Sexuality through IFS Lens with Patricia Rich
Patricia Rich, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified IFS Therapist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and Supervisor. She fell in love with IFS in 2011 and has since completed Level 3, served as a Program Assistant and offered IFS workshops. She founded The Relating Well Center, LLC, a relationship and sexuality focused private practice in the Philadelphia area.
When Patty first became interested in IFS, she thought it would be useful in the treatment of sexual dysfunction. Then, as she learned the model she got curious about how sexuality “lives” in the internal system. Now she believes that IFS is not only extremely useful in the healing of sexual dysfunction and trauma, but also for navigating today’s complex landscape of sexuality in a Self-Led way . She brought her insights to the IFS Annual Conference first as a half day session and then as a full day Pre-Conference workshop. She just completed teaching a four month module on Self-Led Sexuality for the IFS Institute’s Online Continuity Program.
Learn more about her offerings at www.relatingwellcenter.com or by joining her private Facebook group Self-Led Sexuality with Patricia Rich.
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Today on IFS Talks we have the privilege of meeting with Patty Rich. Patricia Rich is a licensed clinical social worker, certified IFS therapist, and a sex certified sex therapist and supervisor. She fell in love with IFS in 2011 and has since completed Level 3, served as a Program Assistant and offered IFS workshops. Patty founded The Relating Well Center, LLC, a relationship and sexuality focused private practice in the Philadelphia area. When Patty first became interested in IFS, she thought it would be useful in the treatment of sexual dysfunction. Then, as she learned the model, she got curious about how sexuality lives in the internal system. Now, she believes that IFS is not only extremely useful in the healing of sexual dysfunction and trauma, but also for navigating today's complex landscape of sexuality in a Self-lead way. Patty brought her insights to the IFS Annual Conference first as a half-day session and then as a full day pre-conference workshop. Also, she just completed teaching a four-month module on Self-lead Sexuality for the IFS institute's Online Continuity Program.
Patty, welcome to IFS Talks, and thank you so much for being with us today.
Patricia Rich: Thank you, Tisha. It is such an honor to be here with you and Aníbal. I'm very excited and looking forward to our conversation today.
Aníbal Henriques: Thanks much, Patty, for willing to sit with us. What parts come up today, hearing your bio?
Patty: I think my parts are kind of retracing the journey that it's been to this point, and it's a feeling of appreciation for my parts that have helped me and also to all of my teachers and mentors in the IFS community and leadership that has been so welcoming of what I've been trying to bring forward. So, I guess I feel gratitude.
Tisha: Will you tell us a little bit about your journey, becoming a therapist and also your interest in sexuality?
Patty: Sure. I became a therapist as my primary career. Some people have made career changes. I've been on this path my whole life. And I would actually say before I knew about the profession, I was in something of that therapist role, had that therapist temperament as a child. I was one of those people that seem to listen to others and mediate and had a feel for helping people communicate. And actually, that theme of connection and communication has always been very enlightening for me and it's carried forth to this day. Professionally, actually, it's kind of relevant here, I suppose, that I tend to be interested in a lot of different things and it was hard to narrow when it was time to well to go to graduate school, basically. You know, when I was an undergrad, I could still take a lot of different courses. And when I was deciding about what kind of graduate degree I wanted, I had brochures in front of me from like all these different kinds of programs. They were somewhat related, you know, public health and psychology and social work and all of this. And I wasn't quite sure which way I wanted to go and I wound up one day just getting out a big piece of paper and listening to the conversation inside because it was such a loud debate and I didn't know about parts yet, but what I wound up doing was really identifying about eight different parts that I had and negotiating a meeting with them and coming up with social work as the best path forward for me. And I do remember that a lot because it was the first time I met my parts and so later when I encountered IFS, it was so resonant with my own experience of myself.
Tisha: And then how did you start specializing in sexuality?
