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Janina Fisher's Multi-Conscious Parts Approach

What is the goal of trauma treatment?

Integration is not fusion: it is coherence, collaboration, & connection, or overcoming internal self-alienation {Fisher, page 243}.

How do we get there?

"Before we can integrate two phenomena, we have to differentiate them & 'own' them as separate entities. We can't simply 'act as if' they are connected without noticing their separateness" {Fisher, 242}.

Step One: Identify Presence of Parts

Therefore, the first step is to identify individual parts & begin learning the language of parts.

"Mindful observation evokes activity in the prefrontal cortex, counteracting trauma-related cortical inhibition & inducing a very slight sense of separation from the feeling, thought, or part" {Fisher, 72}.

The best technique I've found I call "noticing personality discrepancies & recording alter observations." I title my journal entries "Alter Observations" & record the various things I notice about my life experience: anything that fluctuates or changes, anything that stands out, anything that feels uncomfortable, anything that doesn't make sense.

Fisher's first suggestion for therapy work is a mindfulness exercise: recording what is happening every hour on the hour leads to helpful discoveries & can actually reduce the extent of dissociative switches.

"The first task in therapy was to challenge their assumptions & ignite their curiousity in two ways: first, by using the 'language of parts', rather than the language of 'I,' &, secondly, by asking them to use mindful observation, instead of their automatic negative interpretations, to 'track' the moment-to-moment signs of their parts' thoughts, feelings, visceral reactions, & movement impulses as they responded to triggers around them with competing survival responses" {Fisher, 72}.

"In most psychotherapy models,... each emotion is treated as an expression of the individual's whole self. In a parts model, however, each distressing or uncomfortable thought, feeling, or body sensation is treated as a part" {Fisher, 71}.

Step Two: Learn about the Brain & Parts

The second step is for the therapist to offer the client neurobiological education regarding the development of parts along with continuing to learn the language of parts.

"In infancy & early childhood, the attachment drive is an even more powerful mobilizer than fight/flight instincts, reflecting the child's need to physically depend on parent figures. In ad...............

"Using the diagram in Figure 4.1, I explain to clients that human brains are designed to be able to split if things get 'too much' or 'too overwhelming.' Because right & left brains are separate structures, it makes intuitive sense to clients that, when they are exposed to trauma, the split between the two hemispheres enables the left brain aspect of self (what Cozolino calls 'the verbal linguistic self') to 'keep on keeping on,' earning it the title of the 'going on with normal life part,' while the right brain mobilizes the 'corporeal & emotional self,' with its more physical survival resources, to prepare for the next threat, thus its name 'the trauma-related part'" Fisher, pages 67-68}.

"As they study the diagram, I can often see a shift in clients' body language or tone of voice indicating to me that the normal life self is noticing the parts instead of blending with them" {Fisher, 87}.

Step Three: Learn & Practice Unblending from Parts

Once parts have been identified & insights about these parts has been provided, the next step is to learn how to effectively unblend from parts. This means that the going on with normal life self must take responsibility for the system & strive to re-engage the brain's prefrontal cortex by unblending from trauma-related parts using Fisher's unblending technique that involves the language of parts.

"The term 'blending'...refers to two confusing phenomena described by trauma clients: the tendency to identify with parts {'I am depressed,' 'I want to die'} & the tendency to become so flooded with their intense feelings & body responses that who 'they' are & who 'I' am become indistinguishable" {Fisher, 81}.

It can be beneficial to identify positive triggers that can facilitate a switch into the going on with normal life self {Fisher, 83}.

A big piece of this process {that is not discussed in depth in her book} is helping the going on with normal life self learn to recognize & trust & love self. {TO BE CONTINUED........}