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Embrace Your Self-Destructive Impulses? How People Can Connect with Dark Parts of Their Psyche for Personal Change

As people relate to their disturbing inner experiences, they can become more accepting of the aspects of themselves with which they’ve been struggling.

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Working in this way can be an intense and challenging task, which regularly requires me to step out of my emotional comfort zone and experience “parts” in myself and my clients that I might otherwise wish to avoid. At the same time, on my best days, I feel blessed to be able to accompany clients on inner journeys into both the terror and wonder of what it means to be fully human. At those moments, I can’t imagine a more mindful way to practice the therapist’s craft.


Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Self Leadership and the originator of the Internal Family Systems Model. His books include Internal Family Systems Therapy and, most recently, You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For. Tell us what you think about this article by e-mail at, or at Log in and you’ll find the comment section on every page of the online Magazine section.

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