Toni Herbine-Blank on IFIO and the new IFS Couple Therapy Skills Manual
Toni Herbine-Blank, MS, RN, C-SP, is a Clinical Specialist Psychotherapist and Senior Trainer for the IFS Institute.
Toni was trained in Family Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania where she earned both her RN and advanced practice degree in Psychiatric Nursing. She began training students in Internal Family Systems Therapy in 2004 and since has been instrumental in designing programs and writing curricula for Levels 1 and 2 IFS training programs.
Toni has been in private practice since 1996 specializing in the treatment of couples and individuals. In 2009, after designing a training for IFS therapists to apply the model to couples therapy, Toni offered the first Intimacy from the Inside Out© Training Program in Boston, Massachusetts. Since then the program has been received with great enthusiasm across the United States.
Toni has authored, with Martha Sweezy, a brand new manual on couple therapy called "Internal Family Systems Couple Therapy Skills Manual: Healing Relationships with Intimacy from the Inside Out" (Pesi-2021). She also co-authored "Intimacy from the Inside Out: Courage and Compassion in Couple Therapy (Routledge-2015) with Donna Kerperlman and Martha Sweezy.
Toni's passion is in guiding therapists to become courageous, clear and confident. She has a reputation for being a creative, lively, and fiercely compassionate trainer. Toni currently lives in Durango, Colorado with her husband Jordan. They enjoy the magnificent outdoors whenever possible accompanied by their horses and dogs.
If you want to learn more about IFIO trainings here IFIO website.
Today on IFS Talks we are honored to be welcoming Toni Herbine-Blank. Toni is a clinical specialist, psychotherapist and senior trainer for the IFS Institute. She was trained in family therapy at the university of Pennsylvania, where she earned both her RN and advanced practice degree in psychiatric nursing. Toni began training students in Internal Family Systems therapy in 2004, and since has been instrumental in designing programs and writing curricula for Levels 1 and 2 IFS training programs. Toni has been in private practice since 1996, specializing in the treatment of couples and individuals.
In 2009, after designing a training for IFS therapists to apply the model to couples’ therapy, Toni offered the first Intimacy from the Inside Out training program. Toni is the author along with Martha Sweezy and Donna Kerpelmanof Intimacy from the Inside Out: Courage and Compassion in Couples Therapy and of a new book co-authored with Martha Sweezy called Internal Family Systems Couples Therapy Skills Manual: Healing Relationships with Intimacy from the Inside Out. Toni currently lives in Durango, Colorado with her husband, Jordan. They enjoy the magnificent outdoors whenever possible, accompanied by their horses and dogs.
Tisha Shull: Toni, welcome to IFS talks. Thank you so much for being here with us today.
Toni Herbine-Blank: Thank you so much for having me.
Aníbal Henriques: Thanks much, Toni, for taking the time to speak with us. It's such an honor to have you in the show. How is it for you, Toni, to hear this bio, what parts come up?
Toni: You know, I always have a little, some nervous parts when I am being interviewed and I always, I have a part that thinks I'm going to have a brain freeze even after all these years of teaching IFS and teaching IFIO. So, but just talking to the two of you before we get started, I feel those parts have relaxed, I feel pretty good and I'm actually grateful, grateful you invited me. And I know it's taken me awhile to say yes, but here I am so...and great to be talking about IFIO and my journey with IFS.
Aníbal: You're welcome.
Tisha: Will you share with us a little bit about what oriented you to couples work?
Toni: May have something to do with my childhood. You know, that's an interesting question because I'm not really sure about that. My husband and I signed up for Imago therapy couples’ workshop before we were even married, so probably 30 years ago. And I had just earned my advanced practice degree and I really loved that model and it gave us a lot of insight into ourselves. And I think that was the beginning of that. My older sister and her husband are also couple therapists and I think I was very influenced by them as well. And I, soon after my husband and I took that workshop, I signed up to be trained as an Imago therapist. And so, it all just started to steamroll at that time.
Tisha: Was there anything in your childhood that oriented you more than others towards couples’ work?
