Mental Health
What is Parts Work Therapy?

What is Parts Work Therapy?

6 min read


Lauren Carlson

In the ever-evolving realm of mental health and self-improvement, Parts Work Therapy emerges as an engaging and compassionate approach to personal growth. Rooted in the belief that we each contain multiple aspects within us, Parts Work Therapy invites us to explore the rich tapestry of our inner selves. It recognizes that our personalities are not singular entities but rather a complex mosaic of various components, each with its own thoughts, emotions, and needs. These "parts" are often shaped by our life experiences, beliefs, and feelings, influencing our behaviors and reactions.

In this blog, we will venture into the core principles of Parts Work Therapy, uncovering how it encourages us to connect with and embrace these different facets of ourselves. By fostering a compassionate relationship with these parts, we can work towards a more harmonious and authentic existence. 

What is Parts Work Therapy?

Parts Work Therapy, sometimes called Internal Family Systems Therapy (ISF), offers a unique and compassionate approach to exploring the intricate tapestry of our inner selves. It differs from many traditional therapeutic approaches in its fundamental philosophy and methodology.

Richard Schwartz, the founder of the Internal Family Systems model of psychotherapy, introduced the concept of the "internal family system." This visualizes and helps us understand the various aspects of ourselves, often referred to as "parts." These parts can represent different emotions, roles, and self-perceptions. They might include the "inner child," holding our early experiences, the "inner critic," known for self-judgment, or the "caretaker," striving to protect us.

The central idea of Parts Work Therapy is to engage with these parts through compassionate dialogue. Rather than suppressing or ignoring them, we acknowledge their existence and connect with them in a supportive and nurturing manner. This process allows us to unravel the emotional complexities that often lie beneath the surface, leading to a better understanding of our reactions, behaviors, and emotional triggers.

How does Parts Work Therapy differ from other therapeutic approaches?

At its heart, Parts Work Therapy embraces the idea that each of us is a complex amalgamation of different internal parts. These parts represent various aspects of our personality, emotions, roles, and self-perceptions. They often carry their beliefs, needs, and emotions, shaped by our life experiences. The key distinction lies in how Parts Work Therapy views these internal parts and how it engages with them:

Internal Family System (IFS)

Unlike traditional therapies that may see a person's psyche as a singular entity, Parts Work Therapy is built upon the concept of the "internal family system." It views the internal landscape as a dynamic assembly of different parts, each with unique characteristics.

Compassionate Exploration

What sets Parts Work Therapy apart is its approach to these parts. Instead of suppressing them, this therapy embraces each piece with compassion and curiosity. It seeks to understand the roles and functions of these parts, recognizing that they often emerge as protective parts or mechanisms in response to life's challenges.

Non-Judgmental Dialogue

In traditional therapy, certain emotions or thoughts may be labeled "negative" or "unwanted." Parts Work Therapy, however, encourages a non-judgmental dialogue with all parts, no matter their nature. This inclusive approach fosters a sense of acceptance and understanding of the full spectrum of human experience.


While other therapeutic approaches may aim to "eliminate" unwanted emotions or behaviors, Parts of Work Therapy focuses on self-integration. It guides individuals to establish a harmonious relationship between these internal parts, allowing them to coexist and work together rather than in conflict.

Inner Resources

One of the distinguishing features of Parts Work Therapy is the emphasis on discovering and enhancing internal resources within each part. These resources can include strengths, positive memories, and unique qualities often overshadowed by distressing emotions or thoughts.

Healing from Within

Parts Work Therapy seeks to provide healing from within, addressing unresolved emotional wounds and trauma by engaging with the various parts involved in these experiences.

The Journey of Self-Integration Through Part Works Therapy

The journey into Parts Work Therapy is a profound and transformative one. It's a voyage of aligning the different facets of ourselves and nurturing a harmonious inner dialogue. This process leads to self-integration, where the various parts within us collaborate rather than conflict, resulting in a more profound sense of inner peace, self-acceptance, and authenticity.

One of the critical elements of Parts Work Therapy is the therapist's role as a compassionate guide. The therapist provides a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to explore and understand their internal family system. Through guided conversations and techniques, clients can connect with their parts, gaining insight into their unique needs and emotions.

The Benefits of Parts Work Therapy

Parts Work Therapy offers a pathway to a more balanced and harmonious inner world, leading to a profound sense of well-being and personal growth. Here are some of the benefits of Part Work Therapy:

Emotional Healing

By acknowledging and engaging with your various parts, Parts Work Therapy provides a platform for emotional healing. It allows you to address unresolved emotional wounds and traumatic memories that may have been buried deep within your psyche. Through a compassionate and supportive dialogue with these parts, you can begin the process of healing and find closure to past pain.


One of the central pillars of Parts Work Therapy is the promotion of self-acceptance. Many individuals struggle with self-judgment and inner criticism, often due to conflicting internal parts. This therapy encourages you to embrace and integrate all aspects of yourself, even those you may have previously rejected or viewed as "negative." The result is a more profound sense of self-acceptance and self-love.

Improved Relationships

As you develop a healthier relationship with yourself through Parts Work Therapy, the benefits extend beyond self-discovery. When you gain a better understanding of your own emotions, reactions, and behaviors, you can bring greater clarity and compassion into your relationships with others. This often leads to improved communication and more harmonious interactions with loved ones.

Enhanced Resilience

Self-integration achieved through Parts Work Therapy can significantly enhance emotional resilience and coping mechanisms. When your internal parts are in harmony, you are better equipped to navigate life's challenges with grace and composure. The therapy provides you with valuable tools for dealing with stress and adversity.

Personal Growth

Engaging with your internal family system and working towards self-integration can be a powerful catalyst for personal growth. As you address and heal various parts of yourself, you may find newfound strengths and resources to propel you toward a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

Stress Reduction

The process of understanding and reconciling your inner conflicts often leads to a reduction in internal stress and turmoil. It can alleviate the emotional turbulence when different parts of yourself conflict, leading to a greater sense of inner calm and balance.

Healing from Past Trauma

For individuals who have experienced trauma, whether in childhood or later in life, Parts Work Therapy provides a structured and supportive environment for addressing and healing from these traumatic events. It can be a vital part of the recovery process for trauma survivors.

Enhanced Self-Compassion

Parts Work Therapy fosters self-compassion by encouraging individuals to treat themselves with kindness and understanding. It guides you to recognize the needs and vulnerabilities of different parts within yourself, cultivating compassion for your struggles and challenges.

The Timetable of Parts Work Therapy

In Parts Work Therapy, the timeline for experiencing its benefits is as unique as the individual embarking on the journey. The journey's duration varies based on factors such as the complexity of one's internal family system and the nature of the issues addressed. Early insights can provide relief and clarity, but the full benefits often evolve as the therapy progresses. While some individuals may experience significant shifts relatively early, for those addressing deeper traumas, it may require more extended commitment. Ultimately, Parts Work Therapy is a profoundly personal journey, and the timeline aligns with your readiness, willingness to engage with your internal parts, and dedication to self-discovery.

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About the author

Lauren is a member of the content team at MyWellbeing. She originally began her career in Client Services within the field of Advertising Technology. Recently, she transitioned career paths to pursue her passion for helping others. In December 2022, Lauren graduated with a Master’s degree in School Counseling and is primarily focused on working with middle school and high school students.

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