International Journal of

Communal and Transgenerational Trauma

Journal of
International Humanistic Psychology Association

Worldview-Informed Healing: The 7 Bs of Indigenous-Inspired IFS (Internal Family Systems)

Abstract

Worldview-informed healing, like culturally-informed treatment, is both a resource and an outcome that is concerned with reducing burdens that are absorbed and carried transgenerationally. The 7 Bs of Indigenous-Inspired IFS (Internal Family Systems) is a mnemonic that arose from the collaborative voices of the recently formed IFS Indigenous Council. The 7 Bs embody the manifestation of a kinship worldview that is embedded within the IFS healing model. The 7 Bs memory aid brings greater understanding about the roots of legacy burdens, especially the legacy burdens of internalized oppression. The 7 Bs add to the IFS lexicon, expanding its potential for the transformation of collective legacy burdens. The highly teachable language of IFS traces some of its origins to Indigenous healing protocols and is adaptable with Indigenous traditions practiced today. The application of the 7 Bs may also expand the potential of IFS for peer-to-peer teaching alongside of IFS training for worldview-informed healing.

Key words:
7 Bs of Indigenous-Inspired IFS; IFS language; IFS mnemonics; kinship worldview; legacy burdens; worldview-informed healing


 

Introduction: Language and worldview-informed healing

Something about getting out of my car and seeing the Cherokee syllabary on buildings and street signs reached into my heart. Something flooded loose in the tears that flashed out before I could even see my way to the sidewalk. Culture was treatment for me right in the street. Treatment for grieving and revitalizing myself. Treatment and healing that back then standing on ᎡᏆᏂ ᎦᏅᏅ (Acquoni Road) I did not even know I needed. Healing involving updates in beliefs. Updates in language. Shifting my consciousness. Reattuning my neurobiology. Inside my open heart that was glittering with tears and a fresh image of a street sign in a language from Ancient Times was a recognizable directional marker that connected my path, the Ancestors’ speaking ways, and those yet to come. Inside of me a knowing formed.

Indigenous languages hold the basis of the worldview of Native Peoples. Understanding the extremely complex mix of relationships between language, worldview, and wellbeing is a dauntingly difficult yet critical undertaking. Stemming influences from outside of Indigenous frameworks that advance Western perspectives and that do not serve Indigenous populations is addressed by seeing history through the worldview in which Native language is grounded. Addressing transgenerational trauma and grief through language and worldview includes perspectives on the interface between past trauma, present-day wellbeing, and a culturally right path forward (Altman, Belt, 2008). Indigenous knowledge keepers respect unique tribal cultures and, increasingly, articulate an Indigenous worldview that transcends tribal boundaries (Wahinkpe Topa, Narvaez, 2022; Stavans, 2023).

Hossein Dezhakam, founder of a large global addiction recovery community originating in Iran defines worldview for the purpose of healing, “Worldview is all about our perception and how we see the outside world and the inside world. It is how we see ourselves, family, friends, colleagues, society, plants, animals, and the whole universe and our place in it (White, 2023).” The healing knowledge in the implicit assumptions of the universal truths of our Ancestors are now and always were for the wellbeing of all of humankind (Smith, 2018).

A truer term to talk about Indigenous worldview might be kinship worldview. Wahinkpe Topa and Narvaez (2022) present a kinship worldview as a weaving of Indigenous precepts. Indigenous thought from many cultures woven together results in a worldview that sustains balance between the spirit and material dimensions through reciprocity between humans and all beings with co-participation in the whole of life with respect for the wellbeing of all (Blume, 2020; King, 2012; Wahinkpe Topa, Narvaez, 2022). Since neither term, Indigenous worldview nor kinship worldview is readily definable, I prefer the term kinship that includes a meaning about sharing to bring Indigenous precepts into greater understanding.

