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Why Do I Avoid God? A Catholic, IFS-Informed Approach to Parts’ Problematic God Images

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Peter Malinoski Ph.D.
3 Hours
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Richard Schwartz’ Internal Family Systems therapy argues that clinical experience, theory, research, neuroscience and personal reflection reveal that within each person are separate, identifiable and enduring constellations of thoughts, emotions, attitudes, impulses, desires, abilities, interests, relational styles, body sensations, and worldviews that are not just transient emotional states, but rather constitute discrete “parts,” subpersonalities or distinct modes of operating within the person’s larger internal system. The parts can be considered to be roughly analogous to St. Thomas Aquinas’ passions in significant ways.

I argue that an important organizing component of the worldview of each part or subpersonality is how that part views God, its God image. Parts have distorted God images for three main reasons: 1) Parts learn via experience and the ways they interpret experience, especially in their spiritual inferences, can be markedly different than what God has revealed about Himself through the Catholic Church -- for example, a part whose role is to be dissociated from the rest of the system so as not to overwhelm the core self and other parts with its burden of interpersonal trauma may see God as distant, disconnected and uncaring, in a Deistic way; 2) Parts may be very afraid of, angry at, disappointed with or disinterested in God and therefore refuse to connect with Him, preventing them from having needed corrective relational experiences of a loving God; 3) Given their limited experience and lack of perspective, parts may need the experience of being loved and cared for by the core self before trusting the self to connect them to God.

This program does not qualify for APA credits. 
This program does not qualify for NBCC credits 


Peter Malinoski Ph.D.'s Profile

Peter Malinoski Ph.D. Related Seminars and Products

Souls and Hearts

Peter Malinoski, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and co-founder and president of Souls and Hearts, which brings the best of human formation resources grounded in a Catholic understasnding of the human person to the internet.  Through his podcast Interior Integration for Catholics,, his weekly reflections, and through his leadership of the Resilient Catholics Community, he helps Catholics overcome the natural-level human formation deficits and obstacles so that they can experience greater interior integration and unity, freeing them to receive love and to love God, others and self in a more more ordered way.  This opens the door for a much deeper and more intimate union with God in the three Persons of the Trinity and the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother. 


He provides training, human formation and consultation for about 50 Catholic therapists online in the Interior Therapist Community. His monthly podcast is
through which he addresses the tough psychological issues Catholics face.  Dr. Malinoski and his wife Pam have seven children and an infant grandson.  He also has a private practice.  In his free time also enjoys raising animals, vegetables, and fruits on his small farm.