IFS Coaching (Internal Family Systems) with Matteo Trevisan ( Lab report #31)

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Yannick’s Coaching Lab #31 — Matteo Trevisan

Lab Report by Daniel Lev Shkolnik

Summary


Matteo Trevisan is the Director of Professional Development for the ICF, has trained over
1300 coaches as part of Animas Centre for Coaching and other organizations. He has an
eclectic set of coaching skills and can work in many different modalities. During the Lab,
Matteo felt that Internal Family Systems (IFS) sometimes known as “parts work” was the most
appropriate way to work with his client who presented with procrastination. This resulted in
a deep and powerful session that exhibited the power of IFS.


Key Insights


Coaching Frame, Therapeutic Process


IFS is a therapeutic process, but Matteo used it in a coaching frame. He entered into the
session resourcefully, having studied and worked with IFS on his own and then completing
an accreditation program. He was able to work from a place of expertise and confidence in
the IFS landscape, and kept full control of the process even when difficult material
emerged.


Going Inside


Early in the session, Matteo had his client close their eyes and go inside themselves. This
shifted the client from a “thinking” state to a feeling state. When the client opened her eyes
on several occasions to relay what she was experiencing, Matteo encouraged her to keep
them closed and stay with her inner experience. This allowed the client to delve deep into
the underlying emotions driving her fear and shame around procrastination.


Feeling the Body


To help his client get in touch with the emotion of fear which underlay her procrastination,
he asked her to tune in to how it appears in her body; both where it resides and what it feels
like. This technique brought the client into contact with these feelings so she could work with
it more directly.


Protectors & Exiles


Internal Family Systems defines two major kinds of inner “parts:” protectors and exiles.
Matteo briefly introduced these and how they function. He primarily worked with one of the
client’s protectors: her fear. By facilitating an inner dialogue between the client and this
protector, she was able to recognize the way her procrastination was an attempt to prevent
burnout and illness from overwork.

“How old does this part think you are?”


Matteo said this question sparked his fascination with IFS. He read it in an IFS book
and was perplexed—how could a part of you not know your true age? Yet, when an
IFS practitioner asked him that exact question in a session he was surprised: a
number immediately popped into his head—and it was not his real age. This
demonstrates the way in which our inner parts can—paradoxically—be unaware of
the rest of our being, and may be stuck in old defensive patterns or holding onto
beliefs that no longer serve us today.


Be Kind to Your Parts


Matteo demonstrated the utmost respect for his client’s inner parts, and asked her to do the
same. “Thank this part for…” “Invite this part forward.” “Ask this part if it would be willing to
sit in the audience.” He guided his client to relate to her inner parts with great kindness and
gentleness. This seemed to allow the client’s protective parts (responsible for her fear and
shame) to relax and step aside so that she could arrive to a clear experience of
centeredness where she could achieve insights about the real issues underlying her
procrastination.


The Core


When the client felt that all the parts were respectfully sitting in the “audience” and
observing, she experienced a deep calm. “Everyone has stepped back and I am just here. All
these little “me’s” are all in the background, not in the spotlight.” After the session, Matteo
described this as “the part that’s not a part.” This center is called “the core” in IFS, the Self
with a capital “S”, and Matteo compared it to the calm, clear core of being referred to in
Buddhism. According to IFS theory, when the core is uncovered we feel spontaneously calm,
confident, curios centered, creative, playful, adventurous, and stable. The core needs no
improvement and is perfect as it is.


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