My purpose in this article is to introduce a mnemonic, the 7 Bs of Indigenous-Inspired IFS, that describes resonances between certain precepts within a kinship worldview and the IFS (Internal Family Systems) healing modality. In the words of its founder, Richard C. Schwartz (2013), “IFS is more than a therapeutic technique. It is a conceptual framework and practice for developing love for ourselves and each other”. IFS has spread globally to many cultures in their own languages. Although IFS is popular as a depathologizing, evidence-based therapy modality, perhaps it’s greatest value will prove to be providing a path toward reconciliation of our inner family of relatives or parts of ourselves with each other in our internal worlds and in the corresponding parallel shifts of reconciliation between individuals and communities in the external world.

Unlike IFS, a framework with its own lexicon and boundaried official body of knowledge, there is no official Indigenous or kinship worldview. Nor do all Indigenous individuals find a more traditional kinship worldview a desirable pathway toward healing. Looking at unburdening and reconciliation of differing worldviews is within the scope of IFS as we practice loving respect for our inner and outer relatives.

Specialists in many healing fields realized that it is not sufficient for a healing practitioner to understand their client’s worldview. As practitioners we must also reckon with our own worldview. We IFS practitioners must have understanding of how our own parts interface with our perspectives. Awareness of our own worldview in addition to awareness of our client’s worldview leads to honing the skills necessary to work through worldview differences (Wahinkpe Topa, Narvaez, 2022). Such skills require languaging.

[1] IFS glossary definition of parts:  The term used in Internal Family Systems for a person’s subpersonalities.  Parts are best considered internal people of different ages, talents, and temperments (IFSI website).
[2] IFS glossary definition of unburdening: The painful emotions, traumatic sensations and harsh beliefs of an exiled part are ceremonially released, often using imagery that involves one of the elements (light, earth, air, water, fire) (Anderson, Sweezy, Schwartz, 2017).

Looking up to see for the first time the Cherokee language, an Indigenous language, on a green and white street sign I could feel language as a living gift. This gift plays free of the timeline to connect us with those who came before and those yet to come. To connect us with a language for worldview-informed healing. A language that can be taught and caught heart-to heart, peer-to-peer. Two centuries ago when Sequoya invented the Cherokee syllabary, learning in their own tongue flowed from one Cherokee to another for about a year until everyone was literate. Just like the Cherokee syllabary was taught, caught, and could be seen as a form of “culture is treatment”, I caught a glimpse of a kinship worldview as treatment.

The IFS Indigenous Elders Council

Two hundred years after the invention of what many believe to be the first Native American written language, the Cherokee syllabary that culturally strengthened the Cherokee People, the newly created IFS Indigenous Elders Council took its first steps, its members reaching into the heart of the council to find a way to offer easy-to-learn language that imparts consciousness of an Indigenous-informed worldview.

A strength of IFS is a protocol for working with legacy burdens. IFS is not a rootless modern method of healing. It draws from our Indigenous Ancestors much of its inner ceremony and language for how transformational ceremony can regulate body systems, usher in calming coherence to the mind, and allow the spirit its rightful place in relationship. The model is adaptable with many traditions and ways of working when legacy burdens show up.

Legacy burdens are handed down through generations. These wounds are the transgenerational impacts from traumas that originated and were absorbed into the systems of those who went before. Legacy burdens are usually absorbed from family or culture. IFS is evidence-based, yet, its depathologizing framework for wellbeing is also a natural practice that deserves the attention of an Indigenous council that is rooted in traditional practices of the Old Ones.

The term Self as understood in the IFS model is akin to the aboriginal positive sense of center or spirit (McVicker, Pourier, 2021). Not to be confused with negative Western connotations of selfishness or egoism, a grasp of the Self as a healing resource is central to our work. In IFS literature, Self is capitalized to distinguish it from more mundane uses of the word. IFS is a paradigm shift from much of psychotherapy and mainstream treatment models (Sykes, Sweezy, Schwartz, 2023). When we connect with our Self we have the inherent wisdom of knowing that everyone has a Self. Everyone can relate Self-to-Self, center-to-center, heart-to-heart. As individual sovereign beings with Self-in-relationship with other individual sovereign beings we begin as a collective to shift external communities with the healing qualities embodied in us (McVicker, Walker, 2020).

