ISRS Seminar: Helen Lees: Lonely as a crowd: solitude in schools and the inner family (with reference to Internal Family Systems)

Participants from the UK, Poland, Italy, Australia, Israel and South Africa attended the fourth ISRS (International Society for Research on Solitude) online Seminar on the 28th October 2021, where Dr Helen Lees presented the theme “Lonely as a crowd: solitude in schools and the inner family (with reference to Internal Family Systems)”.

Dr Helen E Lees is an independent scholar, specialising in ways for people to achieve inner peaceful selfhood via the realisations inherent in educating oneself. She lives and works near Florence, Italy as a writer and educator.

According to Dr Lees, who has been exploring various therapeutic frameworks centered round the notions of trauma and self-care through silence, Internal Family Systems resolve crisis points but also flip the idea of solitude.

Richard Schwartz developed an Internal Family Systems model.  We are created of many parts (which aren’t multiple personalities as a ‘disorder’); none of them are bad, but some of them may be doing bad things. Part of us becomes exiled as an ‘inner child’, who got frozen because of trauma. The exiles have protectors called ‘managers’ and ‘firefighter’ whose role is protect the vulnerable and wounded inner child.

The therapeutic work is to establish a relationship with the inner child but also realise these parts are not us; seeking for a true Self is the task here, possibly in solitude.  Paradoxically, a person in solitude is not alone as they are with their internal family. Silence is used in a therapeutic manner: we face many voices/elements of ourselves and undertake a dialogue with them in a caring and compassionate way. The aim is to gain harmony within our own internal family, and, as a result, peace in solitude, peace with others and real Self-leadership.

The presentation was followed by a vivid discussion. Dr Lees was asked about the identity of the ‘real self’, links between IFS and Gestalt theory, and cultural specificities that may limit IFS.

We encourage you to look at the recording, published below.


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