Toni: Well, my sister and I laugh about this, that both of us ended up being couples therapists and that there was most likely something going on in our family system that, or our awareness of our parents relationship that's motivated that. I sometimes joke when I'm teaching students that my couple therapy practice began when I was four years old. I started tracking my parents' relationship and deciding as a young child that I actually could coach them on how their relationship could improve. So, I just started, I started noticing a lot at a very young age about their relationship and the relationships in the rest of the family. So...
Aníbal: And Toni, when and how did you get across IFS? How did you come to be involved in the model?
Toni: I was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an east coast city. At some point, I'm trying to even think of the year of that, but I can't bring it up. And I was in an Imago relationship supervision group and there was somebody in that group named Chris Mathna who had just taken the IFS training. She was also an Imago relationship therapist and she would come into that supervision groups so excited about IFS, and none of us could figure out what she was talking about. So, she encouraged me to take the training and I put her off because I didn't really understand. I bought the IFS book, but I still didn't. It wasn't catching me. And then, a year later she was really, she was really adamant. You really need to come and find out about this. So, I signed up out of peer pressure and I went to Connecticut to take the IFS Level 1 in, I think it was either 1999, end of 1999 or beginning of 2000. And Dick was our trainer. And a lot of people whose names you know, Mike Elkin, Pamela Krouse, Ralph Cohen were our assistant trainers and people like Ann Sinko and Mona Barbera and Paul Neustad were in the training with me. So, it was at one of the early trainings and some of the current trainers came out of that training. And so that's how it all started for me. And I always like to say, because this is not people's usual experience, I didn't like it much. I had a lot of issues with it. I, you know, I've had a lot of resistance to it, to the model and the two things that really changed my mind were when I started watching Dick work and it really peaked my interest, how safe he could make it for people to do such deep work in such a short amount of time. And so that peaked my interest. And then my trainer along with Dick was somebody called Michi Rose. I don't know if you've heard of Michi but Michi is the one that I started to learn from and where things began to really start to make sense what we were up to in this model. So, you know, it took me a little while, but obviously, eventually, I did take to it.
Tisha: So, do you recall what the resistance was about? Cause I'm sure a lot of people meet the model with that.
Toni: Well, first of all, I was a psychodynamic therapist. So, the relationship is very key in that, you know, when you're working dynamically with people and Dick's big message to us was “Get out of the way, get out of the way, get out of the way.” And it wasn't until much later when we started having conversations with Dick around, yes, we need to get out of the way, but the therapeutic relationship is critical to this work where he had to succumb to that. And he actually wrote a chapter in the book about it. So, my resistance first was, you know, the sort of the dismissing of the therapeutic relationship with that, which I hold with great value. And then there was something about the spiritual aspect that was difficult for me. I had spent some years in a yoga ashram living in a yoga ashram. And so, there was just a little bit of, I don't know, a part sort of talking to me about, be careful here because you know, we're not going to just walk blindly into this concept without being discerning, without trying it on without paying attention to what my gut was telling me, because for years I just dismissed those things. So those were probably the two big red flags in the beginning for me. And we had a really wonderful staff in that Level 1 training. And they were really available for people's freak outs about what was going on. And so, I just remember having lots of conversations with lots of different people and getting lots of different perspectives and being given a lot of permission, which I think is one of the strengths in this model, a lot of permission to just don't take it, just don't do it because we say it's great, you know, have some discernment, ask your questions, be thoughtful, challenge us, you know, challenge the model, challenge the theory. And so, it was helpful in that way. I didn't feel like I had to fight, you know, nobody was going to fight me on any of my parts with resistance. So that was a lovely thing.
Aníbal: Toni, when did you start leading IFS trainings and finally designing a brand-new couples therapy model?