Parts work or healing ways that include what IFS considers to be innate to humans–an internal system of parts that is best led by an undamageable, unfinalizable Self that possesses its own wisdom with no need to develop itself–is a map for wellbeing (Schwartz, 2021). Learning to care for our kinship collectives as well as our inner relatives (parts) from our own Self is an evolving paradigm that Indigenous Peoples by and large held onto and Westerners are reconceptualizing (Gergen, Gergen, 2000). From early in its unfolding the founder of the IFS model assumed that the mind is more like the Ancient Ones perceived it, an inner world populated with inner relatives and spirits who recognize that we share an interconnected and interdependent system with all of life:

…it is becoming increasingly clear that the idea of the mind as unitary is a relatively recent invention of “civilized” society. Indigenous cultures throughout the world were familiar and comfortable not only with a spirit world, but also with an inner realm inhabited by many different voices and characters. It may be that the idea of the normal
mind as multiple is less a radical departure from established knowledge than it is returning to an age-old wisdom from which “established knowledge” radically departed. (Schwartz, 2001, p. 85)

The work of our council is to share back with Indigenous Peoples their concepts and tools that permeate IFS along with the IFS model’s clinical basics as developed by an American psychologist. The council promotes both peer-to-peer teaching and clinical training in an atmosphere of respect and appreciation for each way of healing practice.

Around the council circle sit Indigenous individuals who grew up with their people. Some endured the boarding school system. Some are Indigenous descendants. Some are of Indigenous lineage who grew up outside of tribal communities. Heritages of members trace to Africa, Alaska, Mesoamerica, and North America. Some of the members of the several tribes represented are IFS practitioners. Others are learning the IFS model in IFS trainings offered by the official organization of IFS, IFSI or the Internal Family Systems Institute located at https://ifs-institute.com/

The Indigenous Elder IFS Council house has been the computer screen with each seat a video rectangle of online technology since May 2021 in the time of pandemic. From Zoom offices, living rooms, and outdoor spaces we agree to learn from each other as we bring IFS-based programs and services to Indigenous communities. To honor Indigenous practices, values, and sacred ways. To follow the IFS model as we extend it in new ways to reach people who live outside of mainstream healthcare systems geographically or culturally. As younger members were included the term Elder was dropped from the name of the council

Online together from Canada, the U.S. including Alaska, and Mexico we inquired inside our heartminds for words and phrases that spoke clearly to the global IFS community about how worldview itself is healing. How could council members introduce ourselves as IFS practitioners who carry a different worldview along with the American conceptual underpinnings in which IFS was conceived and developed? We needed a bridge, a language, a way to talk about how our worldview is different yet resonant with the IFS model as commonly understood. The IFS Indigenous Council needed a way to express that we are the bridge to “….an age-old wisdom from which “established knowledge” radically departed (Schwartz, 2001, p. 85)”.

The 7 Bs of Indigenous-Inspired IFS

In one of our online council house meetings, I drew a seven-pointed star on screen share and proposed we use it as our bridge. Our bridge would be a mnemonic. Seven is a sacred number in many tribal traditions. Synchronicity around the number seven stoked creativity.

Playfully council members pulled out the 7 Bs of Indigenous-Inspired IFS from some prompts. The synchronous gap in a number sequence called for a mnemonic with the number 7. The IFS global community already had the 8 Cs, the 6 Fs, and the 5 Ps. Those IFS memory aid numbers and letters have been a google away for years. The 8 Cs describe qualities of the Self with words all beginning with C, compassion, calm, clarity, curiosity, creativity, confidence, connection, and courage. The 6 Fs are about creating safety between the Self and a part while getting to know that part; Find, beFriend, understand Feelings of a part, and so on. The 5 Ps, particularly for IFS practitioners, are presence, perspective, persistence, patience, and playfulness.

We began to ponder the seven-pointed star in light of the gap. I explained to council members that 7 words would help people to understand our worldview–to get clarity–about who we are if we had some key words like the Cs or Ps or Fs. At first words beginning with haphazard letters of the alphabet were suggested. Like coalescing particles of cosmic dust, words and phrases began to illuminate our collective worldview. Some phrases spun off as not quite right. I remember with a smile who rang out Belly Laugh. Big helpless laughter energy exponentially united our efforts as we all doubled up in mirth. I could almost see hands wave that funny one off into space as more words quickly flowed in brisk brainstorming.

