Using IFS: My Transformation So Far? HL

Stories of Transformation can trigger strong emotions. Take care of yourself.


  • 16th July 2022 – Session One – circa an hour of loosely rendered IFS session between myself, Helen, and Rick Kahler, who is a Certified Financial Therapist and Certified IFS Practitioner. Video posted on PARTS & SELF website soon.
  • 26th August 2022 – Session Two – was a 90 minute full protocol “IFS Informed Financial Therapy” session between Helen and Rick. Video also posted here soon.
  • 19th September 2022 – I write this article to describe the immediate transformation.
  • 6th October 2022 – I update the ongoing effects, including dissipating impact,  with the words in red.


I’m somewhat floored. As current Editor of PARTS & SELF magazine, where this piece is being published for you to read, I came to the platform already interested in IFS. I think it is fascinating. I have found over the past year of being in touch with it, various little experiences of personal transformation from following a video on YouTube, or just experimenting with talking to my Parts. These have certainly fuelled my fascination.

Something just happened to me. It’s nothing to do with fascination, interest or experimenting.

I have for the job of Editor a diverse range of skills across academic research and teaching, journalism, art and creativity and with most relevance to the intricate puzzle that is editing this magazine, an awareness of philosophical perspectives of various fabulous kinds. I’m also a tough nut when it comes to voice. Voice of an individual is sacred. IFS is an epistemological and ontological situation requiring policing and tough boundary setting, apart from the core focus on healing. So, in respect of the job of Editor, I know what I’m doing, even when others don’t.

But knowledge of therapy professionally wrought I do not have. I don’t know at the expert level about IFS, despite having a good grasp of the basic premises and protocols involved in this approach to an “internal system.”

Actually, nor do I need to pursue such therapeutic expertise. Other people do it so well. I’ll just ask them. So, what is IFS then to me, given what just happened to me? Given what just happened is therapeutic? I can report that, now, for me, IFS is nothing if it is not effective transformation.

I discovered IFS on Instagram after four years of very useful non-IFS therapy. That first therapeutic relationship of my life, in my forties, was a major eye opener. Though I had been doing self-help style therapy my whole life long (largely for reasons of being without the money to afford a therapist?) I had never encountered a therapist’s perspective and it really impressed me. I gained a tremendous boost in well-being from that engagement. IFS came at the end of that period and was a new door of therapy that I chose to walk through – not as a client (I can’t afford it) – because I found it fast. I’d guesstimate 10 times faster in impacts than the therapy I’d previously enjoyed. I was impressed by its speed for sure.

That impression led me here, where I write today (the date of writing this is 19th September) of a recent transformation that I have found as tremendous as it was quick. You could say it was achieved in approximately 2 hours in total and with someone I had met for the first time who I engaged with in the course of this job. You can see videos posted soon here on the site which show what happened in that connection. The first encounter happened on the 19th July 2022, and the second on 26th August 2022.

Those videos used me, for the magazine. Maybe they serve Rick Kahler (with whom I engaged for that work just mentioned), to show what financial therapy can do. Rick’s work is in combining financial therapy with IFS, as he straddles both worlds. He has also been involved in work linking the two together. I was a willing participant in our connection. Did you see my comments above about not being able to afford therapy? I snapped up the chance to get some IFS therapy – and particularly linked to money – because I am really curious about IFS and how it works and I’m also not the greatest with money. (This last sentence about “not the greatest” was written on 19th September 2022).

Red update voice, 6th October- I’d re-identify myself today as having not been the greatest with money. A change of hope and identity has occurred since the sessions with Rick. We return now to the voice of 19th September…

Money was a difficult topic for me before I spoke with Rick – one laden with tensions. One I’d avoid facing or one I sought to ignore. A bit irresponsible perhaps but I have always got by because I am a hard worker, constantly planning the next way to earn. I know how to make enough money to get by, including my master plan if all goes ship-shaped which is to work as a cleaner. Cleaning never goes out of fashion. I have a healthier relationship with cleaning than I do with money, but then, given cleaning is linked to power in terms of its low status and power is linked to money and abuses, you can see that my attitude to money is laden. I find cleaning quite simple. The power and the money part less so. Possibly IFS would call my responses to all those things just mentioned “burdened”? I would call them, frankly, pretty normal and politically sound.

