing we have to do is acknowledge that they're somehow protecting the system. So, it's not about the impact of the part, but it's the intent of the part. So, we have to validate the intent of the part is to bring something, you know, beneficial, that often suicidal parts, the intent behind those parts are to be able to escape the pain that the person's living. The pain of living is so much that they don't have another way. They don't believe there's another way to escape that pain. So, validating that that part is trying to help the system, the intent is to help in some way, and that they don't have other tools to alleviate the pain of living. So, us being able to hold that perspective with the part begins the process of other parts of the system to see that part in a different way, that it's a part with a really difficult job. Doesn’t mean to cause us trouble, but that has limited tools of how it could benefit and help the system.

Tisha: Do you feel that IFS therapists get to a point where you can be with the suicidal part without also having a part in the background that's worried and concerned and...I feel like for myself, like there's always just that, you know, that part that's been trained, you know, outside of the IFS model where it's like, oh, suicide, it's pretty scary. And what, yeah. What sort of like, it's a manager, it's a worried manager, but it seems like it's a long slide as much self-energy is as can be there.

Chris: Yeah. Well, I think that part is always going to be there. I think it's human nature for those parts to be there with other people. The question we have is how much of that part is influencing the dynamic with our clients, you know, so we can own that, yeah, I have a part that's afraid for you, that's scared for you. And I have a part that wants to try to manage you, you know, and, you know, and I can have that part give us space so that we can get to know this part of you and see if we can help it. So, we can acknowledge that we have those parts is and often acknowledging that we have those parts really puts it on the table, so that can be, you know, something we can talk about with the client. So, it's not about getting rid of our parts, it's being able to see how much, you know, how much executive control do they have. And, you know, and there are times that we may have to, you know, have someone involuntarily committed or that we may have to do something that, you know, gets them to a safe place. A lot of times we can do a lot of negotiating with parts to get an agreement, to see if we can reduce the pain of living. So that, so that those other measures of safety, you know, don't have to be in place, but in place,

Tisha: How does that negotiation go?

Chris: Well, we want to negotiate specifically with a part, with a firefighter, with a suicidal part. So that negotiation looks, usually goes something like, so if we could help the pain of living, so it wasn't so overwhelming or that there was other resources to reduce that, then would you be willing to give us time and space to try to do that? Would you be willing not to take the person out to see if we can reduce the pain of living? And I really get that you don't feel like there's any hope for that, but, you know, if you would give us time and space to work with that, I think that we can reduce that pain of living in ways that maybe makes it so that you don't feel like you need to take the person down. Now, often these parts, it's not that they want to die. It's that, that this pain of living is just so overwhelming that they don't believe there's another way.

Tisha: Yeah. So beautiful. Chris, thank you.

Aníbal: Chris, we now all sessions begin with direct assess, the implicit way. How do you see the role of Direct Access when it comes to deal with strong, challenging protectors?

Chris: That skill, direct access is a really valuable skill for protectors. Protectors need to feel seen, heard, and valued, you know, so being able to reflect back in a direct way to them, that we understand them or that we can listen to them, you know, or that we see that their intent is to do something protective, for them to feel like, to feel seen by us and understood by the practitioner and have some empathy and compassion for them. And that's the first step in them being willing to open the door a little bit and consider that there may be help for them. So direct access, so that's what we're reflecting to them in direct access. And because parts seem to be so polarized, especially with some of these extreme parts that we may have to hold that space, so the polarization relaxes a bit for more Self-energy to emerge. So sometimes it's what, you know, Dr. Schwartz says, is lending Self-energy, you know, that we're lending that to soften that polarization actually create space for there to be more Self-energy.

Aníbal: And what about the group that you call the involuntary protectors, dissociation, numbness, sleepiness, destructiveness, any recommendations, how should we address them?

Chris: Yeah, sort of what I found with those parts and it's something Dr. Schwartz said, I heard him say one time is, sometimes we have to do a little preemptive work with some managers. And that kind of got me curious, because I would notice some clients that would come in, maybe they have a sleepy part and they would come into session and soon as we moved, even hinted towards moving towards something vulnerable, the sleepy part would take over and their body would shut down and it seemed to take like a 20 minutes to kind of wake them up, you know, to do work. And so, what I began to do is try to work with those parts before they caused that shutdown because it seemed to be easier to preempt that than actually try to raise the energy level back up. So, preempting those parts and getting them into a collaborative relationship with us so they don't take over. And these parts are kind of like an overactive fire alarm, you know, so we may have a fire alarm in my house that tends to go off just when we, you know, make toast, you know, it can be the tiniest hint of a smoke, then this fire alarm goes off. And that's kind of what we see with these parts is they learn just the hint of vulnerability or the hint of a feeling or the hint of going anywhere towards that traumatic material will cause them to come in and take over. So, working with those, preempting those parts kind of before we move towards that vulnerable material, asking them not to do that. And, oftentimes if we say to the client, do you feel like you can handle this feeling? Do you feel like you can handle this material that you're getting ready to work with? And if the client says, yes, I feel like I can handle it, then we connect that confidence with that preemptive protector so that it knows that the Self, the person's Self-energy feels confident of working with that and it doesn't have to take over. So, and then at different times we have to check back with it. So, we're trying to kind of help the person stay in, you know, an alert state, not in a disassociative state or shut down state while we're working with this material. So, every so often I'll go back and check with that sleepy part or that numbing part, how's it doing so far? You know, it's a little bit, you know, like my dentist would ask me, you know, I had my dentist yesterday, you know, how's it going so far? Are you okay so far, you know, it's sort of checking in with me, you know, so we weren't checking in with that part in that way.