Patty: Well, I had had an interest in sexuality...Again, my parts are like "Which part tells the story here?" You know, I had volunteered to do some sex education when I was in college. I'd always had an interest in feminism and women's health and had done some different things. So, and I could say also that I came from a background that was pretty progressive, I would say around sexuality, nothing very overt, but I would say I had the privilege of growing up in a family that was not particularly repressive around sex and sexuality. So, I had some interest in that area. And then, as I was starting to do clinical work, I started out with children and families and I became very interested in working with the parents. And so, I started working more with parents and couples and because I had that interest and comfort level with sexuality, I would kind of invite into the conversation, just provide an opening for that and many people were very happy to be able to talk about their sexual relationship. And I realized there was a real need for more therapists that were able to welcome sex and sexuality as part of the whole picture in working with people. So that was kind of how I, and then I decided to get more training and became certified in sex therapy.
Aníbal: Patty, I would like to appreciate your courage to address, in such a wise and eloquent way, this difficult and triggering topic, even for those like us, in the field of psychotherapies, this topic of human sexuality. We know well how difficult it is for therapists in general to inquire about their client's sex lives or even about their own sex life. So why is that?
Patty: I don't think it's our fault, you know. I want to say that it's a tough subject. I think that we as therapists live obviously within the larger culture as our clients do, and I appreciate your listeners are probably coming from very different diverse cultures and parts of the world, even, but at least where I am in the United States, we have very mixed messages in our culture around sex and sexuality. And we don't have a strong foundation of sex education and helping people to understand their bodies and their feelings and the translation into social relationships and our values. And as a culture, we also have many oppressive influences that try to shut down or exile or punish forms of sexual expression and identity that do not conform to what's considered to be the more permissible. And this is internalized for all of us, whether we're therapists or not. If we're seeing images of sexuality that highlight particular body types, you know, very thin people or very white or very, you know, men with, you know, abs of steel or whatever it is, you know. We're in the mix, you know, in a culture that gives us a lot of messages about being not good enough or not allowed, or maybe high expectations for us sexually. And then our training programs replicate that. You know, I've talked to a lot of therapists, it's really the minority that are required within their curriculum to have some kind of comprehensive course around human sexuality. And then even fewer who are taught how to incorporate that into the clinical process, within whatever approach people are using. So, as therapist, we have a lot of challenges, you know, we, we may or may not have a comfort level with our own identity and expression of our sexuality. We may not have adequate training. And we also are concerned about respecting people's boundaries. You know, there's of course we don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable and we don't want to overstep in any way, and I think that can lead to really exiling the subject entirely.
Another thing that really is important to me is that we don't only address sexuality within the context of pain and trauma. I feel like when we hear the word sex and sexual, most often, at least for me in my professional community, we're talking about sexual abuse, sexual perpetrators, we're talking about, you know, unwanted pregnancy, you know, there's just kind of a way that sexuality tends to be brought in as something on the negative end of the spectrum. And I don't think I've really had any training that I didn't seek out myself that highlighted how healing sexuality can be, how just, it's just an aspect of life at any life stage and how much connecting with others, which is such a big part of what we want to do as therapists is help people to be able to connect with others and attach and have healthy relationships, how much sexuality is an aspect of that. So, that's a lot to say, I could even add more, but as therapists, you know, we are challenged, but I think we also have opportunities to increase our comfort level. And I think IFS offers some amazing ways to get to know our own systems and to be able to help our clients.
Aníbal: I guess you just said, or you would agree that humans use sex for so many proposals, not only to reproduction, but also to connection, to pleasure, to feel powerful, to dominate, to humiliate, to abuse someone. Why is sex used in so many different ways?
Patty: Well, you know, I would say because we are complex people, right? And that sex and sexuality tap into our life force energy. There's a lot of power to sexual energy and to the feelings, you know, that can go along with it. And even as you say it can be very triggering because there can be so much shame, you know, there can be so much, so many values and judgments around sex and sexuality, that it can really activate so many different things. And I don't want to overlook that many people have experienced trauma sexually. So, in mentioning earlier that it's something in programs that's highlighted, I'm not saying that it shouldn't be, of course it should be. Just wanting to kind of widen the conversation. So, the subject, even as people are listening to this, might be triggering. So, it might even be good if we could just go there for a minute. You know, I always like to invite people to pause - nice thing with the podcast is that you can do that - and just really notice, even with, as far as we've gotten so far, you know, what's here, you know, just hearing the topic, hearing the words, I really would want to invite people to check inside and just notice how this is landing, if there's any responses in a physical level of comfort or discomfort interest. And just to notice, because it can be so activating in so many different ways. So, I just want to make a mention of that.