Toni: I was an assistant trainer. If I'm remembering correctly. I had my first assistant trainership in 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts, and I actually did two of them simultaneously. Back then, there weren't a lot of trainers and there weren't a lot of assistant trainers. So, and as IFS was growing, there was a greater need. So, I believe I did two in one year being an assistant trainer in 2004. And even before I was an assistant trainer, you know, back in the day in a Level 1 training weekend 4, Dick or whoever the trainer was, introduced the idea of working with couples and I had already been a pretty seasoned couple therapist by that time. And when I, when they taught us, because Dick had three protocols that he developed, that he used with couples and when he taught those to us, they made a lot of sense to me, but I was a very, very seasoned couples therapist, so I could translate it quite quickly. I could translate this to that, this to that, that to this. And I remember saying to him “You know, this could be very powerful”. This was even way back, you know, before I was a trainer, this could be powerful if we helped, you know, therapists really apply this to their work with couples. So, the conversation started early. And then, then I had the experience of not wanting to work with couples anymore and just work with individuals because it was such a beautiful process and took less energy and was easier to access Self-energy. So, I stopped seeing couples for a while and then somewhere along the line, I thought, yeah, you know, this has been a passion of mine for so many years, maybe I don't have to toss it. Maybe I don't have to just throw it all away. And so, I started thinking about going back to seeing couples, adding some IFS perspective to my couples’ work, and then started thinking more and more, how could we translate this? Because it's, you know, IFS itself is very, very nuanced. So how can we take the nuances of individual therapy and start to develop a program where IFS therapists could start learning how to apply this in their couple work. And it just kind of took off. And in 2010, I believe the first training was a pilot. And, you know, I've changed the curriculum honestly for probably nine years until we, I feel like we finally got it right. You know, and we'll always be going back and thinking about how to make it deeper, richer program.
Tisha: I'm really appreciating what you brought to couples’ work. And I'm curious what that was like for you to see this process unfolding with the actual couples you are working with. What was, what did you see happening and what was it like to kind of take that in and make adjustments?
Toni: One of the things that I love love about IFS is this idea of unblending, which is to me inherently affect regulating. And when I was, you know, as I was just getting into IFS and working with couples, I was in a situation where I was being referred a lot of couples who the therapists that worked around me were saying nobody can help these people. So, I was really faced with a lot of challenges and I was an Imago relationship therapist, since I started to add some of IFS, I saw that the Imago process worked way better if people could understand the concept of unblending. So that was a first thing that I saw is how do we create, you know, this unblending is a way to create more safety. The other thing that unblending offered me was a way for people to, in IFIO and IFS now we call it a U-turn. But what I noticed is that in order for people to do these attachment behaviors that we're asking them to do, to listen, to tune in, to meet each other's needs, to listen skillfully, to speak, you know, to speak honestly without wounding, they really had to have some kind of a sense of inner connection in order to do that well. And that's another thing that unblending offers couples is I can be with myself first, so I can get regulated, I can listen to myself, I can hold on to myself, maybe someday love myself. And in doing this, my relationship with my partner is going to become less reactive. And that's another thing I saw, a big shift is, and a lot of help from me, a lot of help from the therapist in order to do that. That's not easy when your protectors are really activated. You know, when our protectors in relationship are focused on getting something or hurting the other person, it's very hard to ask them to go this way, to ask them to go inside. But once we do, my experience is it really shifts the dynamic. And once people understand that vulnerability is what drives these protectors, exiles is what drives, you know, the needs and the wounds of exiles, is what drives these protectors, it changes their thinking, you know, and even just mentioning to people that this feeling that you have is just one part of yourself, it's not all of who you are, that changes, that's a game changer in relationship as well.
Aníbal: So, Toni, what is IFIO and how do you differentiate IFS from Intimacy from the Inside Out? How do they differentiate?
Toni: Well, Intimacy from the Inside Out is the application of IFS to couples’ therapy. So, I just, I want to say that, that there is a differentiation, but it is the model. You know, it is the model. And also, Dick Schwartz had these three protocols that he taught us in our Level 1 training. And so, the basic protocols are born out of those. So, the model is all about parts and Self. And what differentiates it from individual work with IFS is that the system is larger. You know, we're working with a bigger system, more parts, more parts, more legacies, more cultural differences, more cultural burdens, you know, that everything is just bigger and more dramatic...
Aníbal: Eventually fun as well.
Toni: And more therapist parts, right? So, the bigger the system, the bigger the system. So, you know, in the IFIO trainings, as with the IFS trainings, we are continually asking the therapists to check in, check in, check in, check in with what's happening for them.