Tisha: If the dissociative part just comes in or the sleepy part comes in, regardless of the preemptive work that you do with it, what's your strategy with that?

Chris: Some parts start like between the car and the office. So, you know, I have had the experience of sort of meeting a client, you know, at their car, you know, and beginning to sort of talk about beginning therapy with that part as we're walking to the office. So, we may have to preempt that really early cause they're so reactive, they kind of know what's coming and they may operate even before that. So, we have to sort of determine when we have to preempt it. It's hard to work with one of these parts when the body's shut down. So, you know, while you're sleepy, it's hard to work with sleepiness, you know, cause there's not an alertness there to work with it. So that's why we have to kind of preempt it before it really takes over the system.

Tisha: Chris, have you ever had the experience of a client system putting you to sleep or activating a really sleepy part in you?

Chris: That’s fascinating, isn’t it? I would, you know, I would sort of start a session, you know, I worked with a client remotely and I think he was a good 2000 miles away and I, you know, I'd be alert, and we'd sit down and start a little bit, I'd just start getting the sleepiness. And I would, it gets really interesting. I think we're such relational people that there's kind of an attunement, you know, that kind of happens with that. I think it's good to kind of know your system and know your own alertness. You know, if I get sleepy at one o'clock every day, I don't want to schedule that client, you know, at that time, you know, so I want to schedule that client at a time that I'm alert and you know, I don't usually get sleepy between eight and one o'clock maybe or three o'clock, you know, so to know that I'm being influenced by that, you know, and it's not just me, you know, so sometimes naming it in our system, naming that this sleepiness isn't mine, that I'm attuning to this other person and I don't have to do that. So if I can name it as not mine, that helps me, you know, I have asked people parts, if they could sort of pull back their influence a little bit, that they're influencing the person so much, that I'm actually feeling that influence. So, could they kind of pull that back a bit and not be so strong with it, you know, and then as we get more and more able to come preempt those parts, we don't come in a resonance with it that way, but it is fascinating.

Tisha: So, it feels like it's the empathic connection between you and the client, rather than it activating a protector in you that's protecting your own vulnerability.

Chris: I think it’s more of, you know, to me, it's, it could be a protector of me, but I think a little bit more, it's kind of...we tend to kind of be in a resonant field, you know, or an energetic field, or however you want to think about it or just in a proximity, you know, that we tend to attune to each other a little bit, you know? So, I think that we kind of get in that resonant place and we're influenced by it.

Aníbal: So, we have a dilemma, how can we work with those extreme protectors that are so contagious, right? And you say it's hard to work with dissociation because it causes dissociation with sleepiness because it causes sleepiness. So, can we prevent this from happening and reduce this contagiousness?

Chris: Yeah. I think that's where this preempting the part before it causes the body to shut down or causes that. Because it has a really way of affecting the nervous system, you know, and it's harder to sort of rise the nervous system than to lower the nervous system. So, we want to get it before it causes, you know, that shut down in the system, that's a preempting it. And in our own system, how well we're kind of able to hold our own space, hold our own bubble if we're kind of overly empathic, meaning that we're feeling the other client's feelings, then we're susceptible to the influence of that even more. So, as you said before, Tisha a little bit, sometimes we do have parts that operate in that, that have learned that I need to feel the other person's feelings in order to be compassionate and helping those parts not do that. We only kind of get need about three or 4% in order to be empathetic. You know, we don't need to feel a hundred percent of the person's feelings, just three or 4% tells us, okay, this is shame, or this is fear, or this is worthlessness, so we don't have to. So, we confuse, sometimes we confuse compassion with commiserating, that actually feeling the other person's feelings is more commiserating, compassion as a loving or open-hearted kindness.

Aníbal: Chris, where should we put a perpetrator part regarding these four types you speak for the challenging strong protectors?