And in terms of Internal Family Systems, we know that our parts have jobs, right? We have protector parts that have jobs and our parts will use what's available to them to do their jobs. And we've had some wonderful learning in the community about parts in terms of physical illness and how parts might manifest, you know, as aspects or use maybe predisposition, someone might have toward illness or toward anything, you know, they'll use what's at their disposal to do their jobs, right? And so, to me it makes a lot of sense that with such a strong resource in a system of sexuality, that parts might use it, you know, to do their jobs in different ways. So, when I started to get curious about, you know, how does sexuality fit with IFS, you know. Is it parts? You know, who, who has sex? You know, is it parts? Is it Self? Like, I just started to get very curious about that. And that's what started to, you know, open up a lot of thoughts about how manager parts, firefighter parts, exiles, all might have their own roles and energies in relation to sexuality, but how, when those parts unblend, that Self, it seems to me is really the source of our life force energy and that there is kind of sexual qualities and aspects of Self-energy If we allow those to manifest.
Tisha: Can you name a little bit more about what those qualities are? Those sexual aspects of self?
Patty: Yeah. Yeah. So of course, the 8 C words, people may be familiar with already. And I would say that all of those are relevant, you know, in terms of being Self-led in the arena of sexuality. So, being able to feel calm, connected, having clarity, communicating. So, all those C words are certainly relevant, but then what came to me were what I'm calling a six S's.
Aníbal: And do you want to name them for us?
Patty: Yeah. So, the six S's are safe. Sexual Self-energy is Safe, Sensual, Spacious, Sensitive, Steamy, and Satisfying.
Tisha: I'm so curious about steamy.
Patty: I'll say a bit about each of these.
Tisha: Yeah. That would be great.
Patty: Self is Safe. You know, a lot of parts may show up and engage. We may have different challenges in the world related to sexuality, but when we are safe and our parts trust that we're safe and step back, our Self-energy and our sexual energy is not going to harm us, right? And it's safe for us. Sensual, when we are, when, again, when our parts have unblended, we are able to enjoy the feeling of flow, we may become more attuned to sensuality, more able to really savor, you know, sensations. Spacious, that we are able to feel expansive, we can feel like our full Self around sex and within sexual activity and around our sexual expression. And this one I find really resonates, you know, for a lot of people that they've developed a sexual life or feelings about sexuality that keep them in a very narrow and constricted place. And so, this idea that there's the possibility of spaciousness, and that doesn't mean you do everything. You know what I mean? Like you can have values, you make choices, you can embrace boundaries around sexuality and still be able to experience sexual Self-energy as spacious.
Tisha: Right, there's less agenda there. Room for freedom, it sounds like.
Patty: Yeah. And kind of like our protectors can relax, our exiles feel safe, the system is calm. And so, then we can just be present to whatever is arising. And then Sensitive is that...You know, originally, I didn't imagine these six S words as sequential, but to be, it seems that they do work well sequentially, or they kind of reflect what happens a lot of times as protectors relax. So, with more Spaciousness, I notice a lot of, you know, people will report feeling more Sensitivity, like more tuned into their partner, to their own body, a more empathic, more emotional attunement and physical attunement. And then that leads into Steamy. With more sensation, you know, Self-energy is energy, you know, so energy as we're feeling warmer and more open and, you know, it's an, it's an embodied energy, so, it can become, it can heat up, right? And so that can lead into the arousal process in a sense of, you know, Steaminess, in terms of just maybe getting more and more into things just, and it's not necessarily only sexual arousal, you know, but that just when we're feeling very excited about what we're doing, you know, we're very passionate. These aren't limited only to sexuality because it's Self-energy, right? So, we always have Self with us. So, times when we're really getting passionate about something that we're doing. I kind of refer to that as Steamy. And then Satisfying is that there's not agenda. That whatever has happened, it doesn't depend on a particular bodily function or a particular act in order to feel satisfied. At any time our part's really unblend and we're able to be present to Self-energy that that is satisfying inherently.
Aníbal: So, you are saying that sexuality can be motivated by Self or by parts? That we can have Self-led motivated sexuality or Parts-led motivated sexuality. So, we also can say that we can have burdened sexual systems?