Tisha: Are there sort of normative therapist parts that come up working with couples that you've identified, you know, like the top five or...
Toni: The top one that I observed and I'd be interested too in what my other trainers - I have 10 trainers at this point - would say, but is the exiles that get caught in the triangle of a couple therapy, because if you're sitting in front of a dyad that reminds you of an early dyad, then your system is going to start to respond. If you're not aware of it, your system will start to respond as you did in your, in where, you know, in your, you know, I don't want to say family because not everybody grows up in a family, but where your early childhood experiences took place, you're going to, you're going to begin to respond that way. Your parts are going to be, going to respond that way. Does that make sense? What I'm saying?
Tisha: Absolutely. Yeah. And it's not something that I considered. But of course, right? Yeah. So that's a big pitfall to be aware of.
Toni: So, in the beginning of a training, we talk about triangles and how a therapist has to create a safe triangle and actually not get triggered into childhood. Because once you're triggered into a child part, then you're no longer in Self anymore. So that's a big one. I would say another one is, and it probably all leads back to the same vulnerable exiles, you know, from childhood, but parts that can get annoyed because the parts in the clients aren't being compliant or...not being compliant, but you'll be working with an issue and everything's going well and then all of a sudden a protector comes up just like out of nowhere and triggers the, it can trigger the therapist. So, I think that's another pretty significant one. People come into these trainings and they take the training anyway, but they're scared to death of doing couples therapy because it's conflictual often, you know? So that's another part that comes up, the parts that want to avoid conflict. And they're usually young also, like this is scary, you know, what am I going to do, I don't know how to do this, what am I going to do parts, that's another one that comes up, anxiety comes up. So, these are some of the top ones.
Aníbal: And could you say, what are the main goals of IFIO?
Toni: I can. It’s funny that you asked that question, because, you know, as I've been working on this curriculum over the years, I've also been doing international trainings and in international trainings you are often being translated or interpreted. And so, you have a long, you have long spaces in between the questions, you know, or between what you're saying, you know, you say something and then the interpreter speaks and then you answer questions or whatever. And a couple of years ago when I was in France and I was talking about the goals, there were so many goals, it felt so cumbersome. You know, we have so many goals and I thought, you know, I have to, I have to get a little more concise here. Which I did, and one big goal is to help people decrease, you know, to, and I want to say, love their protectors into less reactivity, like less reactivity of the protectors will lead to more space in the inner system. And when there's more space in the inner system, people have more choices in how they want to respond. So, one of the big goals is to help people lessen the reactivity between them. And we could also say to help them get to a place of affect regulation so they can think and feel and pay attention to their parts and pay attention to how they want to respond to their partner. So, you know, all of that lessening, reactivity opening up more space inside, softening, you know, softening those protectors so that they're not on such high alert in the nervous system. So that's a big goal because I do believe that when people are blended, reactive, dysregulated, nothing really can happen between them that's going to lead to a more open-hearted loving connection. So that's another, another goal is how can we help people connect, reconnect? And that, you know, we haven't talked about what happens right in the beginning of therapy, but one of the things that happens right in the beginning of therapy is we ask the couple what they want. So, we're going to be, we're going to be with them on their journey that they have decided they want. And I hear so often we want to stop being reactive, we want to feel connected again, and we want to be able to communicate better. So, I listened to that, you know, I listen to people what they want and that's how we, you know, that's how we develop the goals with an individual couple. Another goal of IFIO, if the couple is interested in this, is changing how they communicate. And I am a huge proponent of helping people change their conversation. Not all couple therapy models have a dialogue process folded into their model. And I was in an Imago relationship therapist and that's a dialogic model. So, I took some of the beautiful things from that model and incorporated IFS into them. I believe that all couples, all couples should, if they want to be able to have any conversation, no matter how difficult. And I think this concept of speaking for parts and listening from Self is really, really powerful, you know, because when we're having difficult conversations, what we're doing is we're inviting ourselves to listen to the impact that we have had on our partner. And that's a tall order to ask people to listen to impact. So, we invite listeners to be aware that their feedback to us, that they're, you know, what they're sharing with us is not necessarily the truth about us, but more their experience of us. Am I making any sense here?