The intention of the session from my perspective was to see what Rick’s IFS style financial therapy could do for me and, by extension, show what it could do for you, the PARTS & SELF reader. I was indeed curious to experience but also to attempt to show you, by experiencing myself.

Reader, it wasn’t about the money after all, although maybe it was. I make no sense of it. Reader, gosh oh golly, I didn’t expect that. “That” is what, you ask? Instant transformation! Alas, although what you are about to read is enthusiastic, read on, because a few months later I find myself less transformed. The affect has somewhat dissolved? I just don’t know. I’m uninterested in selling transformation to you with this article, so I’m keen to paint a balanced picture with these comments about transformation being definitely apparent afterwards, but I remain curious and somewhat confused about its longevity. I’m saying this before I dive into the enthusiasm because I really dislike gushing, and I’m about to gush.

I think talking about money and my attitude to it was the right gateway for me. I think “money scripts,”  as Rick Kahler calls it, were, for me, IFS “keys”? When he and I dealt with money as a key into my psyche something got unlocked. But then, once that happened it wasn’t, and isn’t now, that much about the money. At least not yet, but this really seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. Has it stopped giving or do I just no longer notice the transformation that occurred after the videoed sessions? I’m unsure. I am curious to see how it continues to unfold, because, today (September 19, 2022), it is still early days.

Here’s a list of immediately noticed outcomes (after the August 26th encounter with Rick): I hoovered the cobwebs from the high ceilings angles. After a couple of days I started cleaning everything I saw that had marks or dust! I felt somehow better housed in my body. Although that unfortunately dissipated as an effect, but for a short time I was really so much happier embodied. I almost altogether stopped spending money. This remains an improvement to my attitude. That might be because I’ve suddenly woken up a bit more to the financial mess of “scarcity” I’m in? I am certainly dealing with money issues with increased maturity.

I became more gentle in how I physically moved: slower and more careful and considered. I’d say this hasn’t changed, but now I just don’t notice? I gained confidence in dealing with difficult conversations with men who treated me in a sexist way, which had always been a tough one for me to reconcile. Still better at this. I allow my voice to stand up more.

This is what I notice now, some weeks after the video sessions: I am much more friendly when people are mean or aggressive (because I see that this is them and not personal) so I’m more connected and it seems they appreciate it. IFS would call that being more Self-led. I’m happy to call it that.

I call out people abusing themselves if I can, doing it with confidence and a kindness that they seemingly are able to accept and use for possible self-determined benefit. I am much more in relation with my son and I’m enjoying his company immensely and it’s far more playful between us now, which is exactly what he loves and needs. He clearly appreciates this which really, really makes me happy because I see him flourish under the auspices of this increased connection. I calmly dealt with a family member. She doesn’t upset me like before and she’s been upsetting me for years; I don’t upset her like before and I even found myself surprising myself by saying some incredibly loving things to her, which prior to Rick’s IFS sessions I just could not have said.

The most obvious and stand out effect was that I have become super tidy and clean around the house. That sounds good and it is. Who makes money when they are disorganized? I suspect my system knows something I don’t about how I optimally function as a person of business. My living environment (and the garden is included) is slowly transforming into a really, really clean, tidy version. If I see dirt, I still clean it and really soon, if not right then. That isn’t abating it seems. In IFS terms I’d say that cleaner part mentioned above is having a great time expressing itself.