Aníbal: And if yes, how do they look like and what are some indicators?
Patty: Yeah. So, in a burden sexual system, and of course there's a picture of spectrum, you know, I don't think anyone goes through this life without any burdens around sexuality...
Aníbal: Of course.
Patty: But some of us have less and some of us have had tremendous trauma and pain and are, you know, tremendously burdened. So, those burdens can come in lots of different ways. So, and they might be explicitly sexual or not explicitly sexual, right? So, a system that's burdened anyway, with feelings of maybe not being lovable or worthy or having been harmed physically or sexually, you know, that's going to bring a lot of burden into the system most likely, right? In terms of emotions, beliefs, et cetera. So, a system can become sexually burdened the same way other burdens come in, or it could be very particular to the kinds of shame and pain that are specific to having had negative sexual experiences, those larger cultural messages based on one's physical body or appearance, maybe having an identity that's not congruent with one's inner experience of oneself in terms of gender or sexual orientation or other things. So those burdens can come in and in a lot of different ways. And then the protective system develops around that, right? So, we're going to have more extreme managers, more extreme firefighters, depending on how much burden is in a system. So a lot of times the inner burdened system firefighters might be there in terms of either shutting down sexuality and things like dissociating, avoiding, numbing with chemicals, or in other ways, you know, firefighters might show up in those ways or firefighters might use sexuality, you know, kind of like we were talking about earlier in order to shut down other feelings. So, being able to, to get those, you know, the rush of all those chemicals that get released or the feelings of power or of escape from the moment, you know, in a burden system those things are more extreme.
Aníbal: So, are you saying that not seeking consent or compulsivity or shame and regret after sex or lack of pleasure or aversion and avoidance of sex or not feeling free to say yes, no or maybe, all those are indicators of a burden sexual system?
Patty: They very much could be. And like all things IFS, you know, if someone has determined that some of that, some of those things are happening for them, and that is a Trailhead of interest for them, then, you know, they can kind of ask the parts and find out what are they doing and why, and, you know, that would point in that direction.
Aníbal: And the same for shame and guilt or I'm unlovable, or I'm bad, I'm dirty, I'm disgusting and broken. All those can be common sexual burdens?
Patty: Yes. Yes. And I feel there's a particular pain to the kinds of shame people feel around sexuality. You know, I think shame is...Many people are teaching and, you know, working with shame and that's painful in any form. And I think that because of our cultures, that the kind of shame people carry around sexuality can be particularly painful. You know, people can feel particularly exiled or judged or exile aspects of themselves with so much harshness based on, you know, values around sexuality. So, yes, that can definitely be, and it's, that's one of the passions I bring to this subject. This is really kind of why I think I'm so motivated around this is that I've just worked with so many people who suffer so much and whose parts suffer so much for not being allowed, you know, just not being allowed to be who they are, to tell their stories. And it's life-threatening, you know, the rates, you know, suicidal parts can be very active when there's this kind of shame or exiling in the system. There's a lot of consequence to us not being able to bring ourselves to those parts, both as clients and as therapists. Conversely, there could be a lot of healing when we do.
Tisha: As Aníbal was asking his last question around parts that say yes or no or maybe, it made me think about the issue of consent and I know there's multi tears with that. And like the first thing that comes to mind is consent within the therapy setting to talk about sex and to get that Self-energy between therapist and client. And I'm just curious about the different levels of consent and how you talk about that with clients and how that works within the IFS model.