Tisha: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. That's fascinating.
Toni: Yeah. So, we do a lot of working. We do a lot of work with the listener, you know, how to unblend and prepare yourself to be open enough, to hear something that your protectors might not like. So, you know, we spend a lot of time there and I think, you know, what I've found over the years is that there's a lot of appreciation for how much time we actually do stay with the person who's listening. You know, we do a body scan, we check for protectors. We want to make sure that all of the concerns of all the protectors that are listening, we address them before we ask them to listen. So, and in the beginning, we don't dialogue, we, you know, we invite people to experiment with unblending, speaking and listening differently. So anyway, that was a long answer to your, to your goals. And I think one more goal that I'll say is that people can envision or revision their relationship and also learn how to heal from betrayals big and small, you know, the betrayals of everyday life. When I snap at my partner, because I've had a hard day or, you know, bigger betrayals that can occur throughout the lifetime of an intimate relationship.
Tisha: Do you find that exiles benefit from being witnessed by someone's partner? Like, is that something that happens and is needed? I know Self to exile witnessing is really important, but does something else happened when a partner witnesses your exile?
Toni: We call that, when it's done well, we call that a relational unburdening. It's very different than an individual unburdening process. So, something that occurs in couple therapy in IFS couple therapy, IFIO, is when we do individual work with one person, we want to really make sure that the witnessing, that their partner is really available for that witnessing. And that means they're unblended, they're regulated, their heart is soft, Their protectors are stepped back or relaxed or softened because in my mind, we don't want to set up a situation where the exile gets rebounded by a partner who's starting to get blended with a defensive reactive part. So, we're careful when we do this, you know, we're careful about this. And when a partner, I believe, when a partner can really witness the other person doing a deep piece of work, which where they are also witnessing their exile, that exile is being bathed in Self-energy...
Tisha: So sweet.
Toni: I know, isn’t it? And then the therapist is also holding with all this Self-energy. So, in my mind, there is no way that that exile isn't letting go of something. So the process, you know, even if the person doing the work doesn't even get to a complete unburdening, I believe wholeheartedly that that exile that is being bathed and all of this love and care is letting go and having a corrective experience, which is what we do when we're witnessing exiles internally. So, there is a corrective experience happening, and that exile also has the opportunity to see that the partner is also there for it. So, it's just a very beautiful relational experience of, you know, open-heartedness, love, letting go and holding for the exile. And I believe that's brain changing as well, you know, heart opening and brain changing. An exile being witnessed that way is powerful. Thank you for asking that question. I might've forgotten to...
Tisha: I’ve been curious about that, yes.
Aníbal: Toni, you, I guess you also coined this term courageous communication. What is this about?
Toni: What is this about? So, you know, I believe that asking partners to slow down to unblend, to listen skillfully, to speak with language that is not wounding, to self-disclose in a responsible way is an incredibly courageous act, because it's not intuitive. When parts, when exiles are wounded and protectors are energized, they want to, they want to speak for themselves, right? You know, they want the permission to attack, withdraw, shame, blame, because that feels in the moment like it's going to take care of whatever the wounding is. And so what we're asking, we're asking couples to please trust us that if they can do this this way, this is what's going to bring relief, not the attack, which is the impulse, you know, the impulse to attack or withdraw, that is not ultimately going to be bring relief and it's not ultimately going to reconnect you with this person who, you know, who you want to reconnect with, if that's the goal to reconnect with them. So, that's why I use that word courage, because I think it takes a lot of courage for the protectors to step back, for the exiles to feel safe enough to allow the conversation to go on.
Aníbal: Thank you, beautiful.
Tisha: Toni, in your bio, I named that you have a new book coming out, and I wonder if you would be willing to share about your process a little bit and about what the book offers?
Toni: Sure. First, I want to say that I do have a co-author and her name is Martha Sweezy and I want to just make sure that everybody knows that because this is a project that would never have been completed without her. So, Martha and I wrote the first book together, and I'm trying to remember how this all unfolded because I swore, I would never write a book again. So somehow somebody invited me into this. It might have been PESI itself. Who's the...