Chris: It’s a really great question. I could probably add that to the list, you know, at times I think about perpetrator parts as parts that have been hurt and that are hurting other people as a way of trying to discharge that or parts that have over-identified with, you know, maybe their own perpetrators, you know, and believe that somehow this is enabling strength. So, you know, kind of hurt people, hurt people. Parts that make sense in the context, you know, in which they were formed. So, often being able to kind of get to those parts and see and help them see the impact they’re having begins to have the motivation towards changing that.

Aníbal: Chris, and what about unburdening protectors? Is it possible to unburden protectors before unburdening exiles?

Chris: Yeah. I Think often you find even sometimes perpetrator parts, they can be young parts that are acting out their own injuries on to other people. So those parts carry burdens. So, these protectors are often aren't that much older than the parts they're protecting. So, in that sense, they're young themselves. The role that they're carrying is a burden, often the beliefs and experiences they’re carrying are burdens. So, we can unburden these protectors alleviating the role that they're in, is sort of another form of unburdening that occurs for them. But they also may carry beliefs and emotions and feelings in their bodies that, you know, much like the exiles parts.

Aníbal: So, there is no big difference in the way you do this work with protectors or exiles.

Chris: I think the major differences that we have to be able to hold a perspective  that the intent of these parts are not the same as the impact, you know, and we have to be able to see them, that the intent may be to overcome worthlessness or helplessness or inadequacies. And so...but the impact is they actually cause the thing that they're trying to avoid. So, I think it's the perspective that we hold with these parts that are a little bit different. One of my teachers, David Calof would say, it's, you know, it's easy to kind of snuggle up to these young, vulnerable parts. You know, it's much more challenging to find compassion for parts that harm other people and to find curiosity with those parts to find out, you know, how do they come about being in this way? It doesn't mean that we naively are subjected to those parts so that we validate the impact. We're, you know, we're very much holding the space at the impact really, you know, isn't tolerable, but we get curious about the intent. What is this? How is this trying to protect you? How's it trying to help you? Or did you get this way of interacting internally or externally?

Tisha: Has there been a time when someone's protector has really surprised you or even your own?

Chris: Yes, there has, absolutely. The extent to which sometimes protectors will go has been quite surprising. I've worked with musicians that had, you know, maybe a crack addiction and would be, you know, in a crack house for four or five days, you know, so the extent to some of these protectors will go to and how far out of character it is with the rest of the system, that's all about why I refer to them as runaway protectors as somehow they have hijacked the system and they're not within the way the person really experiences himself and the way that they feel in integrity with the rest of their system

Tisha: With that, what do you recommend for therapists working with those kinds of protectors? I know you've been over it a few times, but, you know, accessing the compassion for a part that takes someone to a crack house.

Chris: Yeah. I think getting really curious about this system. This client, what we found was for the most of part time, this part didn't, wasn't really a runaway protector. It tended to, it was a bartender and, you know, and every now and then he would get a bit lonely. And when he got lonely, he would kind of drink with some of the, you know, patreons after his shift was over. And as that, as alcohol hit his system, you know, the other parts that kind of kept that intact, you know, the game offline, and then this craving would take over, you know, and the craving for the endorphins that are released by this type of drug is, you know, it can be very overwhelming, you know, to the system. So, being able to kind of work in sequence, you know, what are the sequences in place that causes us this runaway behavior. And so, you know, if you felt pretty bad and lonely, the craving for an endorphin, it can be really, really high, you know? And so, the part's not meaning to cause us trouble, it's looking for that endorphin that's kind of missing into the system.

Tisha: So, you don't feel the loneliness, don’t feel the pain.

Chris: So, you don't feel the loneliness, the pain.

Tisha: Yeah. Great, great advice.

Chris: So, what we see a lot, I think we could probably, you know, look at most of the DSM four as a book of, you know, kind of loneliness and disconnection.

Aníbal: Yeah, absolutely.

Chris: I guess, five now, right.

Aníbal: Chris, you have recently presented a workshop on using IFS with groups.

Chris: Yeah.

Aníbal: And also, you have been working on a book on this topic to be published soon. Can you say more about those groups? Is it a to be discovered and deepening horizon for IFS?