Patty: It's a favorite subject of mine. So, I have a lot of parts chattering about where to start there, because there's the consent in our own system to even be present, you know, to the topic. And then there's the consent that happens in terms of ourselves as the, you know, if we're therapists, making sure that we have permission and we're not imposing or intruding in any way on the clients, you know, with the client. And at the same time, recognizing that a lot of people don't necessarily put out their content related to sexuality with a belief that it's not allowed, or it's not welcome, or it would be embarrassing, right? And so, how do we kind of welcome the topic without being intrusive or, you know, going past anyone's boundaries or protective system. So, I came to think about consent in terms of consent, if I could take it out of the therapy context for a minute and more into like a social context, there's, you know, been an increased awareness, obviously of sexual assault and both over, just in the news and, you know, in the public consciousness, you know, we're hearing a lot the “Me Too" stories and, you know, an awareness that sexual harassment and sexual boundaries can be violated both intentionally and less intentionally. And along with that, there've been a lot of different consent models that have been proposed, you know, like how do you explicitly ask for consent before engaging sexually with another person or making an overture, right? And what I noticed is that people, if they get as far as using a consent model, how do they know who's consenting basically, you know, because the part that's dominant in that situation might speak, but there might not be necessarily a consensus amongst the parts inside of each person about what consent is. So, I started to call that internal consent, you know, that not before you can really give consent to someone else, are you able to take a moment to be with your own parts and to see if you have like a consensus, you know, are all your parts okay with what it is that you're about to, you know, possibly do? Or are there polarities? And this gets back to burdens, right? When there's a highly burdened system, someone might not have access to as much Self-energy to be able to listen to all of their parts. And as people start to heal sexually, the system becomes less burdened and there's more access to the wisdom of our managers that are not burdened that can sort of see if this is good for us or not. You know, we can check in with the whole range of parts in order to consent.
Aníbal: So, we can see Part-motivated sexuality and Self-lead sexuality. Is Part-motivated sexuality always bad?
Patty: I would say, I would not want to be kind of adding to a sense of polarization that people may have, you know, around like kind of good sexuality, bad sexuality. And along those lines, you know, I would not say part-led sexuality is inherently bad, you know, like, we need our parts, just like in our larger system, the goal isn't to get rid of our parts, right. It's to have a harmonious system with as little burden as possible, so that Self and parts can kind of be in harmony. And so, you know, our parts might motivate sex for lots of reasons. In fact, an activity I often do in a workshop would be having a group brainstorm all the reasons they could think of that someone might want to have sex and also, maybe why they wouldn't, you know. And so, they range from things like I, you know, being able to sleep, "I got to fall asleep tonight," you know, to deal with stress, to feel close, you know, there's so many different ways that parts might turn to sexuality to do their jobs and that are not necessarily negative. Do you know what I mean? Just like eating, it's very akin to eating, right? Like eating is a biological function, but it also is something our parts might use food to socialize with others or to stay awake at night or, you know what I mean? So, our parts might motivate...
Aníbal: Yeah. Make sense, yes.
Patty: And if I could just add one thing there, I do like to not limit thinking about sexuality, to couples and interpersonal sexual behavior. I'd like to frame that we're sexual, you know, there's aspects of sensuality and appropriate to our developmental stage. It's an aspect of life from birth to death. And so, sexuality and consent to sexuality doesn't only involve others, but you know, is as an individual, something about how we live in our own skin and how we navigate and present ourselves to the world. And also, sexual activity can be solo as well as, as partnered. And that the whole notion even of consent and internal consent is relevant on an individual level within our internal community, as much as it is interpersonally or in a long-term relationship.
Tisha: Right. So, there can be shame around individual sexual acts or there can be parts that hold the guilt, or maybe even ancestral or religious burdens?
Patty: Definitely. Yes. And polarities, many polarities can exist around sexual behavior and sexual values.
Tisha: It's clearly, there's so much territory to cover with this topic. I'm curious if you have any advice for listeners around how to begin to open up to those six S's of Self around sexuality when either working with clients or working with their own system. Where do we all start?
Patty: Again, I would recommend a U-turn, you know, even listening to this conversation, you know, there's been a choice made to listen to this topic. So, I imagine there'd be some level of curiosity. And just to notice what's here and kind of where is the curiosity and does it feel possible to check for consent to do more exploring. You know, some people may feel clearly that this isn't something they're interested in, others might feel some of that curiosity. And then, in terms of the six S's, I like to frame it as, just like with the eight C's, we might ask ourselves, you know, we can figure out if we're blended or not, by saying, "Am I feeling calm right now? Am I feeling compassion?" You know, that's like an anchor. And then if I'm not, then I must be blended with a part. So, I see that the six S's can work similarly. So, if you're just saying "Am I feeling safe right now?" You know, or "Am I feeling sensual right now?" You might pretty quickly get a response of I am or I'm not. And then you can bring curiosity. Okay, like "What's between me and feeling safe right now," you know, "What's between me and feeling sensual." And then that might bring you to some parts. And you can then use, you know, the ways that we do things in IFS.