Toni: Yeah. So, I went back to Martha and I think, would you be willing to do this with me? And of course, we couldn't write the same book because it's a different publisher and we decided, or actually PESI wanted us to write a manual. They didn't want a book. They wanted a manual, which is a little bit different. And Martha is already the coauthor with Dick Schwartz and Frank Anderson on the trauma manual and they wanted the exact same format there. And over the years, since the first book I've been changing my thinking on several fronts and also wanted to start adding a section on neurobiology in couples therapy and some of the thinking about the power, more on the power of unblending, more on where I think we're going with unblending and just more on shame and more on this and more on that. So, we just decided that we would do it, and it would be really much more of a how to, so less theory, more cases, more roadmaps, more exercises for couples and, you know, so we just embarked on it. And, you know, because I already had the model, the basis basics of the model, it wasn't, we took the basics of the models. So, in some ways it's a reflection of the first book, but it's a little bit more of a how to, you know, where couple therapists can really, therapists can really, can read it and see, okay, now you do this, now you do this, Now you do...
Aníbal: So, Toni, this is the manual for therapists. This is not the manual for couples.
Toni: Right. Right. And, you know, I do have a part that says never again, you know, it's always saying never again. I'm never writing another book. I'm not a writer. It doesn't come easily to me. I go through all kinds of pain and suffering, writing, always have.
Tisha: So, it's been a challenge.
Toni: Yeah. So, maybe someday there'll be a book for couples, you know, IFIO manual for couples. Because we have tons of exercises. I mean, my trainers make up exercises. We're making up exercises all the time. So, it would make sense to get it into a manual at some point.
Aníbal: Toni, what are most couples asking for when they look for you or for us for help? What are their needs? What are they asking for?
Toni: So interesting, because there was the before COVID, and now there's the during COVID, you know, I think we talked about that earlier that couples are really struggling right now. I think domestic violence is on the rise it's, it's, it's really challenging. So, you know, in my experience, people come to get help because, well, there's the presenting parts and then there's the underneath thing. You know, people come, and they're so determined that their partner is a big problem and that's what needs to get fixed. You know, if I think I have some beliefs about human beings, all human beings, you know, I have a nervous system long to feel safe. And that couples long to feel connected in ways that they did early in their relationship. And you know, over many years of discord or disconnection or miscommunication or pain and hurt, you know, the protectors take over. And so, they've, they're missing the vulnerability and they're missing the heartfelt connection. And I think, and but what they say is, you know, we've had a terrible breach, we've had a terrible betrayal, we have to figure this out, we don't know if we're staying together, we don't communicate anymore, since we had children, we don't have sex anymore. You know, so those are the presenting parts, but I think underneath it, all people want to feel loved and they want to feel connected and they want to feel safe. And, even getting to that sometimes takes a while with people, you know, but I think, I think ultimately that's what, what people are asking for, but I listened very closely. You know, the other thing that I hear actually, which is what I start my trainings with, I believe that not only do all people want to feel connected, all people want to feel, or I'm not going to say all, many people want to feel that they can be themselves and be loved by the other person. Does that make sense? So, IFIO is a model of differentiation, which says, we want to help you create a relationship where both of your individualities are welcome and that you can be yourself and also be connected because I will hear often comments like I can't be myself with you when you do this, you'll give me hell, or, you know, there's a lot of conversations around. I just can't be. I don't feel like I can be myself, so I have to succumb to you, which is never what we want people to feel. Either people feel I have to succumb to you, or I have to get away from you. And one of our invitations is what if you could have yourself and the other person at the same time, especially, especially during conflict so that you didn't have to disconnect during conflict, but actually you could hold onto yourself and feel like you were a full person with a full Self and a whole set of parts that are valid and welcome. And, you know, that's a new one, that’s when you (inaudible) people, really, you know, that we could offer a trajectory, or we could offer a path where people could feel solid inside themselves and also connected to their partner, even when times are difficult. So, first there's curiosity there. And sometimes it takes a long time to get there.
