Jenna Riemersma



How does confession play into IFS theory?


Hi everybody, it’s Jenna. I have a great new question to answer for you today. The question is:

How does confession play into IFS theory?

Okay, I love this.

You’ll remember that our parts become burdened as a result of trauma and very often that burdening originally is because we have an exile that becomes burdened with shame.

Usually when we become burdened, it’s not just because we go through a painful experience. It’s because we go through a painful or traumatic experience, and we feel alone in it. This is why two people can go through the same traumatic experience. One will emerge burdened and the other will not. Usually, the distinction between becoming burdened and not becoming burdened was whether or not there was ever anyone there with us, even just one person to provide emotional support through that trauma. Validation, that in and of itself is protective against burdening.

The role of confession and healing is almost the reverse. In other words, once our parts are burdened, the gift of confession is that we allow our burdened part to come transparently and authentically to another human being who will then fully see us and see our shortcomings and the fear of our burden part is that then we will be judged and rejected. That’s the burden that the part carries. The reality is, when we have confession in a safe relationship and we are seen and not judged, not rejected, that is profoundly healing. That act actually helps to remove some of that burden that is “I’m so alone, there’s no one here to help me or to see me.”

Very often, that core belief that I’m all alone and there’s nobody here to help me, is one of the most burdening experiences of trauma. The act of confession in a safe relationship, which is why group is so important when we’re dealing with addiction recovery and healing, is because it allows our parts, especially our Exile parts to be fully seen, fully known and loved, exactly as they are, not as they should be. Because you and I both know we’re never going to be as we should be.

Thanks for submitting this question.