This month we’re highlighting Therapeutic Alliance partner PATH – PATH to Addiction and Trauma Healing.
When it comes to trauma, there are many different paths to healing. The PATH to Addiction and Trauma Healing is a grassroots organization helping people to find inner peace through Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy. It’s a non-profit organization that was started by Nadine Lucas in 2021. PATH currently operates exclusively online, and uses a unique insight-based program they developed themselves.
Originally started as a self-help group for therapists, PATH quickly evolved into a support group to help any member improve their understanding of healing addictions and trauma from an IFS perspective.
Understanding IFS Therapy
IFS therapy is a system developed by Dr. Richard C. Schwartz that takes the view that our minds contain different subpersonalities, each of which has its own views and needs. Its core belief is that we all have a core Self, that is compassionate, calm, and connected.
Through exposure to traumatic events and experiences, our other parts try to protect this true Self from harm. Although these parts intentions are good, they can become maladaptive and dysfunctional. Through accessing the core Self and understanding our different parts, we can begin to heal them.
How Does PATH Work?
The PATH program has eight Insights that guide members on their journey of recovery utilizing the IFS model. They do not currently teach people the basics of IFS, but can signpost people towards learning materials and do not restrict membership based on therapeutic knowledge.
Anyone who wishes to improve their understanding of recovery through IFS is welcome – groups run on New York time and include members from all over the world. People self-guide throughout this process, and give back and share advice as they move through the Insights.
PATH focuses on a harm-reduction principle, in which each member is invited to explore whether or not their current behaviors benefit them or harm them. They acknowledge that many people hold shame-based emotions or multi-generational shame, and so know the strength of a non-dogmatic and inclusive approach. All participants and all of their parts are welcome.
The Insights as they currently read are listed below:
Insight 1: I Am Self – The leader of my internal system whose presence is a compassionate and healing witness.
Insight 2: I Have Parts – I am open to the idea that they have differing needs.
Insight 3: We Live in a Body – A form through which I respectfully seek awareness and connection.
Insight 4: All Parts Are Welcome – I accept that they hold a positive intent
Insight 5: I am more than my behaviors – I am willing to examine their motives with an open heart
Insight 6: I Notice When Parts Become Activated – I am Self-led and willing to speak for my parts
Insight 7: I Am Healing My Burdens – Which allows my parts to express their inherent gifts.
Insight 8: I Take Care of My System – I am continually present as a source of strength for my parts.
The Journey to PATH: How It Started
“I have a history of disordered eating and attended community-based support groups on and off for over 30 years. I found the program and support helpful. I wasn’t alone anymore! I developed a loving relationship and trust with my sponsor. She validated my experiences and loved me unconditionally.
Recently, in my 50s I discovered IFS. It has changed my life! It is a completely different paradigm than other popular programs, one that resonated with me on a profound level. I fell in love with IFS… and found that it provided a roadmap for true healing from the trauma underlying my addiction. Trauma is at the root of addiction and in IFS, Self-compassion is at the root of healing. Compassion, which is love, heals inner conflict and suffering. This is done by befriending all aspects of ourselves and developing an internal relationship of self-love.
The IFS language and paradigm is unique. I found myself longing to share my IFS experience of healing with others utilizing the model. But there were no IFS support programs for folks like me in recovery from addictions and trauma. Then one day I had an epiphany. Why not create support groups based on IFS language and principles!? I decided that I could offer these groups for folks on the path to recovery to share their IFS experiences between therapy sessions. Hence, the early stages of PATH were born. Over time I have invited folks to help me develop the program. Together we created the Insights based on the IFS paradigm/principles. Current Board members include David Kerwin and Laura Lively.”- Nadine Lucas, CAGS, LMHC, RPT, PATH Founder
As David Kerwin, who is on the board and has been part of the PATH leadership team since its inception says, “A lot of people are afflicted with what the Buddhist tradition calls monkey brain. This is where so many thoughts race around our mind that we have trouble resolving what our mind is attempting to message us.
IFS brings a simple solution to this challenge for people suffering from addiction and trauma, through the definition of Self, and the parts of our mind that were developed through our life journeys. By practicing IFS there is a settling of our minds and a welcoming of our parts by Self to the many parts. Through this evolving relationship, facilitated by PATH, the person is better able to use the Insights and get their lives back by having a place to be open, honest and vulnerable. This welcoming community helps us to live the lives we have been longing for.”
“I am so grateful for the PATH meetings. I asked the Universe for help in finding a safe and supportive group for trauma healing.The idea came to me to reach out to a friend who knows IFS and this program was suggested. My needs for connection, support and belonging are being met, yayy! The readings and prompt questions are heart opening. I feel safe to be vulnerable. Thank you PATH community!” Katy Seo – Toronto, Canada*
“PATH offers a beautifully supportive, non-judgemental space for people healing from trauma and addictive behavioral patterns. What a gift to the recovery community!” – Jenna Riemersma, #1 best-selling author, founder/clinical director for the Atlanta Center for Relational Healing, trauma and addiction specialist, Certified IFS Clinical Consultant, and CSAT/CMAT Supervisor.
Mutual Aid at PATH
PATH is committed to helping people heal, and their mutual-aid model isn’t mutually exclusive with other popular forms of group-based healing. Many of their members find their process to enrich their other therapeutic endeavors. They are a non-profit organization, and currently self-fund their groups. PATH are currently working with TRF to expand their peer support capabilities.
An Invitation from PATH Founder, Nadine Lucas:
- Developing the PATH Program is a dynamic work in progress. Please contact me if you wish to get involved, as we are always looking for IFS-informed therapists, coaches, counselors and practitioners to help facilitate meetings.