Improve your Human-service Effectiveness


 How to Provide Effective Human Service via
Education and Parts Work  (IFS) Therapy

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

Member NSRC Experts Council


The Web address of this article is 

  Updated October 05, 2015

    This series for human-service providers is under construction   .

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.

      This article introduces a series of Web pages for lay and clinical human-service providers who work with troubled people and groups. The series is based on my full-time professional study and clinical experience since 1979 as a family-systems and trauma-recovery therapist with over 1,000 international clients and students.

      "Clinical human-service providers" includes student and experienced...

  • psychologists, social workers, and pastoral counselors;

  • individual, marital, and family therapists; and...

  • medical professionals including psychiatrists;

      Lay providers include teachers, counselors, life coaches, mentors, human-resource advisors, and similar vocations.

      This series applies to direct-service (face-to-face) providers and the professionals who train, hire, license, evaluate, supervise, support, and regulate them.


      This introduction provides

  • Background on me;

  • An overview on how this Web site and series of pages for service providers came to be; and...

  • Suggestions on getting the most from this series.

The next page is a link-map of the main topics in this series. 


      I am a 77-year old systems engineer, researcher, educator, author, and veteran family-systems therapist. I've had a life-long passion to understand human development, behavior, and relationships, and to help people resolve - and avoid - personal and social "problems." I'm one of a very few "mental-health" professionals with formal engineering and systems training and experience.

      In 1986 (at age 48), I discovered that I was the son of two functional alcoholics, and had  survived a very low-nurturance (dysfunctional) childhood family. Until then, I had thought my childhood and family were "normal." I now know that I inherited six major psychological wounds and unawareness from my well-intentioned parents - just like they did from their ancestors.

      The road to discovering this followed my multi-year study of four groups of respected  theoreticians and veteran human-service professionals:

  • Human-development and family-system pioneers, principally Erik Erickson, Virginia Satir, Murray Bowen, Carl Rogers, Jay Haley, Patricia Papp, Salvador Minuchin, Carl Rogers, Carl Whitaker, John Gardner, Nathaniel Branden, Celia Falacov, Judith Wallerstein, Steven Covey, Froma Walsh, and the "Milan Group" - Palazzoli, Boscolo, Checchin, and Prata; 

  • Intrapsychic, communication, and clinical-hypnosis pioneers, including Abraham Maslow, Gregory Bateson, Milton Erickson, Francis Barber, Paul Watzlawick, John Weakland, Richard Fish, Eric Berne, Claude Steiner, Neale Walsch, Anne Moir, Jeffery Zeig, Thomas Harris, Hal and Sidra Stone, Alexander Lowen, Larry Dossey, John Masterson, Fritz Perls, Steven Gilligan, Harville Hendrix, Roberto Assagioli, John Rowan, Deborah Tannen, Robert Bolton, and many others; 

  • Childhood-trauma recovery pioneers, including Bill Wilson et. al., Claudia Black, John Bradshaw, Sharon Wegsheider-Cruse, Janet Woititz, Charles Whitfield, John and Linda Friel, Rokelle Lerner, Alice Miller, Jane Middleton-Moz, Robert Ackerman, Anne Smith, Richard Schwartz, John Rowan, James Masterson, Mary Jo Barrett, Patricia O'Gorman, Philip Oliver-Diaz, Anne Wilson Shaef, Julia Cameron, Robert Subby, Charles Whitfield, Pia Melody, and many others; and...

  • Pioneer stepfamily sociologists, researchers and clinicians, including Andrew Cherlin, A. J. Norton,  Larry Bumpass, Jeffrey Larson, Paul Glick, J. A. Sweet, Esther Wald, John and Emily Visher, Cliff Sager et. al, Kay Pasley, Marilyn Ihinger-Tallman, and more recently John Bray, Margaret Newman, Elizabeth Einstein, Patricia Papernow, and many others.

Note that except for Dr. Richard Schwartz, none of the experts above included ideas on normal personality subselves and wounds into their paradigms.

      Through obsessive research and clinical experience with well over 1.000 average individuals, couples, and families since 1986, I now believe that most people are unaware of inheritng a mix of the same psychological wounds my parents and I did. Hundreds of spontaneous global responses to my educational YouTube videos suggest that this unseen lethal inheritance of [wounds + unawareness] is world-wide.

