Arts and Parts

The Guest House by Rumi –

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Arts and Parts

In Arts and Parts sessions, I provide participants with 6 reflective sessions on their “parts”, utilising the IFS modality and incorporating Art Therapy techniques to create visual clues for what was discussed, and to teach and practice regulation techniques that the client could take home with them. To understand this work, it is important to firstly understand the basic principles of each modality.

Source: Good Therapy –

Definition of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) Theory —the idea that individuals cannot be fully understood in isolation from their inner family unit (otherwise known as their parts). This evidence-based approach assumes each individual possesses a variety of sub-personalities, or “parts,” and attempts to get to know each of these parts better to achieve healing. Based on this modality, every part has a story to tell, and its ultimate goal is to protect the person from harm, in the only way it knows how.

This modality enables people to get to know their parts at a deeper level, and to face them without judgement, and encourages clients to show understanding and compassion towards their parts, including their darkest parts. This leads to true self-discovery and self-acceptance, which is needed in the healing process.

The IFS model has 5 basic assumptions:

  • The human mind is subdivided into an unknown number of parts.
  • Each person has a Self, and the Self should be the chief agent in coordinating the inner family.
  • Parts are all beneficial to the individual. There is no such thing as a “bad part.” Therapy aims to help parts discover their non-extreme roles by learning more effective ways of coping, rather than using extreme behaviours. 
  • Personal growth and development leads to the development of the internal family. Reorganization, accepting and accommodating for the internal system may lead to rapid changes in the roles of parts. 
  • Adjustments made to the internal system will result in changes to the external system.

Definition of Art Therapy — A form of psychotherapy involving the encouragement of free self-expression through painting, drawing, or modelling, used as a remedial or diagnostic activity. Art Therapy enables people to explore their thoughts and emotions in a non-judgemental way and allows room for the person to express their memories, thoughts, feelings, perceptions in healthy ways. Art Therapy allows for vehement emotions, dysregulated patterns and thoughts to be transferred from the brain and the nerves system onto paper, and provides a vessel for the implicit memories and dysfunctional thoughts to become explicit, known and understood. Art Therapy helps with vertical neuron integration of the brain due to its self-regulation qualities. Moreover, Art Therapy taps into the right side of the brain, which helps with horizontal neuron integration that leads to the repairment of trauma induced rupture in the corpus callosum and improves dissociative tendencies. Also, helps bring imagination to life. Art Therapy links the person’s experience with their 5-sense perception, through colours and shapes, which allows for creation of new trigger points and new neuron pathways in the brain.


In sessions, the concept of “parts” is introduced to clients, using life examples. Art Therapy is used to raise mindful awareness, create linkages between concept and 5-sense perception, and allows for information processing to occur in a guided, regulating way. Breath-work is often utilised as participants are encouraged to focus on their internal world, understand what is happening inside, sit with the bodily sensations that may come up in different contexts, frame them as parts, use imagination to describe the colour and the shape that comes to mind in relation to those parts, and to use paint and paper to bring those images to life. This automatically creates a somatic distance between “Self” and the “Part”, which is in the core of IFS therapy.  

Participants are then encouraged to re-frame these parts as protectors and to view them with curiosity, without judgement. Then remind themselves of different situations where these parts have come to save them in real life. Participants are encouraged to reflect on the power held within these protectors and are encouraged to give these parts other sources of regulation to use, or options to choose from, in order to work together with the part to achieve unity and stability for the whole system. Session 5 of this course is a great example of facing the “Addiction Part” that most participants run away from, or hold negative thoughts around. In this session, participants will bring Addiction to life using shapes and colours that they associate with this part, then reflect on ways it has tried to save them in the past and the power that it holds; and then discuss what other strategies the person’s “Self” could offer the “Addiction Part”, so that this powerful part has other strategies to rely on, rather than having to rely on the same maladaptive patterns of the past. Participants are then encouraged to draw these new techniques (ie: going for walks, breathing, grounding etc) around their “Addiction”, so the “Addiction” is more aware of these other strategies and can choose from these options later on. This promotes a sense of partnership between the “Self” and the Part, and creates visual clues for the information that was shared in the session. Client can always reflect back on this work, by viewing their art at home.

Moreover, clients get the chance to experience an effective regulation technique (doing Art), whilst focusing on their parts and they learn to practice this new technique at home.

Author: Nasim Yazdani

Practice sitting in the Centre

Therapists, more often than not, talk about accessing Core Self Energy with clients, and encourage them to simply “sit”, “observe” or play a “witness” role