Having studied a range of approaches, I was delighted to discover Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) or Parts Work. It is what I deeply needed myself years ago to build up a loving and trusting relationship with my past experiences and my emotions. I consider it to be the most effective and complete practice, gentle and respectful, yet incredibly transformational. IFS doesn’t try to fix our symptoms, but aims to heal the root cause of our pain. This rebalances our inner world and brings us a better outer world experience.
At first, I had to get used to the idea that our mind is multiple. Yes, that’s right, we all have multiple personalities, called parts. Parts can be voices, thoughts, feelings, or sensations. All parts have positive intentions, but sometimes they are stuck in the past and carry burdens from long ago, and then their behavior has become simply unhelpful. Imagine strolling through your own inner landscape and striking up a conversation with all the parts that you meet. Before you know it, they share information that makes your life make more sense. What a revelation!
READY TO MEET YOUR PARTS?
Watch Dr.Richard Schwartz explain parts and the IFS-model
Most parts are here to protect us, these so-called protectors come in two types:
You have managers who will proactively keep you from getting into trouble. These are usually well-respected by the outside world. Think of your inner perfectionist who makes you excel at things.
And you have firefighters who will do anything to avoid that you feel a certain pain. These firefighters usually don’t have a very good reputation. They are the ones who are responsible for everything we use to sooth ourselves, from comfort food and bubble baths to addictions like shopping, social media, work, alcohol, sex, and drugs. Self-harming behavior and suicidal parts are also firefighters. They can look very scary from a distance, but they too mean well.
When exploring the inner world with curiosity and compassion, you will find a wonderfully complex web of interacting parts, sometimes working together, sometimes polarized, that keep the system in balance. Most parts have in common that they will do anything to prevent a hurt exile (a young part carrying pain and that was put away in the basement) from appearing again and flooding the system.
Think of me as a personal guide that helps you to navigate your inner world. Throughout the IFS process, I offer curious and compassionate guidance, respecting your personal pace, so you can welcome and get to know all that is present in your internal landscape without judgement.
IFS believes that everyone has the capacity to be the compassionate, loving agent to our internal system of parts. It is called Self with a capital S; it cannot be damaged and it is this energy that will heal your system. The real therapist is your own Self Energy, not me.
Instead of going to war with the parts that are afraid to move on, or that are stuck in confusion, we build trust with them and create the safety they need. And, when your parts are ready, healing takes place in three steps: Witnessing what a part wants to share, bringing the part to a safe place, and releasing the burdens it carries. After this process the part will return to its natural state with regained trust in your Self leadership.
IFS is evidence-based and rooted in academic research. It also has a deeply positive view of human nature and provides a bridge to spirituality. When approached with curiosity and compassion, all parts in the inner world reveal their good intentions and become cooperative. Just like humans do in the outer world…
Space to pause and reflect before sessions, or even more importantly, integration time after the sessions largely determine how deep and lasting the transformational process will be. (See also the work of Frank Anderson, MD).
I therefore feel truly blessed that I can offer IFS retreats at Domaine Lescure, where my partner Véronique and I immerse our guests in beauty and nature. Reinforced by forest bathing, the wabi-sabi philosophy, breath work, play outside and endless hours in the hot tub watching the stars, everything we offer is geared towards integrating and rebalancing your system while it is finding it’s way home again: to your Self.
I work out of The Netherlands and France, online and in person, in Dutch, English, and French, mainly in combination with a retreat experience. So, if you are in for a deep-dive, and have the intention (no obligation of course) to experience a retreat at some point, please get in touch.
- IFS Coach-
An entrepreneur at heart and energetic life enthusiast
My current passion is to help people to discover their inner landscape during retreats at Domaine Lescure, the estate I am restoring with my own hands in Southern France. Connection is a key word for me. Connection between people, connecting with our inner parts, and the healing power of reconnecting to nature. And when we connect, we are not separate anymore...
I found my way into inner work early in life, determined to come to terms with adverse childhood experiences. But even outside the therapies I’ve attended, I’ve always been driven to understand the human mind. I directed and wrote theatre productions, and as an entrepreneur of my own IT company, I was always fascinated by the unconscious processes that drive people to do what they do and say what they say, clients and employees alike.
In the years following the sale of my company in 2010, I tried to find new purpose in my life. And after visiting Domaine Lescure, I had a hunch that my and Véronique’s talents in combination with this amazing place could contribute to the world. But I had a hard time formulating this clearly. Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS) has given new words to my desire of encouraging people, including myself, to open their hearts and reconnect. In IFS-speak my purpose is now: to increase Self Energy in the world, preferably by working with people who (will) have impact.
My background in business allows me to bridge practical methods with heart-centered modalities like IFS that help heal emotional pain and empowers you to live an authentic life. I hope my story piques your curiosity to get in touch with me.
Level 1 Practitioner training – Mary Kruger, with the French IFS Association.
Level 2 Practitioner training (Deepening and Expanding) – Osnat Arbel, with Life Architect.
IFS Continuity Program, with IFS Institute.
IFS The Circle, with IFS Institute.
Thomas has also had the privilege to work with IFS founder dr. Richard Schwartz on several occasions at the Esalen Institute in California.
Background and Related Training
Academic studies at Leiden University (NL).
• Masters (Drs.) degree in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science.
• PhD position offered in Psychology, following my thesis “Breath movement and personality traits”.
Certified Forest Therapy Guide, ANFT (Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, USA).
Connected Breathwork coach.