A pause. We saw the Bs arrange themselves at the tips of the star. Accomodations were made for the one that was wordier, the Right to Be, Belong, and Become, and the ones where the B is on a second syllable, as in HumBle, EmBodied Learning, and Ceremonial UnBurdening. Blessing was easy. So was Balance. But something was missing. Another pause. I don’t remember who wondered aloud if we should bring Belly Laugh back in. A little clump of courageous star dust was needed to convince ourselves that gut-jiggling laughter formed an everyday aspect of connectedness all around Indian Country. Robust laughing together is a best medicine for thriving in the cruel cascades of historical trauma. The 7 Bs star was born amidst laughter.

Let’s begin in the North for a circle trip around the points of the star to illuminate some of the depth of our common understanding about the 7 Bs.

Figure 1
The 7 Bs of Indigenous-Inspired IFS

Blessing

Life is infused with prayer and a sense of blessing in a seamless connection between physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions. In Indigenous lifeways a separation between physical and spiritual dimensions is nonexistant. To live permeated with a sense of blessing means that we cultivate compassion and wisdom in the face of profound social injustice, to sustain generosity in balance with an understanding of boundaries and seasons and cycles of complex and adaptive systems, both natural and human-propelled.

To embody a sense of blessing is to feel the sacredness of all states and situations. Flowing blessings on with dignity and respect maintains a state that keeps the sweetness of life fresh. Affirmation of connection and abundance needs no proof of how powerful or how resourced we are in social relationships. The gifts that we give and receive in each moment are valued with awe as part of creation. Quite naturally, when those carrying IFS knowledge meet Indigenous knowledge keepers, gifts will be shared back and forth.

Right to Be, Belong, Become

Trauma in the generations that went before us often resulted when one group tried to deny the right of another group to exist. For Indigenous Peoples to transform from the impacts of attempted genocide that involve multiple generations a need to actively affirm the right to be is necessary for the parts that inherited internalized oppression as a survival strategy (d’Errico, 2011). As the United Nations set a collective precedent affirming the right to belong, we look through the lens of belonging to imagine what healing connections are possible between individuals, communities, and nations. When qualities and energy of Self are restored by unburdening the inner systems of individuals and communities, we imagine along with the parts in a transformational state what qualities of Self might be invited to return after long being frozen, covered up, hidden by transgenerational trauma (Sullivan, McVicker, Paisley, Patton, 2023).

HumBle

IFS is also known as the Self-Leadership model. The goal of an IFS practice is to embody the Self and to heal our parts that have been wounded and are still in pain. As this healing–this balancing and harmonizing our internal systems–takes place the natural outcome is that our whole inner world of parts is imbued with more of the innate qualities and wisdom and love that is the Self.

Humbleness results from knowing our own inner relatives’ history and stories. This includes knowledge of our inner oppressor parts. When we absorb the burdens of those who oppress us, we learn how to oppress others–including other parts in our inner world. We often learn to hate those parts inside of ourselves and attempt to cover up or even destroy our own unwanted parts. The internal and external worlds are naturally connected and shift in parallels with each other. As we come to know and feel compassion for our own inner oppressor we understand the motivations of parts of ourselves that we don’t feel proud of. We learn how to care for and to heal those places in us that would strike back, that would denigrate, that would eradicate (Schwartz, 2021).

The realization that we all have inner enemy parts in our own systems that would oppress other parts invites humbleness. With practice we become able to care for our inner oppressor parts and restore them into a safer inner world where they can bring their newly acquired Self qualities like curiosity, calm, and compassion to other inner relatives who they formerly terrorized. Our worldview updates as we find our authentic place in various circles in our communities.