Tisha: There’s parts, for sure. Just scratching the surface while you were talking. "Oh, yeah, there's parts." That's great though, Patty, that was a great explanation, thank you.
Patty: And I actually find that that's just another way to check for Self-energy and these things are not limited only to sexuality, right? Like the work we do in any area that helps us to access more Self-energy can be used in lots of different ways, right? So, you know, sort of being in touch with our senses and you know, those S words can help us to access more Self and not only in a sexual context. Yeah.
Aníbal: Patty, do you think we may benefit from identifying and talk to Self-lead sexual managers and to burdened sexual managers? These can be helpful for our own lives and our client's lives, sexual lives?
Patty: I think it, it can be very meaningful to ask within our system, you know, "Who's here that has a job to do, to keep me safe in regard to sexuality?" And, you know, sometimes we tend to go for the pain points and not always appreciating the parts that are just on the job, doing what they do. And so, I think it can be really very meaningful to recognize our sexual managers and what it is that they're doing for us. And again, if there's less burden in the system, we may have more, they may have a little more space and a little more freedom to do their job with less pressure. If there's a lot of burden in the system, they may not have a lot of room. They might not be able to take their eyes off their job enough to even, you know, connect a whole lot with Self. So...
Aníbal: I'm going to quote you. You say "manager parts might be concerned with preventing sex and they have different strategies for preventing that. Preventing pregnancy, unwanted pregnancies or diseases. So, managers, if the system is burdened, these parts are going to take on more extreme roles. In an unburden system they can be very helpful. So is mostly what you've just said.
Patty: Yeah. I would want to broaden that in terms of sexual managers, right? That they, you know, our parts may, our manager parts may say yes to sex in order to do their jobs, or they may say no to sex in order to do their jobs, or they might just monitor what's happening during a sexual encounter, you know, just "is the door closed? Are the kids in bed? Are we using protection? Does my partner seem happy? My leg is numb. I need to do something different here." You know, so I would say all of that is in the domain of the managers, manager type parts. So, when they're pretty much in the here and now, you know, they're able to be more flexible and responsive, but if their primary job is to prevent pain, prevent exiles from being triggered, that's when our sexual managers may be trying to perform, make sure that we are really pleasing a partner, very concerned about maybe not lasting long enough or looking good enough, maybe wants to avoid sex because sex is a trigger. So, just maybe the managers find a lot of different ways to stay busy and avoid, you know, opportunities. So, they might do their jobs in different ways.
Aníbal: I'm going to quote you again, this time for the firefighters. You say "looking over at the firefighters again, they tend to be concerned with quick urges for pleasure. They can be impulsive and impulsively wanting to have pleasure, relief pain, emotional, or physical pain, procrastinating and procuring. So, firefighters might use sex to get something else that's needed, like drugs say, or money. Firefighters might use the sexual system to help in other ways." So, these are examples of firefighters-led sexuality, but can you give us examples of Self-lead sexual firefighters?
Patty: Yes. Yeah. That's always kind of a question people have when I talk about this, right? So, if we think of a firefighter as a reactive part, like a reactive protector, right? We may have situations where, for instance, if someone's just had something really scary happen and then they come home to a partner and they want to be really close with them and they have a very urgent desire to be close, and maybe they're going to kind of have sex. I like to say that whereas a burdened firefighter is sort of disconnected and does what it does almost autonomously, that in a Self-lead system, it's almost like the firefighter knocks on the door and Self says come in. So, it's reactive, but there's a sense that it's okay, you know, like I've come home to someone and this is okay, this is a person that I'm allowed to do this way, right? And so, there might be an urgency and a reactive, you know, I'm trying to calm myself. I'm trying to get rid of a feeling, you know, I'm trying to reconnect again in a sort of urgent way. So, that could be what I would think of as a more Self-lead firefighter, right?
Aníbal: You also talk of learning to l.u.s.t., how do we learn to l.u.s.t.?
Patty: Yes. So l.u.s.t. is an acronym that I came up with. It stands for loving your unblended sexual team. You got to keep the your as a lowercase. Loving your unblended sexual team.
Aníbal: Sounds good.
