The Emerging Paradigm: Multiplicity and the Psychospiritual nature of being.
Derek P. Scott RSW
Midway through the second decade of this millennium the emerging model of the psyche seems to be that of multiplicity.
John Rowan, author of “Subpersonalities, The People Inside Us” (1990) regards the development of subpersonalities as “autonomous or semi-autonomous parts of the person”, noting that it “seems to be a regular temptation of people working in this field, to try to classify the subpersonalities in some way”. He refers to many theorists including Freud on the superego, Jung’s complexes, Ferrucci’s subpersonalities, Watkins and Johnson’s ego-state theory, Berne’s model of Transactional Analysis, Stewart Shapiro’s concept of subselves, the Voice Dialogue work of Hal Stone and Sidra Winkelman, the “potentials” of Alvin Mahrer, Virginia Satir’s work with Parts and the work of Genie Laborde in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP).
Similarly Richard Schwartz, founder of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model observes that, “Self psychology speaks of grandiose selves versus idealizing selves; Jungians identify archetypes and complex; Gestalt therapy works with the top dog and the underdog; and cognitive-behavioural therapists describe a variety of schemata and possible selves… (suggesting) that the mind is far from unitary”
Schwartz’s model appears to be the most effective for addressing intrapsychic dynamics when compared with the above models that incorporate multiplicity. More than simply a description of multiplicity, Schwartz articulates a structure that makes sense of the ‘chaos’ while simultaneously providing a method for bringing greater peace into the system.
In addition to the many parts that constitute the system, we also all have a Self, according to Schwartz. The Self is characterized by the presence of the following qualities: calmness, clarity, curiousity, compassion, confidence, courage, creativity and connected-ness. His understanding of Self corresponds somewhat to the “willingness, openness and… gentle, kindly, friendly awareness” present in mindfulness-based treatment approaches but what makes his approach truly effective is the recognition that all parts are functioning in ways that they regard as necessary for maintaining the health and integrity of the system. While some may be destructive in their present state these behaviours may be seen as a result of a good part forced into a bad role.
Self is not merely the passive observer, it has “emergent compassion, lucidity, and wisdom to get to know and care for these inner personalities”
Schwartz’s model uniquely affords us a move away from the pathogenic view of the human being that has so dominated our field. He invites us into an understanding that no part of the system is unwelcome; no thoughts, feelings or behaviours are deemed as inherently bad.
Additionally this model wholly supports the client as the locus of control, fostering dependence on the client’s Self and not the therapist’s expertise.
1. Become familiar with/deepen their understanding of the IFS model
2. Be able to discern the role of proactive aspects of the protective system from reactive aspects of the protective system
3. Be invited to reflect on their own “parts” that engage in the therapeutic process
4. Develop an understanding of how to develop and facilitate greater self-compassion
Derek Scott is a registered social worker and certified IFS (Internal Family Systems) therapist with an international private practice via Skype based in London Ontario. He has worked in the field of counselling/therapy for 35 years. He is a popular guest lecturer at the University of Western Ontario and has presented at numerous national and international conferences. He is a published author writing in the area of the Internal Family Systems and grief.
Derek’s personal and professional experiences with multiple loss and burnout have taught him the value of attending to his own parts’ needs and he brings these values to his work with professional caregivers. He balances his work life with time with his 12 year old daughter and his three dogs.
Check out his excellent Youtube Site at: https://www.youtube.com/user/derektherapist