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A Curricuulum for educators, teachers and those working with students

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Internal Family Systems is a way of connecting with young people and understanding their intentions, making sense of their experiences and needs.

IFS normalizes that we all have "Parts". Part of us can get angry, part of us can feel worrried about something. Parts naturally sometimes become polarized. eg: Part of me wants to go out with friends, Part of me wants to stay home and watch a movie. When it comes to relationships and learning: experiences of distrust, fear of failure, insecurities, neurodiversity, etc... can cause Parts to take on extreme roles to protect the person. This shows up as behaviours (aggression, shut down, withdrawl, controlling/bossy, etc..)  Acknowleging the Parts intentions and needs and helping the child externalize it, helps them learn to regulate and builds new neuropathways of trust with you.


To do that, sometimes we have to get regulated ourselves first, listen to our own Parts

P.A.U.S.E is similar to PACE in that we are suporting ourselves

in being regulated, so we can figure out TOGETHER what the Parts need or want, and

what to do next about an experience or situation

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Sian Phillips: Working with Relational Trauma in Schools

Belonging: a relationship based approach for trauma informed education

Although most educators understand the importance of relationships, they are less confident about how to create connections with students who can’t trust their intentions. DDP provides the “how” in creating relationships with students who don’t trust us.

This PACE infographic illustrates how students come to school with a backpack heavy with shame. They mis-read and mis-trust a teacher’s intentions and motivations often responding with aggression, avoidance or rejection. This makes it hard for a teacher to feel safe and persist in providing the opportunities for connection. With non-judgemental support from colleagues and administrators, a teacher can be helped to persist. A PACE-ful way of being can lighten that backpack and prepare the student for new learning.

* information taken from this wesbite (for more info on PACE see website):

Check out this PODCAST on PACE for EDUCATORS

The Goal of DDP or IFS is to help EDUCATORS see all behaviour as self protective. When the child believes that YOU believe their intentions are GOOD, they will self regulate.

Even the most caring educator or parent can be misattuned and that creates defense mechanisms. These they are not always "acting out" behaviours. For an example, please watch:           (5 min Turning Red video clip)

This clip explores the response from unintentional misatunement of a parent, who is attempting to act protectively. Various defense mechanisms that show up when we are mis-attuned to (even as adults).

  • Shutting down or Minimizing: Part of her shuts down and says “Everything is fine”

  • Berating ourselves: Part of her berates her saying " You sicko, why would you draw those things..."

  • Manager Part: Part of her demands she act better "You are her pride and joy, so act like it!"

  • Problem solving: Part of her tries to problem solve to escape the Berating Part saying "I'll move to another country".

ALL Parts of us have good intentions; to help us survive when we feel threatened (Don't trust/feel safe) and also to help us survive socially, those 2 intentions can become polarized, creating BIG behaviours or internalizing difficulties such as anxiety. If we help students see both Parts and their intentions, they will regulate more effectively.

This is some of what often what your quiet, anxious or maybe perfectionist students may experience.

For young children and older children who aren't regulated or have neurodiversity, we often can't "tak" to them the same way as they are not developmentally able to "self-reflect" or develop insight right away. In these cases we focus on co-regulation and "teaching" them to regulate, connect, and trust through activities and interaction; non verbal experiences. 


Sunshine Circles are adult-directed, structured play therapy-based groups that incorporates playful, cooperative, and nurturing activities that enhance the emotional well-being of children. Unlike other play therapy-based group approaches, Theraplay learning takes place on a non-verbal level.

Instead of talking about positive social behavior, the group leaders and children DO positive social interaction.

Gradually, positive messages from the groups become a part

of the child’s internal sense of Self.

This is for those who want to use Theraplay in classrooms.


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The Neurosequential Model

PDF's on Addressing Microaggressions in the Classroom

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