Chris: Yeah. I think that for some reason, I'm not quite sure, but group therapy seems to become much less of a modality, you know, over the past 10 or 15 or 20 years. And, there's less training in that. It's became interested in me we decided to train people on IFS in a group setting. So we go through all the stages of group development of, you know, the forming norming and storming performing, we go through all of those stages, you know, and we train people to learn about their internal system and to work with their internal system in a group setting. And Dr. Schwartz founded that that was actually the preferred way to learn the model. So, it got me really curious around, well, maybe groups is actually the preferred way to actually do the therapy and in my own process of offering groups and doing groups really, really beautiful, meaningful, deep work can happen in group settings. So, I’ve been in groups since I was 24. I think my first men's group was, I was about 24 years old. And so, I've been in some type of group for, you know, most of my life, you know, and so I think it's a really great place to do the work. There are a lot of things you can do in groups, such as sculpting and psychodrama, role plays, you know, having someone, you know, direct access, having people witness your work, seeing other people's work. So, all of these modalities that we use to train are available to people as part of their therapy. And if in... lot of times it's going inside, it's insight process can feel kind of vague and obtuse, you know, cause we're trying to work, you know, with our own system and it’s highly covered up. So, being able to see someone else's parts acting or in a psychodrama helps us get to know our own parts in a more direct way. So, I'm very, very excited about the implications and applications to IFS and groups. We're also finding that the IFS therapists seem to be in high demand and a lot of the certified or level one, or level two psychotherapists are full. People can't get access to IFS therapists. So, the more that we get, especially people of color and people from marginalized populations find someone that comes from your same culture, you know, maybe really challenging. So, if we can have more groups available, then we can also serve a wider, you know, better populations with that

Tisha: I remember getting to do a demo in one of my IFS trainings. And it felt like for my exile, it was really important for her to be seen by the group. It was wounded in a group. You know, it seemed like a really important part of the healing process that might not have happened in the individual setting.

Chris: Yeah. I think, you know, I think it's Alfed Adler that said that all problems are relational problems, you know, so yeah, so we're hurt or injured in relationships. So, to heal in relationship, I think really goes to a much deeper healing and more potential. We also do find that these demos, as you're referring to go much more deeper and have much greater potential just from having other people hold that space with us and witness us in that space.

Aníbal: So, Chris, do you see IFS with groups to be more powerful even for the work with challenging protectors?

Chris: It could be. It depends. You know, it's hard to kind of say, I mean, I think we'd have to have some type of empirical study of outcomes around that, you know, but being able to kind of role play what we did, my colleague and I, Kevin Davis, a close friend of mine, we ran couples groups and we primarily ran couples groups with these protectors. So, we looked at these interactions between protectors of couples and the couples being able to see the exact same pattern played out by someone else, you know, gave them a deeper recognition of when they themselves get into those patterns. And so, it's really interesting that these couples found like this infinity of patterning of interacting between there, you know, the defend defend, or the defend attack or attack defend that other, this theme seems to be a universal dynamic, that cause couples trouble. So being able to see those protectors played out by another couple or actually being in that roleplay with them, seem to go and help them get a much bigger, quicker grasp of that. We tend to...this pattern, we tend to learn it and forget it, learn it and forget it and learn it, forget it mainly because of how triggered we get and maybe our significant relationships. But yeah, I think that groups have a lot of potential to really be able to see that protector and see it in action and then know it when it gets into action in our own life.

Tisha: Are there some trainings that you have coming down the pipeline that we can participate in?

Chris: Yeah. I think we're working on that. Sue Richmond, one of our trainers is going to do an online circle, talking about groups. We're talking about trying to have some plenary about it at IFS conference. We just got through doing intro last week on IFS groups. So, you know, I think there's a lot of interest. We had a lot of folks sign up for that intro. So, I think there's a lot of interest. I think the Cambridge health Alliance is running some research on groups, Nancy Sowell did a research study on groups. So, I think it's, you know, it's going to get more accessible for folks.

Aníbal: Beautiful. Chris, can you share a bit about your coming book that we would like to address with you soon on another talk?

Chris: Well, it's been a long process. I have pretty severe dyslexia, so writing is quite arduous for me. So, it's been quite a long process, so I have two more chapters to finish and then sort of need to get it, you know, to an editor. So, you know, I have lots of runaway firefighters that will do anything but write. You know, so it's kind of like ABD, anything but dissertations, so anything but writing. So, I have to create space. I have to work a little bit with my firefighters to not, you know, take me off to all the other interesting things that I would much rather do than write.

Tisha: So, when you are able to write, it sounds like we have a great book to look forward to.

Chris: I hope so, so I'm hoping it's beneficial. I think it's got some formats to it. It's got some facilitator skills looking at applications for different culture populations. So, I think it...I'm hoping that it has at least a groundwork that people can have, and then can creatively spin off of that. And, you know, all kinds of different ways of doing groups. There’re many ways of doing it and you know, and we're doing a group work with lawyers, trial lawyers. And so, there's some really amazing creative ways of helping them be more effective. So, there's a lot of applications for it.

Aníbal: Chris, thanks again, for this amazing time together, we have been learning so much from you and I’m confident many will learn from this conversation today. It was a joy to be here with you and Tisha, and it's my hope, our hope that we can keep meeting and sharing this model, our work and our lives.

Chris: Thanks a lot. Thanks for all your work, getting these really valuable resources out to the public.