Honestly this is a bit frightening because it isn’t the old me doing that, to that extent. I now have a ruthless cleaner part. Yet, I’m not complaining my cleaner just got serious. The house feels so nice to be in as I walk around and see where that part has struck. I am ordering the contents of every cupboard in a somewhat minimalist way, folding all fabric items to almost perfection, throwing out useless items. I am, and was already, a Marie Kondo fan who has most of her books and watched a lot of her Netflix series. I was ok before in the tidy and clean department of life. Now, though, all the little areas of emotional blockage that meant the pile of papers to file was just not getting done are released and flowing out the door: the papers are being filed. Not as quick as I’d like…some of the old emotional procrastinations have returned… I see the floor and, by the way, notice the dust there that needs hoovering up. The cupboard of hell is being organised. I am curious to remember (it’s on one of the videos to be posted shortly) that a part vocally chose that job of cleaning and tidying during the session, when it released itself from some protector role.

My update voice can report that as of 6th October that cleaner is still at work but rather frustrated by the need for me to work externally for a wage, rather than clean the house…I’ve got a part on board now saying “patience!”. It’s curious to me how aggressive the personality of the cleaner is such that I need to help it (for feminist reasons I am avoiding calling it her but, honestly, it is female) to deal with its frustration. None of this is a problem but it certainly helps me acknowledge the claim by Dick Schwartz in “No Bad Parts” (2021) – and elsewhere – that Parts have distinct personalities. I could agree with that since I met the cleaning part.

My new line of artistic work requiring the new tools recently bought also was the express wish of another part released itself from a protector role. I had no idea I would end up preparing myself to enter the construction industry as a pargeter though, as an end result of it expressing the wish to make art. See:

The enthusiasm with which I entered that after the session with Rick was palpable and I do await the right weather and opportunity in terms of other commitments. But other Parts have concerns about these plans such as my lack of knowledge of construction issues to do with ripping an exterior wall’s surface away and making a mess of necessary elements of the wall needed to avoid mould etc. Just doubts and a desire to do no harm, plus an awareness that I’ve just stepped into a zone of which I know little without fear – and perhaps a bit of fear would be good? So, the sessions with Rick started new things, but the outcome isn’t simple. Real world, let’s say.

It does happen a lot that I approach things a bit calmer and with a slightly clearer head. I still make mistakes due to Parts fog.

Re the money side, I have genuine plans in place to earn money. I joined an art group and am producing a picture for the forthcoming exhibition that I’m confident might actually sell. Altogether I have a better attitude to money. That I can admit and enjoy this as a statement is telling because before I could not have said that of myself.

Combining IFS with financial therapy has really improved my life. For me it was the good gateway in. Focusing on my part’s money scripts with Rick has not given me an obvious gold pot but it has enabled me to see money as friendly and unscary and as a result my entire life now revolves around a healthier, new relationship to money as both unimportant and part of what I do as a wage earning nearly 50 year old who would like to have a reasonable pension in the future. It’s time to get organised, serious about budgets, clear and calm about the future and my financial needs.

Blown away by how this works. Not sure how this works. I mumbled a bunch of stuff in a mythical way about Parts on those videos and whatever, thinking why not give it a good try, and then afterwards suspected it was a load of gumpf? I must have encountered a taste of what being Self-led is about. I’m pleased about that.

I’m not so pleased the taste has slowly been disappearing somewhat. I’m interested to know how to keep it, how to live in it. I’d like to know more about what the hell happened with the transformations I experienced directly after the sessions you see on the videos (to be posted soon).

Thanks Rick for the ride into Self.

I think however the reflections and retention are now down to me and this, reader, is the part that isn’t gushing in the glow of transformation. There is also a part that has become aware of the luck and fortune of any kind of inner transformation. I feel humbled by what happened, aware that such events and encounters (with specialist therapists who could help one access Self as I did) are rare, and linked too often to socio-economic status or, in my case, circumstance. To transform is a privilege. In a world of haves and have-nots, how do we bring the universal human right [I posit it is a right even if that isn’t officially recognised] to move towards greater ease and joy in oneself, into the lives of all?


Helen E. Lees, PhD, is Editor of PARTS & SELF and based in Italy.

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