Patty: And so the idea is that by bringing radical welcoming to your own parts that are related in any and all aspects of your sexuality, which is a process over time, starting wherever you are, but just bringing curiosity and sort of unblending parts bit by bit that have any kind of role or burden or story related to your sexual wellbeing as you unblend those parts, they start to be able to be on your team. You know, they form a connection with Self, start to get to know other protectors or other young parts and become a resource to us. So, when we have unblended those parts and have a Self to part relationship with a diverse range of our own sexual parts, we can learn to l.u.s.t., You know, meaning that we can experience an unblended and harmonized system when it comes to sex and sexuality.
Aníbal: Beautiful. And Patty, does the world need a Self-led sexuality?
Patty: Yes. Yes.
Aníbal: And why do we need it?
Patty: What the world needs now is l.u.s.t.
Tisha: Because we need to learn to l.u.s.t.
Patty: And of course, it's a bit of a joke, right? Because the l.u.s.t. can also be something we typically might think of as, you know, out of control or I don't know, people bring their own sets of meanings to that. And so, yeah.
Tisha: In exploring my own system with...I have a great IFS therapist and I was doing some inner work around sexuality and we came upon a burden that...I grew up in the nineties and we came upon a burdened part that had feared that if she had sex, she would die. She could contract HIV and die. And that was a real fear that was guiding my sexual behavior for a long time. But I didn't know it was there, but it had just been hammered into us pretty heavily.
Tisha: So yeah, I share that example because to have freed that up and just to get in touch with it was, was so honoring of how much was here.
Patty: Thank you. Thank you for sharing that.
Aníbal: Patty, you talk of five modalities for cultivating Self-lead sexuality. What are those five modalities?
Patty: One of them is IFS, IFS based model, but the next would be Embodiment. The next would be Sex Education. The next would be Social and Sexual Justice and the last would be Behavioral Exploration. And I guess I'm thinking of that now in terms of how, you know, our parts take pickup information and maybe really need updating, right? And so, when Self from a Self place can really be in connection with a part and help it to, as you so beautifully shared, maybe unburden something that isn't accurate through an updating process and possibly providing just a teensy-weensy, little bit of information that might, you know, help to update the part with something accurate, it can be tremendously relieving, you know, to the part and to the system
Aníbal: And, Patty, as the world needs so much a Self-led sexuality, are you putting together a model on sexuality or are you just writing a book on Self-led sexuality?
Patty: Yes. I haven't quite known how to refer to it because it is an approach, so I'm sort of calling it a model. It's an approach. I would say it's an approach and I'm hoping to do more writing. I'm getting to know my writing parts and wanting to be able to, you know, disseminate this perspective more widely. Yeah.
Tisha: I feel like we could have your back and have another discussion that dives more deeply into the five modalities, especially around social justice issues. So, I would look forward to that if you'd be open to coming back.
Patty: Yes. I would be honored. It would be lovely. There's always a lot to say it's a big, it's a huge area of life, right? And so, I guess I also want to say that I don't want to pretend to know what's right or wrong for anybody else, you know, or what's true of their system. And it's just big, I'm hoping to open a conversation with other people about this and for people to maybe open conversations within their own systems and to bring curiosity and just kind of open it up.
Tisha: It's really important. Yeah.
Aníbal: Patty, you have an IFS and sexuality clinical consultation group, right?
Patty: I do. I'm just starting a group now and I may be starting some additional groups as we move forward.
Aníbal: Do you want to say more about that consultation? What kind of consultation is?
Patty: Sure. Thank you. This particular group will be a small group and I wanted to have a space where people who are somewhat versed in IFS, you know, who've had Level 1 training or equivalent. So, they have some grounding in IFS to talk about cases related to sex and sexuality, and also to work with their own therapist parts and to learn a little more of some of the lenses that I'm bringing to this. So, this is a group that's going to be starting in January and I’m close to full with that one right now, but I'm sensing more interests so, I may be starting up another moving forward in the spring.
Aníbal: Beautiful. Interesting. So, Patty, thank you so much for having us. It was a joy to be here with you and Tisha, and we hope we can keep meeting and sharing this model, your work and our lives.
Tisha: Thank you so much.
Aníbal: Thank you so much.
Recorded 8th January 2021
Transcript Edition: Carolina Abreu