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Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide To Your Inner Life is a fascinating book that illustrates the work done in Internal Family Systems Therapy. The Parts Model combines the IFS Model of therapy with the teachings of a Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. Tom Holmes, with Lauri Holmes integrate a client’s ideal of spirituality into psychotherapy using the Parts Work Model. Sharon Eckstein, MFA illustrates this model with illustrations that are eye-catching and entertaining. The book can be read easily by professionals and clients.

Tom and Lauri Holmes write that we all have different parts that exist within us that are shifting states of mind. Each part can contain a set of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that occur often in a pattern. These parts can be less defined or more defined in an individual. When trauma occurs, it tends to develop more strongly defined parts. Tom also states that a state of mind called “Self ” exists in an individual. A skilled therapist trained in the Parts Work Model can teach the ” Self  to take charge of the energy of these different mind sets within an individual so that a more balanced and effective life can be achieved. This is the goal of Parts Work.

Tom believes that severe trauma can cause certain parts to split off from consciousness and out of awareness of other parts and act independently, therefore creating an imbalance in how the individual functions in life. The goal of Parts Work, according to Tom Holmes, Ph.D is to get the ” Self” to help all the parts get to know each other, understand each other, and work together for the common good. The ” Self ” comes to the Center and acts as a conductor, bringing out the best in each of the parts to bring harmony and balance to the individual’s psychological system. Through understanding, integrating, and accepting all parts, harmony can occur. The “Self ” is able to transform the system. The “Self” becomes centered within. Some call it ” Wise Mind ” or “Mindfulness.”

The “Self ”  observes the different parts, works on the parts to accept each other, organizes the system, and creates a positive environment where negotiation, compromises, and goals can be worked out so the psychological system operates at maximum effectiveness over time. Sharon Eckstein illustrates the mind as a circle. The top part is consciousness and the bottom half is the unconscious where all the parts hang out. The top part of the circle is like a living room where hopefully the “Self” sits. Any part can show up spontaneously or the “Self” can invite any part that wants or needs to come to the living room to talk or even listen. That’s where Internal Family Systems Therapy is done with who ever is present.

This book is well worth the read. The pictures do a good job of showing how the Parts Work Model  is done.



Holmes,Ph.D,Tom; Holmes,MSW, Lauri;  and  Eckstein, MFA, Sharon. 2007.  Parts Work : An Illustrated Guide To Your Inner Life. Highpointe Dr. Kalamazoo, MI 49008. Winged Heart Press.                  .