A fun and creative way to increase system communication and overall system familiarity is to make a scrapbook displaying pages that describe each of the people in your system.
Getting to know your system is an absolute essential part to your healing and recovery, but doing system work doesn’t have to be drudgery. A system scrapbook can be a wonderful treasure and a priceless keepsake for many years to come. It can help create and solidify nice memories for you.
This exercise is similar to making any other personal scrapbook or souvenir album or photo album.
You will need a scrapbook, or a notebook, or a binder full of paper. Have a wide variety of writing utensils available, ie: pens, pencils, crayons, markers. Allow for different colors to be used.
If you want to get creative with your pages, you could also set out scissors, glue, glitter, strips of fabric or cloth, stencils, rubber stamps, yarn, buttons, dried flowers, photos, ribbons, pretty papers, etc.
Invite each and every one of your internal system parts to design their very own page or two or three about themselves.
The pages are to be created by each of your individual system people to introduce and describe themselves, their activities, their interests, their friends, their history, etc. They each can each decorate and design their pages however they so choose. Encourage your parts to creatively display as much information about themselves on their pages as they are comfortable. It’s also good to include drawings, or photos, or collage, or poems, or lists of information, or “Facts about Me”, etc. The sky is the limit with creative expression!
The purpose of this exercise is to assist your system in getting to know themselves and each other, to increase system communication, and to lower amnesiac barriers between the different parts. As everybody fills out their own personal pages, they are providing a good visual summary for the others in the system to get to know who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, who they know, etc.
There is a particular personal fulfillment in being able to creatively express who you are as an individual. The same principal applies to internal parts as well. Having this freedom of expression is a great way to encourage other levels of communication, and being recognized as an individual within a system is also an important emotional need. The self-worth of each of your internal parts can increase just by being recognized as a valuable part of your system.
Completing a personalized page will be a challenge for many insiders, as they often do not know what they like. It’s okay to let the pages be filled out gradually – there doesn’t have to be a time limit or a rush for completion. In fact, the longer you allow this exercise to continue, the better. Some of your insiders might have to look around in the outside world to find more things that they enjoy. Many of them won’t be used to the idea of “liking anything”. Having the freedom and encouragement to explore, and to pick and choose for themselves will be a very new – and possibly unsettling – but positive experience for many of your internal parts. The entire design side of this exercise could be a totally new experience for most of your parts.
Of course there will be those who are resistant to telling anything at all about themselves to anybody, even to other insiders. These parts do not need to be forced to participate. There will be plenty of other folks that find this exercise to be a fun and creative way to meet each other. Encourage as much of your system as possible to participate in making their own page, and remind everyone to keep looking through the other pages.
View the amount of participation and interest each insider shows as an emotional barometer. The amount and intensity of interest your parts show in completing their pages and looking through other pages will absolutely parallel how comfortable, interested, and willing they are to participate in overall system communication.
This project can be rather involved, and may take days, even weeks, to complete. That’s okay! Hopefully more and more insiders will get involved over time. And as you do ongoing work in your healing process, you will continue to meet new insiders. As those new parts surface, encourage them to add their pages to your scrapbook as soon as they are ready to do so.
Another value in this exercise comes in your working together as a team. Some of the older parts will probably have to help the younger ones. Who is comfortable being near the kids?
Everyone will have to take turns. Who gets to go first? Some parts will have to share when they both want to include the same item on their page, and as a system, you’ll have opportunities to problem-solve the various dilemmas.
If someone makes a mistake, who will comfort them or assist them? If someone breaks a crayon, will they get in trouble?
If these parts see someone new in the scrapbook, will they try to communicate with that new person on the inside?
The actual process of learning to work together as a group in creating such a valuable system book is invaluable.
Please do not show this book to anyone you do not completely trust as there is no need to set yourself up for uncomfortable situations with people who are not open to understanding dissociative disorders. This system treasure book is primarily intended for you to get to know you and all your other inside peoples. It is a good therapeutic exercise and I’m sure your therapist will be very interested in seeing it as well.
Get creative, and have fun!
Copyright © 2008-2017 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
I think this is a great idea! I had started a notebook a while back, and every part got to search the internet for “bedroom ideas” and everybody got to pick out the perfect bedroom set up for them. It helped give everyone their own personal space. It might be a good idea to add to everyones page too.
