Individual Counseling Using Parts of Self

Individual Counseling Using Parts of Self

When I meet new clients for individual counseling you’ll find me talking about “parts of who you are” from the get go. Anyone who talks with me: friend, family, or client will notice that I mention “parts” in my everyday talk. In individual counseling, understanding the parts of who we are is essential to understanding ourselves. Parts capture all the ways in which we think, act, and feel.

You may quickly relate. Have you ever noticed a critical voice in your head that says something like “you’re so stupid! Why did you do that?” Or a judging part that criticizes others to the tune of: “look at what that person is wearing!”

Many parts in the Internal System Individual Counseling

Many parts in the Internal System have different functions and capabilities.

It’s different to think of ourselves as parts. Typically we think of ourselves as unitary beings, a bit monolithic. It’s typical to think “that’s just me” or “this is just who I am.” Interestingly though, as we begin to explore these different ways of being, acting, thinking and feeling we often find the nature of a part. A part is an aspect of who you are that developed this way for some particular reason or purpose. More commonly it’s the idea of coping mechanisms; however I find parts to be a bit more elaborate.

Different Types of Parts

Most parts are devoted to our protection and manage or react to events in our daily lives. For example, a planning / controlling part maybe working on your behalf to protect you from surprises or unplanned disruptions that other parts can’t handle being thrown off by.  Having multiple parts is a universal human experience.

Sometimes parts are more or less desired. Often reactive parts feel less desired as they’re the ones that work on our behalf to protect us, but at all costs. These parts may take the lead in road rage, yelling at someone you love, or cutting off relationships. Perhaps that’s the “angry part” of who you are. Generally these reactions have an underlying function of keeping us from the pain or hurt of the event. But that aspect, the pain or hurt, is typically more deeply held and less obvious at face value.

Noticing Parts brings Calm, Clarity, and Healing

New individual counseling clients often note that it’s really helpful to begin noticing themselves as many parts. In fact, it helps really intense emotion feel a little less overwhelming when you can begin to step back and notice, ‘oh this is a part that is reacting right now.’ You then notice the difference between feeling this way at times versus the dreadful labeling of this being the totality of who you are.

Individual counseling using parts work helps you to open up more space within to better know yourself and to understand why you do what you do. As we explore the multifaceted landscape of these parts we’ll begin to have access to heal the parts that hold pain, hurt, and trauma; and that’s the hope of all psychotherapy. Together we will explore this internal system of parts to help bring more balance and clarity to you as a whole.Parts of Self Individual Counseling


About Heather Smith, LPC

Heather Smith, LPC offers marriage counseling and couples counseling, as well as treatment for Trauma, Depression, and Anxiety in Alexandria, VA. Heather’s passion for counseling comes out in her avid pursuit of continuing education and specialty training. Heather actively trains in the model of Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT) and has substantial specialized training in psychological trauma to include completing her Certificate in Level 1 Trauma Training from the Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education.

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