Belly Laugh

“Laughter is about making and maintaining social bonds.” (Scott, 2018). Had the IFS Indigenous Council not tossed the Belly Laugh B back into the star dust of our brainstorm and almost lost it, perhaps we might not treasure it so greatly. We brought it securely back into the 7 Bs after we let it go, recognizing that the helplessly unrefined temporary incapacitation of our gut-shaking laughter had just deepened our connections. We couldn’t wear certain social masks for this spirited laughter that goes beyond humor. Belly laughing together, we realized, is a universal experience throughout Indian Country. Neuroscientists describe belly laughing as a valuable skill that shows how we understand each other and know each other–possibly even love each other. We don’t laugh with people we feel uncomfortable or unsafe with. The same behavior could be agressive if our intention was not to get along (Scott, 2018). Belly laughing is an ancient de-stressor skill that is highly valued in Indian Country.

Embodied Learning

“Including the body story along with the verbal story in therapy illuminates and awakens what has been obscured in darkness (McConnell, 2020, p. 1)”. Beautifully relating embodiment to the element of Fire, Susan McConnell’s voice is clear as if we are physically sitting in circle together again, “Fire is associated with energy, growth, and transformation. With mindful attention, the warmth of movement thaws the frozen tundra of trauma: what begins as a sensation is transformed by the energy of movement to a body story of the internal system. The body story might be frozen in tense or collapsed tissues, awaiting the warming thaw of Enbodied Self energy to ignite the telling of the body story through voluntary and involuntary movement. The movement might be a small gentle flame or a large expressive story of the body (McConnell, 2020, p. 51)”.

We learn to walk our talk and embody the compassion that is the heartfire practice in every IFS session or meditation or going inside or sitting in witness. Compassionate witness is the core medicine necessary for the safety and trust that leads to the flame in our body learning that can light the way into our world.

Balance

Conflict is a part of life. Polarizations and factions are perrenial realities in our inner systems of parts as well as in the world. The Self is endowed with wisdom to acknowledge conflicts and as is stated in the IFS Glossary “best equipped to lead the internal family”. As we embody the Self and get to know our parts, our parts’ stories and histories, their needs and desires, Self-leadership in the inner world system emerges. Another IFS glossary term, Self-leadership, is defined as “leadership characterized by compassion, calmness, clarity, curiostiy, confidence, courage, creativity, and connectedness (IFSI website)”. Balance in the 7 Bs overlaps with the term balance in the IFS glossary: “A state in which members of a human system have equitable access to the responsibilities, resources, and influence they need (IFSI website)”.

Balance and harmony are associated with a kinship worldview. When our Ancestors lived intimately with the land every day and night and knew themselves as part of the land, they evolved into the first systems thinkers in order to thrive in harmony and balance with the land. Harmony in the IFS glossary reads, “A state in which members of a human system relate collaboratively, with effective communication, mutual caring, and a sense of connection (IFSI website)”. Implicit in that state of harmony in Indigenous-informed worldview is collaboration, communication, caring, and connection with all beings.

Another IFS glossary term is resonant with the 7 Bs, that of constraining environment. Indigenous Peoples have long been burdened by “a human system’s environment that is characterized by imbalance, polarization, enmeshment, and problematic leadership. Constraining environments impose burdens on the systems within them (IFSI website)”. Indeed, problematic leadership, in IFS glossary definition, “a state in which leaders have abdicated, are biased, are polarized with each other, or have been discredited (IFSI website; Schwartz, 1995)” has become the type of leadership that has been the origin of extreme burdening of Indigenous Peoples. Problematic leadership goes hand in hand with problematic worldview.

Balance in all dimensions has become critical to the revitalization of every being who shares our planet.

Ceremony As UnBurdening

While all types of burdens may be transformed by unburdening ceremony, legacy burdens and IFS unburdening protocol deserve a special word. Legacy burdens can organize our inner system of parts in forcefully influential ways. Internalized oppression can mudslide down generations to pollute our thinking and dangerously dictate our decisions. The violent acts and hatred that our Ancestors endured during colonization, enslavement, and forced migration from land theft and land mutilation are absorbed as individual and collective burdens. Collective legacy burdens keep the wounds open in every family and individual in the greater aggregate. Indigenous ceremony exists to remind us that even in the face of such forceful burdens life is sacred, that we and all beings are sacred, and to carry ourselves in sacred ways.