I like your ideas. I find it’s really hard to get started. What if what your doing isn’t real, but all made up? The stuff you come up with, is it real or just thoughts you made up? I’m not always confident that I’m really representing different parts of my system. I do like these ideas though.
as a photographer and scrapbooker, I just wanted to add a couple more ideas:
give everyone a chance to take pictures. even littles can work cameras. you can start with asking them to capture a small “slice of life”–people, places, or things that they like or love. or go do a “backyard photo safari.”
there are scrapbook products specifically designed to help make “about me” books. they also might be useful prompts.
in fact there are scrapbook supplies–papers, stickers, embellishments, stamps, etc.–for every age and interest, and taking everyone shopping might be a way to stimulate each to notice their likes and interests. be sure to set a budget for each person ahead of time, because it can get very expensive very quickly.
don’t be surprised if instead of “about me” pages people use the opportunity to communicate something to you.
art journaling is another variation on this theme. my T has encouraged me to allow the nonverbal parts to communicate to us. I have four pads in different sizes and different paperweights so that I always have a means to express something. having a set of artist pencils and pens and watercolor pencils is a good starting point for expression.
Very helpful! Thank you!
This scares me. I don’t know who would come out and if I would be influencing what is put down.
Plus scared with DH finding it or me working on it.
Kathy Broady says
Yes, having the privacy and the safety to do a task of this size is really important. It’s not a project that can necessarily be picked up and put away quickly, especially once you were working on arranging the various items and attaching them to the various paper pages. That’s the advantage to doing this stuff on computer. There’s less “mess” on the computer, and depending on how you have your computer set up, you might have more privacy as well.
And yes, while doing the system scrapbooks, there will probably be a lot of switching from person to person to person. How rapidly that happens is up to each individual, but yes, it involves letting whoever wants to have a page the freedom to come out and make their own.
Those issues you mentioned… being afraid to lose control of the switching, and being afraid of hearing from them, and trying to micromanage who says what, etc. are big therapeutic issues anyway. These are things you need to be working out with your insiders on a regular basis and keep that as a priority topic in your therapy.
As far as this scrapbooking idea goes…. maybe start with a smaller project so you can work on feeling more comfortable with the others coming out? Try creating a password-protected online journal or a private locked blog where your insiders are free to go and write whatever they want too. If they have a place of their own to write, and you can practice letting them write whatever they want to write in the privacy of their journal / blog, that might be a start in building more trust between all of you in terms of trying this scrapbooking idea.
As far as what the hubby thinks… that is a whole new topic. Family support and understanding. I will add that topic to my “post about this” list.
Remember, your insiders belong to you. They really aren’t your enemies. Start where you can to build a friendship / connection with them, and things will work a whole lot better.
We would like to suggest making a system map as a possible future topic 😀
We LOVE our system book. For us it is an ever-evolving thing, that includes not only personal pages, but also artwork, writings, the various iterations of our system map, and even a section on helpful ideas in case someone gets “stuck” outside and is not in a good place.
Two other ideas have worked for us: if someone doesn’t want to participate, simply include a blank white page with their name in pencil. This shows that you still “count them” even if they don’t want in on it, and gives them the chance to change their mind and make that page their own at any time.
The other idea is to allow some parts to make their pages on the computer and print them out. A few of our insiders are techno wiz kids and prefer to do things on the computer. This is also an idea for ones who can’t write, as we have found that some who cannot write can type.
Aslo, one cooperation thing- We had a HUGE argument in the beginning over the order in which people’s pages were put in the book. Solved it by putting them in age order then alphebetical order. We often find that very logical, emotionless decisions like that solve the arguments best.
Kathy Broady says
Great ideas, Gobbies — thanks for sharing those. Excellent! 🙂
And yes, putting the pages in age order, then alphabetical order makes a lot of sense. I am glad you found a way that seemed fair to everyone. OH gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh!!! I can only imagine the arguments that the “page order” issue would have created, lol Yikes!!! But you’ve made a great point — AND it shows how this exercise can be fun — but also a very very productive exercise in developing system cooperation and working together as a group.
These are really good points — thanks! 🙂
Amazing idea. 🙂
Kathy Broady says
Hey Secret Shadows —
Thanks, BTC —
I’m glad to hear you both liked this idea! I’ve seen some scrapbooking system books that people have made, and they really are awesome. It’s a great way for the insiders to express themselves. They can be lots of work, but the process itself is a valuable as the product you will be creating, so… I hope you both get a chance to make your own System Scrapbook some day. 🙂
Thanks for the kind comments,
That is an AWESOME idea. I really think I might do that. I never thought of that. Really good……