Aníbal: Toni, in your website, you offer different modalities to get familiar with IFIO. You say you provide trainings, workshops, and retreats for therapists and people everywhere, seeking a liveliness, hope and meaningful change in their relationships.
Toni: That's our mission, right?
Aníbal: That’s our mission. So how do you differentiate those modalities you offer. How different they are?
Toni: So, the trainings are the trainings and that's a Level 2 training and IFS Level 2 training. So, it's under the umbrella of IFSI. And that is a 72. The basic training is a 72-hour training for IFS therapists who want to learn the basics of IFIO. And then following that, we have advanced trainings and post advanced trainings that are for people who want the nuances of the model, who really, really like it, love it, and want to dig in and learn how to use it in their offices. So that's the training track right there. And then before COVID, we, I have a little team and we offered IFIO couples retreats once a year in a beautiful place where couples could come in a safe environment, we have, you know, I have staff with me learn about communication, learn about the exile protector relationship, learn about how they can start to think about parts and Self in relationships. So, it's highly experiential. We have yoga teachers. We have, we always go somewhere. You know, we've been going to Mexico the last few years, but that's on hold for right now. So that's a highly experiential retreat, open to couples. And then, Aníbal, like the introductory workshop that you took, we offer those on occasion, you know, to, you know, honestly, between you and me, right after COVID started and everything got shut down, IFIO, it felt like we hit an iceberg actually. And I didn't know, I'm pretty small little operation. I have me and one assistant or two assistants and then these 10 trainers, and I wasn't sure what was going to happen. This was before all of a sudden everything went online. It shook me up a little bit. And my, at that time assistance said, why don't you offer a workshop and see what happens? And it was, so it was welcomed in such an overwhelming way that then we did another one. And I think you were in the second one. So, we'd never done that. I never done a workshop like that online before. So that's something we might do. You know, again, I don't, I don't really know, but the other thing is that we'll be invited to do all different kinds of introductory workshops here or there. Two of my staff just did an introductory sexuality workshop online. We're going to do some things on the brain and IFIO. And, you know, sometimes somebody will write to us and say, would you come and do a workshop for this group of people or that group of people? So, so that's, those are the workshops and those workshops are not, they don't, they don't give you, they don't give you any credit toward your, you know, your Level ones or your Level two IFS trainings. But we do always, even in the retreats, offer IFS CES. So, anything, anytime anybody does anything with us, you can use that toward your certification or your recertification.
Aníbal: Toni, I was going to ask you regarding the future for the IFIO model, what are your wishes and wonderings?
Toni: That's a question that I am in process with right now, currently. You know, I've been doing this for a long time, and I have polarized parts, you know, on one hand, I want to slow down and have a little bit less complicated, more peaceful life. On the other hand, as IFS is exploding worldwide, IFIO is right behind it. And so how I'm going to, honestly, how I'm going to deal with that, I don't know. I don't know right now. I'm in the process of, we are, my team, we're in the process of doing some anti-racism training and thinking about how the model can be taught in ways that is more inviting for black indigenous people of color, different cultures, you know, we're coming to you Aníbal. We were just in, you know, we just did a training for the Spanish. We're going to be training the French ongoingly. So, I'm really thinking about how can we really open this up and expand our thinking on one hand. So, I'm really at a crossroads. I really am. I literally right in the middle of, should I go straight? Should I go, right? Should I go left? Should I start peddling backwards as fast as I can.
Aníbal: And the world is changing as well.
Toni: The world is changing. Everything is changing. So, and you know, now that we're online, people from all over the world that could never get to these trainings are now able to get to these trainings. So, I'm just in a state of wonder about it. I have to admit.
Aníbal: Thank you.
Tisha: Yeah, thanks for that honest answer. Hopefully clarity will come your way with that.
Aníbal: Toni, 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 model, our work and our lives.
Toni: Well, thank you both. Nice to meet you both, finally.
Tisha: Yes, thank you, Toni. Thanks for your time today and all your wisdom and all the work that you've done. All your contributions.
Recorded 3rd March 2021
Transcript Edition: Carolina Abreu