Epigenitic studies that demonstrate the impacts of genetically-inherited burdens are now accepted into mainstream education. Traumatization of one or both parents can result in open transgenerational wounds that manifest as genetic modification, behavioral and neural adaptive patterns (Dias, Ressler, 2014; Yehuda, 2022). Spirit memory, an Indigenous traditional concept, is another way that familial and community burdens are transmitted across generations (Eshowsky, 2003; Garrett, 2001).

Ceremony as unburdening is effective with any origin point of burden absorption including the present lifetime or upstream from those who went before. The internal ceremony of a part that trusts the Self enough to show and tell about the painful experiences that it–or its Ancestors–have been through certainly can be replicated in the external world. Conversely, our inner parts, our inner relatives, can know spontaneous unburdening by participating in a ceremony in the outside world. Ceremony that is permeated with Self energy has potential as an empowerment greater than the legacy burdens where outmoded beliefs such as I am worthless; I deserve to be a throwaway: I am unloveable, and related behavioral patterns and physical manifestations may be released. New beliefs that allow mental relief, behavioral improvement, and bodily comfort can then be adopted and over time shift one’s worldview.

Ceremony that affirms the sacredness of life is a regular practice for reminding ourselves and our communities that the releasing of burdens and the invitations for more Self qualities are possible and necessary for growth and wellbeing. Many practitioners in the IFS community are articulate about their scientific beliefs that synaptic change reorganizes the neural network and heals the core of the impacts of trauma during the IFS unburdening process (Anderson, Sweezy, & Schwartz, 2017).

The 7 Bs Everyday Application

A woman in a weekly IFS online circle of support where the 8 Cs and 7 Bs are used to guide the conversation asked how the 7 Bs are useful in daily living.

As an IFS memory aid the 7 Bs help remember whole concepts in the moment. A word or phrase becomes a lens of possibility for how I might be seeing my inner world or something going on in the outer world. The mnemonic can be a reminder of how I want to be in the world. For example, how I want to Be, Belong, and Become–that I have that right and so do all beings.

The question about application of the 7 Bs reminded me of the proclamation of poet Gloria Anzaldua, “I am my language” (Arias, 2022). I become the 7 Bs in emBodied Learning as the language soaks in bone deep–embeds in my subconscious, my physcial movement, my worldview. I don’t call up the whole seven-pointed star each time that I notice how one of the Bs–let’s say the one about humbleness–might apply to my own part’s awareness–or when I am holding space for someone else to be in conscious connection with their inner system of parts.

Language, identity, and awareness of worldview are braided together in my perceptions of how I see the outside world and the inside world, how I see myself, all of creation, and my place in it. When parts of any of us are frozen or locked into the impacts of trauma big chunks of languaging abilities are not available for our use. Through ceremonial unburdening or systemic unburdening in IFS we activate improved neural functioning. Our capacity for neuroplasticity is related to storytelling and languaging. When I can use the 7 Bs to help track any new-found ability to put insights into words I am aware of progress in making consciously desired changes in my worldview (van der Kolk, 2014; Waziyatawin, Yellowbird, 2012).

The basis of Cherokee worldview like the basis of other Indigenous Peoples’ worldviews is expressed through language. Behavior is linked with language in the complex relationships between worldview, behavior, and language (Altman, Belt, 2008). If language is at the heart of how we do ourselves in the world and how others see us and I can envision myself through the lens of the 7 Bs, then I am embodying learning about choosing my worldview. I am able to shift into more of the values and precepts that represent kinship worldview. Worldview in this sense is like the medicine way. Be there for the medicine and the medicine will be there for you. Be there for choosing a healing worldview and healing worldview will be there for you. The more I consciously live in the word bridge of the 7 Bs, the more the 7 Bs will shape my lifeways. They are a beginning expression that the IFS Indigenous Council members see as evolving through community input.