      Alerting people to this inheritance and proposing how to stop it has become a life mission for me. This free educational Web site and related guide books and videos are three results. 

     These articles for human-service providers build on seven free online self-improvement lessons designed to help average people - specially parents and grandparents - stop this toxic cycle.

      For more on my background, see this.

 Prepare: Study and Apply the Basics

      My professional experience since 1979 suggests that most human-service providers (like you) get little or no comprehensive training in the topics in this Web site. They don't know what they don't know, and neither do their trainers, supervisors, employers, colleagues, and clients.

      To get the most from these pages, complete these preparation steps in order. Expect this to take several weeks or months. The steps will help you protect your family and serve your clients better by gaining didactic and experiential knowledge of "the human condition."

      Option: enhance your learning by keeping a log or journal of your thoughts and feelings as you do these steps.

__ 1)  Choose a multi-year outlook and the open-minded curiosity of a student. Expect to learn something useful about yourself, your family, your profession, and your clients, from these pages. Take your time. Expect to discover that much of what you've learned previously about "human problems" is superficial, incomplete, or wrong.

__ 2)  (Re)read the introduction to this ad-free Web site and the premises underlying it. If you disagree with many of the premises, these pages will probably not benefit you.

__ 3)  Invest time in completing online lessons 1 thru 6 in this free self-education course. Lesson 1 will reveal whether you've inherited significant psychological wounds and may often be controlled by well-intentioned false selves. If true, commit to high-priority personal wound-reduction - particularly if you nurture minor kids.

      These lessons will...

  • alert you to whether the [wounds + unawareness] cycle is harming you and your family and putting your descendents at risk, and...

  • help you appreciate what typical coworkers and clients are unaware of, and this study will...

  • give you authenticity, empathy, and reason to recommend that your clients study these lessons ("Yes, I've studied and applied them."). Reluctance to study this Break-the-Cycle! course suggests that false selves control you.

__  4) Check to see if your true Self (capital "S") is guiding you as you do each of these next steps. If not, your learning will be skewed or blocked.

      More preparation steps...

__ 5)  Patiently answer the questions in these quizzes to see what you've learned from the course. Review the Q&A article for each quiz you had significant trouble answering. Half of the inherited cycle stressing your family members, clients, students, and colleagues is unawareness of this vital  knowledge

      Reflect on how typical clients and co-workers would do with these quizzes. Then...

__ 6)  See how you feel about these five universal hazards that typical adults (including you) face without knowing it. Ask yourself how many of your family adults, clients, and co-workers could name and explain these hazards.

__ 7)  Assess each adult in your family - including dead relatives and your mate and ex mate/s, if any - for psychological wounds. Invite selected family adults and older kids to study lesson 1 (wound discovery and recovery) and lesson 2 (effective communication skills), and experience their (and your) reactions. Doing this will increase your awareness of what typical clients might experience if they assess themselves and their families for inherited wounds and unawareness.

      If one or more of your  family adults seems to be a Grown Wounded Child (GWC), meditate on if, how, and when to suggest that they study lesson 1 - specially if the person is caring for young kids.

      Recall - these steps will prepare you to benefit fully from these pages for human-service providers.

__ 9)  Assess the nurturance level (low to high) of your work, school, and/or religious environment using this and this. If you're a GWC, you're probably working or studying, and living, in a significantly-dysfunctional environment that may amplify your wounds and hinder your healing. If you are in a toxic environment, you can...

  • do nothing (a sure sign of a disabled true Self); or...

  • seek a wholistically-healthier setting; and/or...

  • learn how to recognize and protect yourself from manipulative, dishonest, shaming, disrespectful, unempathic (i.e. wounded) people Use lessons 2 and 4 to do this. And you may choose to...

  • work proactively to alert key people in your setting to the impacts of psychological wounds and unawareness, and to options for reducing them.

__ 10)  Read this description of  the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle that (I think) passes silently down the generations. Evaluate whether the cycle is influencing you and your relatives now, and try including that question in assessing your clients.

+ + +

      Taking these ten steps over time will prepare you to (1) heal any psychological wounds you've inherited; (2) strengthen and protect your family; and (3) optimize the human services you provide,

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NEXT - review the link-map of articles for service providers.


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