Our Vision for the 7 Bs

After the council took its first steps to introduce our work and the 7 Bs now begin to travel into the IFS community, our vision guides us in outreach that is more cost effective in reaching whole communities than clinical sessions alone using the IFS model. The question about how to use the 7 Bs is another way of asking about the vision and outcomes of introducing the 7 Bs to IFS practitioners and sharing IFS peer-to-peer.

If outcomes are viewed in light of what is sometimes known as a mass movement of the spread of IFS in recent years, then there is reason to expect that the inclusion of the 7 Bs with IFS basic knowledge will also advance the model. A certain sense of safety may be felt if a familiar worldview is recognized to be embedded in IFS practice. The recognition of kinship worldview as resonant with IFS through dual teaching methods, official clinical training and peer-to-peer sharing, lends hope despite the immensity of challenges in recovering from transgenerational trauma.

IFS practitioners treat the internal system in a culturally and worldview-informed framework. Caution from IFS trainers (Anderson, Sweezy, Schwartz, 2017) about practicing IFS peer-to-peer is good balance for visions of moving forward in this type of community sharing. We pay attention to what goes well with the teaching and sharing: How does knowledge of the 7 B’s relate with IFS healing outcome? Is the compassionate witness offered in IFS peer-to-peer practice where skill level may or may not be as deep as clinical IFS training a healing answer to ancestral and historical trauma? How do we evaluate safety or efficacy in peer-to-peer IFS practice?

IFS is an embodied learning practice, not a book-learned or head level only approach. Peer-to-peer teaching has made some promising beginnings in China and other non-Western populations and has appeal in cultures where people are more comfortable with family and friends for finding help instead of seeking professional assistance (McVicker, Pourier, 2021). More fertile ground for the spread of IFS may be made possible by a mnemonic that links a kinship worldview with the skill building for healing legacy burdens that is already demonstrated to be possible with IFS.

The 7 Bs in action

The 7 Bs travel to IFS project destinations with council members. We have joined tribal practitioners on reservations, worked with cultural practitioners on reserves, helped out with teaching IFS in Indian Country online, given IFS presentations at international and regional conferences, and have plans underway for more adventures to tribal landing places virtually and in person. A powerpoint slide of the seven-pointed star memory aid is one of the first items packed to take to a project. The mnemonic star diagram is also making its way in publications written by council members.

We immersed ourselves in social designing for human impact with the Stanford University d.school (design thinking). Council members rolled up our sleeves in an intense program with d.school coaches to create a prototype and test an IFS project for impact. Our design process showed how cell phone technology could connect people in Indian Country with IFS services. We are currently stepping up to the challenge of finding the appropriate technical work force to cast our experimental model into reality.

The longest running council project where the 7 Bs are used weekly for an hour of online IFS peer support is called an 8C Meeting. Plans are unfolding to open a new Spanish speaking meeting in addition to the original meeting in English. The 8C Meeting format is designed to be replicated to fit a local in-person population or an online gathering anywhere in the world. Feedback about transparent connection and shared learning boosts IFS integration in daily living. Information may be requested at 8Cmeeting@gmail.com

Conclusion

Root wisdom and traditional healing knowledge embedded in a kinship worldview are transmitted across time in language. Healing knowledge was and still is meant by the Old Ones to be shared with all. Language from a different worldview does not always translate directly. Yet we can catch new meanings, new worldview perspectives as we study the differences and overlaps.

As we look together, we can see the signs in front of us, like the sign for ᎡᏆᏂ ᎦᏅᏅ. I found a helper who knew that ᎡᏆᏂ means beside, by, or near the river. I had been near the river when the language of the Old Ones reached into my heart.

I feel confident that with helpers, shared knowledge, and wisdom we can follow the flow of kinship worldview and know that it was and is today a river of knowledge meant for the wellbeing of all. Our mnemonic image is like a sign–a little bit of language that conveys a great deal about a worldview. The IFS 7 Bs star was created to bridge worldviews by a council with a combined heritage of embodied learning in several unique kinship traditions. The light of this star reflects on both banks and on the water of the river of knowledge.


 

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